Ben, Simon and Nick
Photo: Bristol Evening PostWe (Ben, Nick and Simon) all met at Bristol University and always talked about one day running a business together. Simon studied French, Nick read Psychology and Ben did Biochemistry. We met at halls of residence and eventually shared a student house together in 1998-2000. At University, we used to experiment with different recipes a lot for evening meals after lectures, and this must have planted a seed because10 years later, we were actually in the food business together!
Ben is our very own nutritionist who loves to experiment with new and cutting edge recipe ideas, making use of the very best functional and wholesome ingredients available. He loves yoga, swimming and outdoor adventures and can quite often be seen dancing energetically at 5 rhythms.
Nick is our travelling salesman. He’s the guy who acquires new stores and spends much of his waking life either on the phone or on the road. Nick competes at International level with his Ultimate Frisbee team who are currently European Champions!
Simon is our finance guru. If it’s anything to do with numbers, balance sheets and cash flow, he is all over it! He also oversees business development, including managing wholesaler accounts. Simon loves keeping fit, particularly with his boxercise and circuits classes.
Before we came up with the idea to make our own energy snacks, we had another business idea which involved running a lunchtime outlet in central London making healthy fast food. The products we created used pulses and grains. We looked around London for shops to lease and Nick would stand outside busy lunchtime outlets measuring the footfall of people going by and customers going in to these stores with a clicker. He got some funny glances from busy Londoners wondering what on earth he was doing! Nevertheless, from this data we found out lots of interesting information about our potential competitors and realised that the rents that landlords asked were basically too big and the premiums bigger, making a potential operation like ours unsustainable. The retail market and those inflated rents/premiums did eventually come down as the bubble burst in 2008. However, we still kept our name and logo which reflect the balance between a pulse and a grain in harmony. By the time we developed the Energy Bomb!, our first product, the name Pulsin’ reinforced the concept of energy and momentum anyway so we stuck with it!
We were a little deflated ourselves after spending 18 months planning a business that was essentially unworkable but we still kept our faith and motivation to do something as we had a solid team that trusted and respected one another. Ben, who had recently qualified as a nutritionist and was working at the Nutri Centre, devised some energy balls containing raw chocolate, dates and guarana. After spending all night making them together in Nick’s mum’s kitchen, Nick took them to Womad festival to sell which turned out to be a massive success. That was the impetus to start a new journey, this time involving hand rolled energy balls! The little treats we had created went down well at Womad Festival so we decided to try and make a real business out of it.
We had a great product but no where to make it so we asked our good friend Mark who ran Nusa, a healthy lunchtime outlet in the city, if we could use his kitchen after hours. Luckily, he said yes and every day after work, the 3 of us would hand roll hundreds of balls to sell to our initial few stores we had picked up. Nick and Simon went out on the first sales mission in November 2006 thinking they would sell 2-3 cases and got orders for 20 cases. Back then it took us hours and hours to hand roll 20 cases worth so we spent the weekend at Nusa fulfilling the orders! Every evening and every weekend thereafter we would hand roll more balls to fulfil bigger orders until the kitchen we were using was too small. By March 2007 we moved into our own factory in East London, received a loan from the bank and got our weekends back!
Our new factory was a real step up and having our own space to produce Ben’s creations was magnificent. By the summer of 2007, we even had our first employee who came over from Brazil to work with us for a couple of months. Patti was fabulous and taught us a thing or two in the kitchen as well! One of the biggest revelations in our business, however, was the purchase of our packaging machine which allowed us to automatically package the products rather than cumbersomely wrap them into cellophane bags one at a time. We were officially manufacturers!
The day came when our factory could not store all the pallets of ingredients coming in so we started the search for an alternative factory. We eventually found our new home in Gloucestershire, near the Cotswolds. It is 3 times bigger than our previous unit and is a great space for throwing a Frisbee-luckily, it also stores more ingredients too.