What is your mantra, do you have one?
Create your own luck
Do you have a routine in the morning, to kick start the day, what motivates you?
A shower, coffee and a big bowl of muesli with fruit prepares me for the day. The life changing nature of the products we make for our consumers and my family gives me all the energy and motivation I need for my busy ever changing schedule.
When you created your wheat-free bread suitable for your gluten intolerant son, was it something you envisaged that you would create such a successful global brand?
I knew there was a desperate need in the UK for soft and tasty fresh gluten free bread that would allow gluten avoiders to make sandwiches for packed lunches, picnics and children’s parties. I also knew this demand existed outside the UK too but I wasn’t sure how I would reach these consumers and this has only become possible with the expert team we now have in place.
At what point did you realize this is working and to approach the leading supermarkets to to take your product to market?
After two years of kitchen development, 1000s of loaves and 2 broken ovens, my children finally said they loved my bread. Children don’t lie so I took this feedback seriously and approached a gluten free bakery in Bathgate who agreed to help me scale the recipe from my Magimix to 200kg mixes. A year later we had a commercial product, ready for branding and presenting to the retailers. In April 2009 we launched Genius White and Brown Gluten free Bread in 700 supermarkets across the UK.
Did the concept start from your own kitchen?
It did and I continue to develop products at home before commercialising them in our bakery. I find my kitchen brings out my creative juices, allows me to think freely and work quickly.
What is your advice to entrepreneurs that have an idea but not sure how to take the next step to developing their idea.
Understand your market, if the demand is real, focus on commercialising your product. Hire people who are strong in the areas where you ae weak. Choose a brand name that brings your creation to life but doesn’t limit both the product range you may develop and the markets you may enter in the future. If you require investment, choose an investor who is excited by the difference your product will make to them personally as well as to the wider consumer group.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Luck is created by the hard graft of preparation, the ability to spot an opportunity and the willingness to exploit it. Don’t just talk a story, act on it.
How do you achieve the work life balance?
I don’t. For the past decade my life has consisted of work and doing all I can to ensure my family are happy. Fortunately I have wonderful life-long friends who understand.
What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
Listen to those with the quietest and loudest voices throughout the business, in equal measure to get a balanced view. Hire people who are better than you to ensure your business is reinforced to deal with challenges that arise from fast growth. Learn from mistakes and change tack quickly to stay ahead of the competition. Welcome challenge – you and your business will be stronger as each challenge is overcome.
I feel privileged to have experienced the Genius journey over the past decade. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping like- minded, proactive individuals create their success stories.
After all this success, what do you struggle with now?
The hard graft is never complete. We are a pioneering business committed to making the best gluten free products on the market. As the competition grows, we work harder and harder to improve our formulations, processes and routes to market. There is no room for complacency or vanity at Genius.