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Featured Business: Revive Active
Name: Dáithí O’Connor, managing director of Revive Active
Employees: 12 full-time, two part-time
“Take this, it’ll change your life,” was the far-reaching advice that Dáithí O’Connor was given along with a health supplement a friend had discovered.
Little did they know the truth in these words,and that four years later Dáithí would have traded his financial services business for a health start-up.
So taken by how much better he felt, combined with the fact that he was looking to move into a business with export potential, Dáithí decided to explore the business opportunity.
By 2011, he had been introduced to Liam Salmon – Revive Active’s chief operations officer – and the two started out in business together. Liam’s background in operations, sales and science, and Dáithí’s finance and management expertise have proven a good combination.
Three years and three relaunches later, Revive Active is in a healthy position. In 2013 the company doubled turnover, and introduced three new products to market, all of which have been well received. The target market is the 40-plus age bracket and covers a cross-section of society: runners, sportspeople and people who are ageing with wear and tear. The product range includes the original Revive Active sachet, which contains 26 compounds, Revive Active Joint Complex for osteoarthritis, and Krill Oil.
Revive Active has ambitious plans, including expansion into the UK. The US is also on the list, and the company has already established a corporate entity there. While initially the focus was on the Irish market, the firm quickly realised that if it could break into the US and UK, there’s no reason it couldn’t go global.
In the early days Dáithí and Liam had considered importing American supplements, but instead took the R&D route and worked with contract manufacturers in Ireland. Making the best products possible is at the heart of what they do, and Revive Active has in-house R&D, while staff members on the road hold science degrees or are nutritional therapists.
From product development to online sales, the customer is at the forefront. Free next-day signed-for delivery in the UK and Ireland contributes to 20% online sales that have 70% retention. “You’ve got to make it easy for them,” says Dáithí, who says he enjoys seeing online sales come in on his phone.
Interview with Dáithí O’Connor
What was the inspiration for setting up your business?
Initially a friend gave me an American-based supplement. I was taken aback by the positive benefits I got out of it, specifically increased energy and mental clarity. He introduced me to my business partner Liam Salmon. I felt that there were so many people out there like me who would benefit from this. There were consultants giving amino acids and Coenzyme Q10 to their patients with very, very good results. From my point of view,that gave more credibility so I delved further into it and did research for a year before we did anything. I felt that the only way forward was to develop something ourselves that we could put our own stamp on.
How did you initially fund your business?
We put in €150,000 of our own money. That got us going so we could manufacture, and make the packaging. We didn’t take any salaries for 18 months. There were only two of us and we worked seven days a week to get it off the ground. That’s what the company needed.
Have you diversified your offering from your original focus or set up other businesses?
There was no question of going into anything else. This was the business. We expanded, and added on Krill [Oil] and a product for the joints.
What have been the highlights to date?
In July 2013 we reached €1million in turnover. That was a milestone. In 2012 we were approved by Enterprise Ireland as an innovative HPSU [high-potential start-up],which is very much targeted at R&D. That was validation of what we were doing.
What’s your favourite part of being a business owner/entrepreneur?
The issues are in your own hands. I get satisfaction out of seeing the growth in the business and the development of the Revive team, as well as the ethos of our firm that everybody is playing a part in the growth. Every new chain we bring on board is a success for everybody.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
It can be difficult at times; you have to discipline yourself to take time off. From a health point of view, you have to do that. I think I’ve managed it fairly well.
Are you inspired by any business figures or success stories?
If I were to look at the Irish people who have been hugely successful, John Magnier is known the world over in his field. From a financial point of view, there’s Dermot Desmond. If I were to go with anyone outside of Ireland, I would have to go with the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin – they are geniuses in their field.
What tools do you utilise that benefit your customers or that make running your business easier or more profitable?
For the benefit of our customers, we offer free delivery to anywhere in the UK and Ireland. Some 20% of our business is done online. From a business point of view, we’ve introduced Sage. It means we can get up-to-the-minute figures. These are tools that are invaluable to a business.
