You may remember that in May I was sent a gift from the Northern based Paleo company ‘Rawnola’ and the product was something of a revelation.
Well, since then I’ve learnt a lot more about the company, from how they set up there business to the highs and the lows of running your own company, and let me tell you, it’s inspirational. They developed a company from scratch and within months were catering for some of the UK’s largest Crossfit gyms and athletes, which to me speaks volumes about their product and work ethic.
I caught up with Rawnola boss Paul for 5 minutes and here’s what he had to say.
What were you doing before Rawnola and where did your inspiration for the company come from?
Many moons ago before RAWnola I was an athlete. I played Wheelchair Tennis for Great Britain, I was 54 in the world at my highest and 2nd in GB. I had shoulder surgery after a competing injury and this is what retired me from the sport….then I found Crossfit. A buddy was setting up his own Crossfit and asked my help in guiding him in the right direction, he in turn opened my eyes to “clean eating” and “functional movements” which had changed our lives forever.
Who else do you work with?
RAWnola is a family business and I (Paul), my partner (Alison) and our daughter (Alice) all do our part. I have Brittle Bones and met Alison at a conference that I was convening regarding my condition, her daughter also has the same condition. I adopted Alice and this is where our journey began…..
How long did it take from initial conception to launch?
RAWnola happened so fast and it probably sounds like a movie but this is how it happened. A Crossfit friend who is also a tiler was at our house tiling the bathroom floor, we got on to the conversation of being “a clean eater”. He said “it sounds a good concept but for the normal working person breakfast is the hardest part. There’s nothing that you can grab and go. If someone made a grain free breakfast that didn’t taste like sawdust it would be great”.
So I bribed Alison to come up with something just for myself, the tiler and a few others at our local Crossfit. That night Alison sat down with a pen, paper, laptop and a glass of “the bribe”; the recipe of the first take of rawnola was made. The next day 4 bags evolved for people to try out….. Everyone loved it but when we worked out the nutritional value it was way to high in natural sugars and fat. Work on the nutritional side was done and the next day the new version was made, that was 25th May 2014. In the first week we started off making 10 bags to see how it went, word spread on social media and by the end of June we had a factory up and running, word had spread at Crossfit competitions and the official launch was at the Rainhill Trials at the end of June 2014.
What’s been the most fun part of the process?
There have been lots of fun parts, to pick one would be hard. The speed at which things have grown has been amazing, and we still can’t believe where we are a year down the line, but most of all meeting the stockists and getting to know them personally has been the best part. We feel that the most important part is that if someone picks up the phone…….they know who they’re talking to; they know that person by being a friend first. Understanding how a business works, its peeks and its pitfalls is very important in understanding your friend, stockist and client.
What’s the most challenging part of having your own business?
Juggling business and family life has been the biggest challenge. Our daughter Alice has been very very ill and in and out of hospital a lot over the past 2 years, weeks on end juggling a new business and hospital stays and appointments 90 miles from home has been a massive challenge. If we can manage to do so well in hard times and grow stronger as a business and family then we must be doing something right. It’s been crazy at times, driving from Sheffield Hospital back home to Wigan to pull off a 12 hour shift, leave the factory at 2am and be up at 5am to drive to an event has become the “norm”……be we do it. Life isn’t challenging, it’s the barriers people put up against themselves that are the challenges. If having a disability has taught me something it’s this “no matter what life throws at you, find a way past it. If life puts in front of you a step…..find a ramp, if life throws you lemons………find a bloody good Gin”
What advice do you have for other aspiring food/fitness entrepreneurs?
Be passionate! Know your market! Know your people. Think about who sells it and what they go through, how can you help them? What do people want, who do you aim your product at. How does your product differ from others on the market? How can you protect your product, if your product needs trademarking to stop others copying it then make sure you do that as soon as you can; but first make sure no one already has the trademark before you start to sell your product.
What is your diet/exercise routine like?
At the moment its air squats and burpees at the factory, we are in a very busy transitional period and almost every second is spent working. I see a day when we have more time to look after ourselves …… at the moment there isn’t much time. Being honest before Crossfit when I part of the GB team my regime was horrific, if I knew then what I know now……..I’d of kicked serious ASS! Cleaning up your eating and training correctly is KEY!!! Be functional, be flexible and feed your engine correctly. If I made a petrol in my shed and said “put this in your car…..would you?” You are the most important person so look after yourself and what you eat.
Finally, where can people buy your products?
You can find RAWnola via your local Crossfit, if your Crossfit does not stock us……….ask WHY! We do not sell direct to the public as our aim is to help others first………then us. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is where you can find us…….we will point you in the direction of who sells us.
You can also find RAWnola on: