Entrepreneur Life – Interview With The Founders Of Pulsin
Sundried is an independent UK business that was founded by entrepreneur Daniel Puddick. We encourage the growth of small businesses and want to empower consumers to choose ethical companies rather than defaulting to multi-national corporations and faceless conglomerates.
We spoke to Nick Bildner, Ben Lewis and Simon Ashburner who are the founders of healthy snack food and protein brand Pulsin.
In a nutshell, what is the story of Pulsin? What motivated you to develop the idea?
The beginnings of Pulsin go all the way back to 1997 when Ben, Nick and I were given neighbouring rooms in Halls of Residence at University. We soon discovered a shared fascination with food, not just as a source of fuel but how diet can enhance everyday life through impact on mood, energy levels, physical health and even social interaction. After university, Ben went on to study nutritional therapy at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition in London, which turned out to be a key factor in our decision to start a food business together. At the time, it was surprisingly rare to go into a shop and find a snack that was both tasty and nutritious. This gave us the belief and motivation to come up with something new and start Pulsin together.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when setting up this business?
Persuading people that our idea would work from a standing start was difficult. Banks were not interested in lending us money, many landlords were resistant to offering us a lease for business premises (even more so when they heard the words “superfood” and “manufacturing start-up”) and persuading ingredient and packaging suppliers to temporarily reduce minimum order quantities was initially quite difficult too.
We got around this by making the bars by hand in the kitchen of a café owned by a friend of ours and buying ingredients from online retailers. We started selling directly to a few shops in London and then wrote a proper business plan using real sales data that we had collected. That broke the deadlock and within a few months we had a bank loan in place and had moved into our first factory in East London.
How do you manage a healthy work-life balance?
It was very difficult during the early days when we were doing so many different jobs between us like designing and printing labels, doing the books, delivering bars to shops and of course making the bars during all hours of the day and night. I remember performing emergency repairs to a packaging machine at 2am using a spring from a pen and a paperclip.
Running the business was all-consuming and I did sometimes question why I had leapt from a relatively stable career into the unknown. Fortunately, on our journey we have been joined by some amazingly talented people with a wealth of knowledge and experience which has enabled us to develop and grow as a business.
What's been the most exciting part of developing Pulsin?
The first thing that comes to mind is meeting and learning from all the interesting people that this industry brings together; shopkeepers, ingredient and packaging suppliers, engineers, international distributors, nutritionists, consumers of our products and of course all of the wonderful staff who work at Pulsin. I also enjoy the buzz of launching a new product and receiving emails from customers telling us how our products have positively impacted them.
What does the future hold for Pulsin?
We have lots of exciting new products in the pipeline for later this year and next, including a new and unique range of functional bars for kids which, like all of our products, will be designed, developed and produced at our headquarters in Gloucestershire. We also have two big CSR goals to achieve which are to become an employer of choice and to become a leader in sustainability. This means maintaining the pace of change at Pulsin in a positive way for our staff and customers
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Establish your company purpose, vision and values at an early stage and write them down. Believe 100% in your product. Understand your customers well and listen to their feedback. Plan your business thoroughly but get started as soon as possible. The longer you delay the more distant your vision will become. Have confidence in yourself and be prepared to overcome obstacles and setbacks on a regular basis. Lots of people may tell you that your idea will not work, It is your job as entrepreneur to make it happen. Never give up. Be part of a team of people you trust.
Coffee or tea? Coffee, strong but in moderation
Summer or winter? Winter in the Alps as long as it can be sunny too.
Gym or outdoors? Outdoors – we spend too much time indoors
Whey or vegan? Vegan is where all the excitement is.
Sweet or savoury? Sweet but not too sweet.