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The Inspiration Behind MEANPROTEIN: from protein subscription idea to reality.

MeanProtein is possibly the newest protein subscription box business in the U.K but every business has a creative idea behind it and I thought I would share the MeanProtein story with you all.


Let me introduce myself, my name's Rachael (Rach) and I created the entire MeanProtein brand, including the protein subscription idea, the logo, the website and I run the social media accounts (if you don't follow them, have a look at the Instagram and Facebook) as well as the marketing. Therefore, it was very much a solo project. However, I have gained help from many places, such as the local council and other funding areas, so I can't take complete credit. See below for the full business madness.

THE STORY

It was the year 2020 and it all began at the beginning of lockdown. I had just basically finished university and I honestly had nothing to do apart from fitness.


As I especially enjoy weight-lifting, I try to get a minimum of 90 grams of protein per day. Therefore, I would always make a monthly order of protein. As I was searching for my monthly supply of protein one day which I usually always attained from Bulk Powders, I suddenly I thought about how boring it was to always get the same protein product each month (salted caramel whey and protein pancake mix with a few bars). Then, I wondered why there was no subscription feature and thus, the idea of MeanProtein was created in my mind. I figured that others, like me, wanted to change their protein flavour and would love it to come automatically.


I then researched to see if there was a company that already provided this service which there was. Therefore, I propelled my idea to create a unique product. I realised that:


📦 No other company provides only big, high-quality brands within their protein boxes. Thus, they get cheaper protein which is still great but I wanted to create something premium!


📦 And no other subscription box provides a minimum quantity of protein per box. Thus, I came up with the idea for a 250g box and a 500g box.


With these two unique ideas, I was able to create a fresh protein subscription idea to give the best product to customers like you.


The Process After The Idea

With the idea created, it was time to think about how to make a protein business reality. I'm going to be honest and say that I had no idea how to begin a business. I have a degree in Film & Production and I had never done business studies at school, so I was new to the idea.


Foremost, as my parents live in the south of Ireland which is where I was staying for lockdown but I live in Northern Ireland, I needed to decide which country I wanted to research 'how to set up a business' in.


- Ireland had the benefit of the fact I was there at the time.


- But the U.K had better tax rates as well as the fact I have a national insurance number amongst other things.


The real deciding factor though was that I realised that shipping from Ireland was ridiculously overpriced and it would not be feasible. Honestly, the cheapest price was 20.00 and I didn't want to charge customers that much to ship. Therefore, I researched setting up a protein subscription business in the U.K which was surprisingly easy.


The Name

I sat down one evening and made a list of names which I thought were catchy for my protein business. I had ideas such as, 'Raise & Gains', 'Pack Munch' and 'Fit Feeling Kit'. I threw these names around to my family members and friends to see which was the best and eventually Mean Protein was picked. However, I researched the biggest brand names, such as 'GYMSHARK' and I found that most use all one word for a name, thus Mean Protein is actually spelt 'MEANPROTEIN'. What do you think of the name? Let us know here.


Trade Deals

Before I progressed any further, I wanted to work out my costings and ensure that I could work with the best protein brands. I have always been somebody who picks quality over quantity and I decided that I wanted the best quality protein within the MEANPROTEIN boxes.


To do this, I simply emailed all of the top brands and hoped for the best. I knew of some of these myself which I emailed and I also looked up the top 10 U.K protein brands to see what customers would look for in a monthly protein box. After all, MEANPROTEIN seeks to make the best protein boxes to get people the biggest gains.


Surprisingly, almost all of the brands I contacted emailed me back. Some gave MEANPROTEIN direct deals. Whereas, others needed really high minimum order quantities, therefore they put me onto wholesale websites where you can order smaller amounts. Others let me buy protein products straight from their websites because they didn't work with wholesalers and I wanted as much variety as possible in the MEANPROTEIN boxes. I wanted these protein boxes to be the best! I find that emailing them was a success and I now work with 12 big protein brands. Do you think MEANPROTEIN is missing out on one? Let me know by messaging on Instagram and Facebook.


The Website

Once I had the trade deals that I wanted, it was time to create a website.


To start with, I researched the best websites to use and I'm going to be honest, I looked into which had the best student deals to keep the costs down. Turns out the one which fitted both was WIX.


