Starling Portrait Series – Nourished: Breaking down the barriers of nutrition

More often than not, business is about looking at how things have been done before and having the courage and imagination to reinvent the rules. That’s what Anne Boden did when she created Starling Bank, a digital bank for personal and business current accounts. Starling was born out of her determination to give customers control over their money, and provide a real alternative to the banks of the past. Starling strives to be fast, friendly and supportive – just like a murmuration of starling birds.

In this series, we’ll be shining a light on other Great British entrepreneurs who, just like Anne, are pioneers of change.

Our next entrepreneur is Starling business customer Melissa Snover, founder of Nourished.

There’s an often-spoken line when it comes to career choices; “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. That appears to be especially true for entrepreneurs, and Melissa Snover is no different. 

Growing up in Colorado, Melissa learned the value of hard work from her parents. “Since I was a little girl I have always been a perfectionist, and my mother tells me I had an entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age,” she starts.  

“I was raised by two very hard-working parents, which I believe set the standard for my own work ethic from early on.”

More than the value of work ethic, however, Melissa attributes her self-belief and ambition to her parents, too. 

She explains: “They have always instilled in me that I could achieve anything I wanted to, which I think has had a vast impact on my career. 

“My mother used to say to me, ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it’. And that has always stuck with me through my entire entrepreneurial journey.”

A long road

Some entrepreneurs find success with their first business, or even their first idea. For many others like Melissa, however, it’s a long road to success. 

“I never set out to become an entrepreneur,” she admits, “I have just always been passionate about developing new ideas and entrepreneurship was the path that my passion took me on.”

Melissa started her first business in 2010. Way ahead of the trend we see in veganism today, she created Goody Good Stuff, which was the world’s first vegan confectionery brand. 

“I was met with a huge amount of criticism from certain retailers (many of which now stock a huge variety of vegan products) that told me ‘no one cares about vegan food’,” she laughs.

“But I persevered because I’m incredibly passionate about animal welfare and sustainability, and I managed to develop a network of 30,000 sales points in 33 countries worldwide.”

That’s quite an achievement at a time when “no one cares about vegan food”.

In 2015, Melissa started Magic Candy Factory, the first 3D printing confectionery company to come to market. It was a business that won awards for its innovation and creativity, able to produce unique and bespoke confectionery designs from people’s faces or corporate logos. But it wasn’t to be where Melissa would settle. 

Nourishing the body (and entrepreneurial mind)

Still identifying problems and formulating solutions, Melissa took her experience from Goody Good Stuff and Magic Candy Factory and applied it to a new business, Nourished, which launched in 2019.

A health-conscious individual, Melissa has used vitamins and supplements for years, but the process of taking them was growing tiresome, and sometimes even embarrassing.

“I was sick of having to choke back different vitamins and pills each morning as part of my nutrition regime,” she said. 

“I wanted to develop a new method for the way we think about and consume nutrition.”

Nourished is the world’s first truly personalised and 3D printed nutrition product. It combines up to seven high-impact, active ingredients into one customised nutrition snack. Customers complete a short, lifestyle questionnaire before Nourished makes a recommendation of vitamins and superfoods based on their lifestyle, goals and preferences. 

“Before Covid, I used to travel all over the world and carry all my different vitamins with me in a bag,” Melissa says. 

“On one occasion, I dropped my bag of supplements all over the floor at airport security and had to crawl around in my suit and heels trying to pick them up. 

“Everyone is unique, and I believe their nutrition regime should be too. I wanted to help people live a healthier life and make their vitamins more convenient, enjoyable, sustainable, and most importantly – personalised. Of all the things we personalise, our health and wellness should be top priority.”

Breaking down barriers

When Melissa launched the business in May 2019, she started with four employees but has grown to a team of 70 across food production, marketing, finance and customer service. In that time, sales have increased 667% through its monthly subscription model, while it has secured a retail listing with Selfridges for its Life Stack range and its new Nourished Kids products hitting Selfridges’ shelves in the near future.

With Nourished, Melissa is breaking down barriers in more ways than one. Its own market research uncovered that consumers can often pay up to £100 more for the same quality, active ingredients when bought separately. Nourished is making personalised nutrition more accessible than ever before. 

Meanwhile, in 2020 Melissa completed the company’s first investment round, raising £2 million; breaking the record for the most amount of seed capital raised by a female founder in the UK. It’s a story that led to Melissa being named Disruptor of the Year for the Midlands at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2020. 

Resilience and dedication

Having launched just a few months before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nourished’s first 18 months have been a whirlwind. So, we caught up with Melissa to find out a little more about how things have gone, and what the future looks like. 

How have you and the business fared since the start of the pandemic?

We have been lucky enough to be relatively unaffected by factors such as shipping delays, caused by the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, Nourished was only four months old and we were just getting ourselves established in the market. We were entering at a very uncertain time.

All of our Nourished products are created in Birmingham and online orders are shipped directly to consumers’ homes. We control our entire UK-based supply chain and 3D print each product to order. We have continued to grow and provide our services to our customers throughout the pandemic.

We did however have to reassess plans on a regular basis as the news changed. I am proud of our team’s resilience and dedication to remain focused throughout these difficult times. We have continued to grow and have been hiring throughout the pandemic, which is even more rewarding considering how many great people are being displaced due to the fallout in the job market.

In addition, as a business, we have all come together to support each other and our local communities. At the start of the pandemic, we turned our R&D lab into a facility to make our own hand sanitizer as it was in such short supply. We distributed it to our customers, local care homes, NHS workers, and the local council. 

The creation of these products took extra time and energy from my team, but it really helped us to feel like we had some control and could make a positive difference in the face of huge unknowns. Helping others and having a sense of community is really important in times like this and it enables us to have a sense of purpose and achievement

What has been the biggest factor in your success?

To be successful it is essential to be prepared to work hard, fail, and learn from your mistakes. Creating something new and innovative is challenging because there are no rule books to read and step-by-step guides to follow, but the satisfaction you feel when it is a success is so worth it. As mentioned earlier, I am proud of the team’s hard work and resilience that has pushed Nourished forward each and every day.

What are your immediate and long-term plans for the business?

We are just about to launch a new Nourishment that will be available in ‘Personalised Stacks’ on our website. We currently have a range of 30 different Nourishments that customers can choose from when building their Stacks. At the end of July, we are introducing our 31st, BPL1 which has some game-changing weight management properties. Our team is constantly keeping up to date with the latest clinical medical trials and research to find groundbreaking new ways to expand our line of Nourishments and product offerings.

In the long term, I would love to see our innovations in this sector creating bespoke solutions for millions of people around the world and improving their healthcare and quality of life.

Melissa is a proven serial entrepreneur who brings innovations to market in whatever she does. Importantly, though, with Nourished, she is bringing innovation to the health market and breaking down barriers as she does it.