Founded by Greg Duggan and Damien Kennedy, Wheyhey is a healthy protein based ice cream brand with endorsements from the likes of David Gandy and Harry Styles. I wanted to find out more about how this startup came up with the idea and made it a reality. Here's my interview with Greg:
Hi Greg, thanks for being with YHP today, can you tell me a little bit about your backgrounds:
We met at Brunel Uni where we were both studying sports sociology and psychology. We were always throwing business ideas at each other but after graduating, ended up pursuing separate careers; I became a teacher and part time Model and Damien coached GB basketball. But we were still both playing sport and maintaining our fitness. That’s when the idea of a healthy whey protein ice cream came up. We had a play around with ingredients at home, bought an ice cream maker from eBay and started selling it to our mates for some extra income on the side. That’s when we realized we had a good chance of turning Wheyhey into a successful business.
Where did the inspiration for WheyHey come from?
We’ve both always been into nutrition and taking care of our health, so I suppose developing our interest into a business seemed like a logical move. We noticed that protein products dominated a niche market of dedicated gym goers, bodybuilders, athletes etc, whereas actually everyone can benefit from increasing their daily protein consumption. So our vision is to make protein more accessible to everyone as well as debunking the common myths that surround protein. Everyone loves ice cream so what better way to introduce it into people’s daily lifestyles in a fun way?!
Give us the elevator pitch:
We don’t take the elevator, we run up the stairs.
Haha, OK, so what are the health benefits of the ice cream?
Each 150ml tub contains 22g of Protein, which is equivalent to a medium sized chicken breast. All our ice cream is sugar free and instead contains Xylitol, a natural sweetener extracted from tree bark, that’s actively good for your teeth AND health. It also means we’re suitable for diabetics. Wheyhey is low in fat and carbs and is 100% natural. Not bad for an ice cream.
Who are your customers?
We’re lucky to have a very loyal customer base of health conscious men and women. I’d say right now, 99% of our customers lead a fit and healthy lifestyle, with probably 50% of those being really into fitness. Havind said that, the market for this product is huge – everyone needs protein in their diet and most people like/love ice cream. So we predict that over the next year, we’ll see a shift into more mainstream ‘health aware’ households. The trend in the UK towards healthier living and increased protein consumption can only have a positive impact on brands like ours… Wheyhey!
Where are you selling the Ice creams?
Ocado, Wholefoods, Holland & Barrett, Virgin Active, Nuffield Health, GNC, Planet Organic, Musclefood and lots of independent gyms and stores across the UK.
and how much does seasonality affect sales?
Seasonality does have an effect but not as much as regular ice cream. Many of our consumers see the ice cream as a staple part of their diet that helps them meets their daily protein requirements so buy it throughout the year.
How did you get started?
We came from humble beginnings, starting out in our kitchen with one of those DIY ice cream makers, which are a nightmare to clean.
How did you fund the business?
We pretty much sold everything we had to generate the initial capital to start up. And we’ve got our friends and family to thank for supporting us with added investment to keep us going in those early months. Once the business was up and running, we appealed to Angel Investors and more recently secured investment from male supermodel David Gandy, who acts as a brand ambassador as well.
Have you guys always wanted to run your own business?
Absolutely. Both of us always knew we wanted to work for ourselves and build something from scratch. Watching something grow from just an idea to a fully operational business is a humbling experience. But we’ve still got a long whey to go.
You have some famous consumers like David Gandy and Harry Styles, how did that come about? and how has it helped?
You can’t underestimate the value of having celebrity endorsement. We’re fortunate that two major influencers in their respective fields have a genuine interest in the brand and the product. What makes their endorsement, and the endorsement of our other ambassadors, so valuable is the fact that they really believe in the proposition and frequently eat Wheyhey. We’d never involve people for their namesake, there would always have to be a genuine interest in our product.
What does 2014 hold?
This is the year of protein, so we've got some exciting plans in the pipeline. We’re launching a world exclusive piece of innovation (our lips are sealed for the moment!), partnering up with some great names in fitness, like Nike and Virgin and rolling out in Nuffield health clubs, which we’re extremely excited about. We've also got a trial going in the NHS, so to have their endorsement is serious kudos.
Where do you want to be in the next 5 years?
In every freezer up and down the country. It’s a punchy ambition but the way the market is headed, there’s no reason that we can’t achieve this if we stay focused and listen to our consumers needs.
What advice would you give anyone starting their own business?
Go into business with a solid partner. It’s so hard to do it alone, even if you've got balls of steel. You need someone to bounce ideas off and to turn that frown upside down.
Totally agree there. Thank you for the interview and good luck on getting Wheyhey into every freezer up and down the country!