Vieve: Rafael Rozenson
Taking protein powders for 20 years yet always hating the taste, Rozenson decided to come up with a "game changing" water-based nutrition drink
Tell us what your business does:
We are disrupting the sports nutrition market with a water-based protein drink, which is game changing for the market. It has 20g of protein, is naturally flavoured, and has a superior taste to anything else on the market.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I have been taking protein powders for over 20 years and have always hated the taste and the process.
While working for a water company a few years ago, I was trying to bulk up by consuming lots of powders, raw cans of tuna, chicken breast – all the usual stuff! I have always found the whole process to be a bit gross.
I remember looking at a bottle of water one day and thinking to myself: ‘wouldn’t it be great if you could get your protein top-up from something as refreshing as water, without having to bother with powders or milky drinks?’.
Hence, Vieve was born!
How did you know there was a market for it?
I did my research and found that the sports nutrition market was booming. Protein was being introduced more and more into mass market products, it felt like the opportunity was ripe for me to create a different kind of protein drink that was suitable for a mass market audience.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have worked in the consumer goods industry for over 12 years in a variety of sales, marketing, category and strategy roles for people like Procter & Gamble, Disney, Danone, GSK and Mars.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes! I found working for large consumer goods companies to be frustrating – I never really had the opportunity to put my own ideas into action, and instead spent a lot of time dealing with processes and trying to overcome barriers.
How did you raise the money?
I invested my own savings into the company and also got a start-up loan from Virgin Start-up.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
At the moment, we are only selling online – you can buy a six pack of our water for £14.99 plus delivery. We also have a subscription model where you get 50% off your first order and 10% off every order ongoing.
At the moment, we are also looking for our first retail listings in gyms, sports clubs and cross-fit studios.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
So many! I think the biggest challenge was actually manufacturing the drink as it’s quite complicated to make – there are very few manufacturers who can produce it in the UK. We have faced challenges in every process along the way, from the drink recipe to how to market the product.
The important thing is to be flexible and adaptable – you have to understand that your key assumptions and business model can change at any moment, so you need to be flexible.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Getting the loan from the Virgin Start-up program was a pretty big deal, it meant we had the capital to pursue manufacturing the drink. We also had our first review recently from a quirky blog called Too Fat Too Run – it was really encouraging!
What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?
Go for it! Believe in yourself, but do your research. You need to live and breathe every aspect of your business. You should never underestimate how difficult it is when you are first starting up – so be prepared!
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I would like to take the brand global, aiming to be in at least 10 European markets, as well as Canada and Australia. The big one is the US – that will be the toughest one to crack.