Founder Interview | Guy Hacking @ TRIBE
TRIBE was inspired by a 1,000 mile run across Eastern Europe which my co-founders and I completed to raise funds for the fight against human trafficking.
Frustrated with highly synthetic, sugary, awful tasting ‘performance’ products marketed to us we set about creating a range of plant-based products that would help us perform in our daily lives.
Alongside this we wanted to build a brand that would capture the spirit of this adventure by connecting our TRIBE and using our energy as a force for good. We have now had over 100k attendees to TRIBE events and raised over £500k for the fight against human trafficking.
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Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
We had a real pain point as customers. We wanted a natural snacking product that tasted great and helped us perform. That did not exist so we set about creating it.
What inspired you to do what you do?
Our 1,000 mile run was the catalyst for everything we do at TRIBE. We want to fuel our TRIBE to find their own adventure, big and small and use that as a force for good.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
Investing in Health - All our products are plant based, low in sugar, and a source of vitamins and minerals to support active lifestyles.
Connecting with others - it is in the name, TRIBE, we believe we can go further and faster together. More than ever people want authentic brands that they can connect with.
Giving back - with over £500k raised for our foundation we are using our business as a force for good. Consumers want to know that their choice to buy into a brand doesn’t come at the expense of the world around them
What did you do before starting your company & what made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I worked as an investment banker, and found my job super interesting, but as the son of an entrepreneur I knew I would not be happy with my career if I did not create something. I feel genuinely lucky that each day at TRIBE we are building something new that wouldn’t exist without our graft and creativity.
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
To win at the start you have to be able to balance big picture, visionary thinking and detailed execution. With a boot strapped organisation you need to be able to wear both these hats.
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
We launched TRIBE as an exclusively online business originally. This meant we had to build our community one by one. We built this very organically over a couple of years and only then did we move into retail.
In hindsight we should have moved into retail quicker to drive scale, but thankfully as a result we now have a super strong online business with a highly engaged community of over 100k online customers, which we would not have had otherwise.
What keeps you motivated?
The snacking fixture is still dominated by massive multinationals. I don’t believe that grocery shelves will be filled with Mars and Snickers bars in 10 years time. Our mission and our products are of the moment and we are only just getting started. We can be the brand that shapes the snacking mission for the next decade and help the world in the process. That is exciting.
What do you do in your spare time outside of business life?
Running is still a big part of my life. I particularly love mountain ultra-marathons at the moment. So if I am not with my amazing family you can find me exploring trials in the UK and Europe.
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
It is easier than ever to start a snack brand. But as a result, it has never been harder to cut through and win in an increasingly crowded market.
Being able to cut through the noise, and find a way to connect with your TRIBE, understand what they need and how to get it to them is critical to success. This changes by customer cohort, time of year and product group so a segmented go to market strategy is essential.
What would you say is your biggest strength?
This has been drilled into me over my life, but was crystallized during our 1,000 mile run where the idea for TRIBE was born. Nothing worthwhile comes without hard work and sacrifice.
At TRIBE we didn't have the perfect product on day one, but by working hard and continuing to make progress we have found a way to build something special, piece by piece. Customer by customer.
What would you say is your biggest weakness & how do you look to overcome this?
Saying ‘no’. I see opportunity everywhere, often when there is none. Having an honest debate with co-founders helps filter out many of my hair brained ideas.
If you could sit down with yourself for a pint/glass of wine/coffee this time last year…..what would be the 3 most important tips you would give yourself knowing what you know now?
Diversity is important - black swan events like COVID are by definition unpredictable. Over reliance on a single channel, customer or route to market leaves you exposed. We were lucky to have this breadth and are now in a more robust position than we would have been otherwise.
Continue pushing to improve - if I look back at things I did 6 months ago I think how much better we would do them now. If you are happy to stand still you will be left behind. Embrace this speed of change. It is progress.
Keep your end customer at the heart of everything - remember we are making products for people not for retailers. If enough customers want it the retailer is just the intermediary that facilitates them purchasing it!
Any plans or predictions you can share with us for the rest of 2020?
In an increasingly uncertain world people are going to double down on the simple and important things in life.
- Feeling connected with their TRIBE.
- Mental and physical health of themselves, their friends and family.
- Being a good global citizen