Do you feel you know what your customers really want? How do you stay updated with this information?
Everybody wants to look better, everybody wants to feel better, everybody wants to have more energy, everybody wants to have preventative-type medicine and they want to put in a base so that they have a quality of life when they get older. Customers break down into different fields. Some are very knowledgeable. Others have heard it through word of mouth. We’re trying to educate our customers so they understand what we’re about, what our products are about and why they should be taking them.
What has been the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Funding, cashflow. As you grow, you’re caught; you’ve a foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time. Cashflow is key to the business.
What do you think the biggest challenge to businesses in Ireland is at the moment?
Lack of funding to grow, i.e. the timescale to funding. Sometimes businesses have to take an opportunity and the banks may not be in a position to make quick decisions, so it can lead to dilution of equity, which is not the best way forward.
What part of running a business comes to you naturally?
I enjoy the management of the business. I really enjoy the marketing. The finance is part of my culture. I get great satisfaction out of encouraging our team and how our team has developed. You know the people who are going to work in our business, and everybody is on the same wavelength.
What has been the best reward in running your own business?
Seeing it grow. Breaking into new markets. It’s great to walk down Kensington and see your product in the shop window. We’re exporting. Online, we export all around the world. Park Avenue, Nigeria, the Bahamas, Germany. You say to yourself “Wow, how did they find us?”
What was the main catalyst for growth?
We got proper funding so that we could set ourselves up. That meant we could have sufficient stock to go after a bigger market. We had huge support from all the health store sand pharmacies. We could market bigger. We’re becoming more of a household name in Ireland. From the very beginning the catalyst for us was word of mouth, somebody telling somebody else how well they felt. If we didn’t have the products, we’d have to put another nought after our marketing budget.
How did you scale/grow your business?
In the early days it was store by store. People started coming back into the retailers and telling them the benefits they were getting out of the product. There was huge belief, and then retailers started taking the product. We’ve 87 units here in Galway. If I could replicate Galway in London or Dublin…
What obstacles to growth have you faced in the past?
It’s finding the right people. You can have all the college degrees, but if you don’t have the ethos, the work ethic and the can-do attitude, you’re wasting your time.
How do you get ideas to further your business?
We get feedback from our retailers because their finger is on the pulse. We have customer feedback and we do R&D. We’re doing a marketing feasibility study with Enterprise Ireland and NUI Galway on a particular new product we hope to develop. We brought our joint product for osteoarthritis [to market] through feedback from retailers.
What motivates you to stay running a business?
I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. We’re on a mission to grow this business. We have such positive feedback here in Ireland that we’re a happy medium between business and making a difference. We’re really looking forward to cracking the UK and bringing it to Florida.
What’s your vision for the future?
We see ourselves as producing comprehensive solutions for health in a natural format. We’re in the process of doing extensive R&D to bring out a suite of products that would be welcomed right across Europe and in the US. And we want to be known as people who don’t cut corners, who don’t compromise and who deliver real results. That’s our vision.
Do you have a mentor; do you find this has positively impacted on your success?
I haven’t had a mentor. My wife is probably my closest mentor to keep me grounded.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Don’t deviate; keep your eye on the rabbit (the goal). Don’t get sidetracked. You know what you want to do. Keep going after it.
What would be your advice to businesses starting out?
I would say that you or your business must be different to gain a reputation and separate yourself from the herd. That could be as simple as having superior customer service.
What’s your favourite motivational business quote?
“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.” - Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO.
What, if anything, would you do differently?
You’re restricted at times, starting off. You’re wearing multiple hats and you don’t have a huge amount of money so you have to budget. If I were starting again, I would contract a top-class marketing advisor, web designer, and advisor on the internet.
Phone: 1800 910 000 (ROI), 0800 901 2152 (UK)
Interviewed by: Web Content Partners
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