WIX was fairly easy to use and I got the hang of crafting the website together to create what you are on right now. However, I did not know how to do a couple of things, such as adding a cookie pop-up. Therefore, I went through the Belfast Council Enterprise scheme to team up with a digital marketing agency called Rapid Agency who helped with these issues. The outcome was superb. I liked the dark colour which fits the 'cool' and 'modern/minimalist' vibe of MEANPROTEIN and it makes it a bit different to other websites. And I also added in a lot of blue as that it one of MEANPROTEIN's brand colours. Thus, the MEANPROTEIN website was ready but first, I needed pictures.


The Prototype

Next I designed the boxes using Photoshop. Thankfully I have a degree in Film Studies & Production and throughout that time, I learnt how to use Photoshop. Plus it was a simplistic design which made it easier for somebody with mediocre Photoshop skills.


I really loved this design as seen on the right but unfortunately, this was too much black ink for the boxing company which is why the top of the box is plain cardboard with the MEANPROTEIN logo which is still great and again, highlights the 'minimalist' theme.


Once the boxes arrived, I bought a selection of protein bars and whey from the brands mentioned earlier. But I then faced the issue of where to take the product photos for the website. I wanted to use a gym or fitness area but all of the gyms were closed for COVID, including the gym at my workplace. Yet, that was the only option. So, I messaged my manager and thankfully, I was able to gain access to take the photos such as the one below. I took these myself as my degree is in Film and therefore, I know how to set up composition and framing etc. myself.

Marketing

By July 2020 the website was up and running. This was the time to begin marketing.


I had many initial ideas including:

💡 Advertisements online

💡 Promoting the protein subscription within gyms

💡 Asking personal trainers to promote it

💡 Writing blog posts on the website (plot twist...this is one!)

💡 Free giveaways (follow us on Instagram for these)

💡 Social influencers


I began with the social influencers idea and approached big fitness influencers, such as Joe Delaney and others. However, many of these already had contracts with other protein companies, so I had to look for people without these contracts, such as Lia Gribius. Lia was happy enough to promote the brand and this lead to brand awareness which is always helpful. I am also currently working with Tom Grennan to promote the brand to his followers, as well as to say thank you for the music which you could listen to in the gym. Check it out here - it's great!


I also contacted a lot of gyms but none replied due to the COVID situation unfortunately. So my next task is to go into gyms directly and ask to pin up leaflets. Would you like to see MEANPROTEIN in your gym? Let us know here.


Next, I asked friends, family and I searched online for a range of personal trainers across the U.K and I asked them if they would like to promote MEANPROTEIN for an incentive. This had a great outcome with a few people now promoting across the U.K. Do you know a personal trainer who might want to join the MEANPROTEIN team, message us on Instagram and Facebook!


Next, I started to run free giveaways which work very well when combined with the online advertisement idea of boosting Facebook posts for example. And I also write blog posts as you can see here now which I'm sure you enjoy.


However, all of this costs a lot of money as you can probably imagine. Therefore, I tried to gain funding from any source possible. I used my own funds first and then gained help from crowdfunding, the bank who sometimes give grants and my University, Queen's University Belfast. I very much appreciate all of these sources who were able to help propel MEANPROTEIN into reality.


What's Next?

As MEANPROTEIN is a high quality product with a huge range of protein brands, it is one of the best workout boxes around. Therefore, I believe that it will be successful gradually over time. Especially with an ever increasing market for protein products, I am confident that MEANPROTEIN has the potential to grow and use the core value of passion to continuously seek methods of improving to reach the next level.


My next steps include promoting MEANPROTEIN within gyms to gain a bigger brand awareness since it is such a new, up-and-coming protein business. I want as many people to know about it as possible in order to help people with their fitness goals. As you probably know, protein has a full range of health benefits which can be seen in our previous blog post: Why is Protein Fundamental? Therefore, the higher amount of athletes like you who know about it, the more people can benefit.


I will also be promoting through the help of other small businesses. So far we have worked with Bosh Bottles who make the MEANPROTEIN bottles and Real Health Living who promote MEANPROTEIN to their clients who look for nutritional meal plans. So next, we will look for other unique small businesses to work with.


And I am also in talks with the biggest fitness expo in the U.K to get a stand for May 2021.. Announcement on that soon..


I think that's about it. Before lockdown I would have never had a clue how to set up or run a business and now I have accomplished this all through the determination of an idea that I think will benefit fitness people such as myself. Why not see what the hype is about and try a healthy protein subscription box for yourself?


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