This is How To Build a Million Pound Protein Shake Brand

The Founders of Wholesupp: Dr Brian Carson and former Rugby Player Darren O’Reilly,

Welcome back to Fire Fortuna! Journeying toward financial independence truly feels like a marathon and not a sprint, a path filled with its fair share of peaks, valleys and, yes, the occasional bouts of burnout. I’ve recently come to grips with my own fatigue, worn down and out of shape, huffing and puffing after a simple race to catch the train. My lifestyle, littered with rushed meals and lacklustre nutrition, was sounding the alarm!

In my quest to boost my energy and improve my overall well-being, I’ve delved into the powerful benefits of protein: increased strength, weight management, heightened energy, and the promotion of overall bodily recovery, to name a few. This research led me to a game changer: Whole Supp, a nutritionally complete, high-protein superfood shake. Plant-based, allergen-free, and bursting with flavour, this shake has stormed onto the global scene, amassing tens of thousands of satisfied customers along the way. 

The WholeSupp Protein Shake has literally changed my life. I have so much more energy and generally feel Best of all, it’s actually delicious

 Darren O’Reilly, the co-founder of Whole Supp, has kindly agreed to join us for a discussion. So, without further ado, let’s give a warm Fire Fortuna welcome to Darren and dive into the remarkable world of Whole Supp.

Table of Contents:

1. How did you come up with the idea for Whole Supp? Was there a specific moment or experience that inspired you?

Whole Supp was born out of personal need. I was a professional rugby player, and when I moved into the corporate world, I lost an alarming amount of weight – 20kg! This was through skipping breakfast or just grabbing a meal deal at lunchtime, which are cheap, convenient, nutritional disasters. I was really missing the support I had from my sporting days, when I was surrounded by some of the best nutritionists and dietitians in the business. 

When I looked for options within the nutritionally complete category, I felt disheartened by the options. They didn’t taste great, upset my stomach and, after reviewing their labels, I found they were misleading, as ingredients were put in a negligible level so that they could be listed on the back of their packets. 

This is when Dr. Brian Carson (my co-founder) and I set out to provide a high-protein superfood shake that is nutritionally complete, tastes great, is plant-based and allergen-free, but also has a profound health benefit on your body. The ingredients were hand-selected to ensure it’s nutritionally complete. We’re on a mission to empower healthier lifestyles by bringing all the best superfoods together into a convenient, wholesome, well-balanced meal.

2. As a direct-to-consumer brand, what strategies have you found most effective in building a strong online presence and connecting with your target audience?

Great question! We believe in addressing and relating to our customer’s pain points and providing an honest and transparent solution that supports their lifestyle.  Credibility and social proofing have been key to developing a strong online presence. This can be in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, or podcasts.

3. Scaling up a nutrition brand can be challenging. Could you share some insights into the steps you took to expand Whole Supp and reach a wider market?

You’re so right, it is challenging to scale any business.

“We have been very fortunate in that Whole Supp has been well-received and we have a 70-80% returning customer base” 

Darren O’Reilly, Whole Supp Co-Founder

Some of the important steps we have taken to ensure we can scale is partnering with local couriers, so our product can be delivered on time in each region. We deliver across Ireland and the UK.

WholeSupp: It tastes blooming marvellous and is so good for you.

4. Whole Supp emphasizes being a plant-based meal shake. How did you approach formulating a product that meets nutritional needs while also appealing to consumers’ taste preferences?

This was definitely a task in itself. For this,

“I’ve got to hand it to Dr. Brian Carson. I’m very fortunate to have an amazing co-founder with over a decade of experience in human physiology and performance”

Darren O’Reilly, Whole Supp Co-Founder

Together we agreed that we wanted to be led by the latest science when selecting the ingredients in our product. For example, Brian wanted organic cherries in our product as the literature has proven that these can reduce inflammation. Beetroot is another ingredient that has been shown to increase nitrate and blood flow within the body, and it’s common knowledge that broccoli and spinach are hugely beneficial for us.

Taste is everything to a consumer. We’re long past the myth that something good for you has to taste bad, it no longer has to be a choice between the two – thankfully! We focused a lot of our efforts on the texture and mouthfeel of our product, which can be easily overlooked unless you’re a consumer of your product. We used cocoa powder and vanilla beans to naturally flavour each of our products. 

5. Building a brand requires establishing a unique identity. How did you differentiate Whole Supp from other meal shake brands in the market?

Building a brand from scratch is extremely difficult, but we had a number of non-negotiables. Whole Supp is built on honesty and transparency. We are committed to developing world-class products that ensure sustainability and remain ethically responsible. 

For example, the nutrition space tends to be covered in plastic and this was not an option for us. Every Whole Supp pouch is home-compostable, delivery boxes are curbside recyclable, and we use non-toxic inks. We are also on a mission to become a certified B Corp. We review all of our suppliers to ensure that products are being produced in a sustainable way, and that we can guarantee fair labour throughout the supply chain. 

Additionally, we third-party test all our products and we’re Informed Sport certified. We do this so that our customers can put their trust in our product.

WholeSupp: The Best Superfoods in one easy wholesome meal!

6. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses as side hustles. What advice would you give to those looking to transition their passion project into a full-time venture?

Starting a business as a side hustle is a great way to get some market validation. For example, use any opportunity to speak to your consumer and get feedback on your product.  

Once you decide to go full-time, make sure you go all-in and surround yourself with great people. I count myself very fortunate to have a co-founder like Dr Brian and the team we are building at Whole Supp. Starting a business can be a lonely place. This is why I prioritise having the right support team around to celebrate the highs and work through the lows.

7. Whole Supp has gained a loyal customer base. How do you ensure customer satisfaction and maintain their trust in your brand?

Customer service is everything. We try our best to connect with our consumers personally by engaging with them as much as possible. All we want to do is support their lifestyle. We see Whole Supp as an extension of the day-to-day. We also learn from our customers. We discovered that many were new to meal shakes, and didn’t have the equipment or know what to buy. So we adapted by introducing the Whole Supp Starter Package where they get a free shaker and shipping with the first purchase.

The nutrition space is ever-evolving with the latest scientific discoveries. We are always evaluating our formulation and what we put into our product to stay up-to-date and on-trend.

Whole Supp is always looking at a New Product Road and Road Map to support our customer’s lifestyles. This is how we decide on what products will bring to market and why. 

Thank you so much Darren for joining us!

After two weeks of enjoying a Whole Supp chocolate shake once a day, I’m truly noticing a boost in my energy levels. I haven’t felt rundown or exhausted in a long time. The best thing about WholeSupp is undoubtedly the taste. This isn’t an overly sweet protein shake, it has a lovely natural taste and I look forward to drinking it every morning.

Pick up your Whole Supp Starter Pack and you can thank me later!

WholeSupp: I’m not afraid to admit that I actually feel like a new woman after trying this out for two weeks!

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