From Multi-Million Pound Trampoline Park to eCommerce w/ Sam Williams – #11

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The Brand Builder Show
From Multi-Million Pound Trampoline Park to eCommerce w/ Sam Williams – #11

Welcome to this week’s episode of the Brand Builder Show! You’re in for a treat this week as we sit down with Samantha Williams. Having launched (no pun intended) a trampoline park to multi-million-pound revenues and 2 separate sites within just 2 years, Samantha has now transitioned into building her own Ecommerce branch.

Key Topics:

  • The highs and lows of starting a trampoline park
  • The systems driven approach that enabled multi-million pound growth
  • How Samantha is now launching her supplement brand with national press

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Ben Donovan  0:00  
Well hello friends and welcome to another episode of The Brand Builder Show. Today’s episode is going to be a another cracker. I’m joined by Sam. Sam is one of the beloved members of our Brand Builder University community. She has a crazy business story. She launched a trampoline park of all things a few years ago. Quickly grew at multimillion pound revenues in under two years. Crazy, crazy journey and then actually walked away from that and recently started her own e commerce brand. In this episode, she tells the whole story, the challenges, the ups, the downs, the stresses are just so much in there that it’s going to be applicable no matter what stage of the journey you’re at. So definitely stick around for that. 

If you join these episodes, then you’ll definitely also enjoy the Brand Builder newsletter. Each week, we send out a newsletter covering all of the latest updates, everything that’s going on in the world of Amazon and Ecommerce. All you need to do to sign up is go to Brand Builder uni dot com slash newsletter, and you’ll start getting that in your inbox every single Wednesday. Okay, without further ado, let’s get into this episode and learn all about this incredible journey Sam has had in the world of entrepreneurship. Also why I’m here with my good friend, Sam. Sam, welcome to the Brand Builder show.

Samantha Williams  1:10  
Thank you, Ben. I’m really looking forward to today. Thanks for inviting me.

Ben Donovan  1:14  
Yeah, me too. Me too. I remember when you joined Brand Builder University, I think, coming over a year ago now earlier this year, and just thinking like, gosh, this woman’s got something about her and thinking she is going to absolutely smash it in this business. So I’m excited to dive into your kind of history because there’s lots of interesting stuff to talk about. And then you know what you’re doing now in the e-commerce space. Super excited for your new brand that we’ll talk about in the  show. But before we do that, give us a little bit of intro background on yourself. And then we’ll probably dive into some of those aspects. But yeah, what do you been up to over the last few years?

Samantha Williams  1:50  
So Well, thank you very much for that really flattering introduction. I just don’t know if I deserve it. But now, I, well, it depends where you want me to go back to but I as a person I grew up in Herefordshire.  Always loved math at school ended up going on to study math at university. And then did a one year, accountancy placement didn’t find it. floated my boat, I guess, I’m quite creative in my thinking, which obviously leads me to being entrepreneurial. And so I ended up going back into university doing a masters and then I put my sins ended up in the city for 10 years as a trader, and worked in New York and London. And it was really exciting. But again, I didn’t really feel like I’d found my groove. And it was only when I stopped working to have my family that I really sort of took a step back and go, “What do I want to do? I want to run my own business, I want to be in charge of my own destiny.” And so back in 2012, I was living in Paris with my husband for his work. And I had three small children. Wasn’t able to work whilst I was out there. 

So I started coming up with some creative business ideas and ended up coming up with the idea of starting a trampoline park business, which I think you probably agree as your first business is not the sort of not for the faint hearted and not what usually you would do. I didn’t sort of think about it in that way. I just knew that Trampoline Park, which didn’t exist in the UK at the time, it was over in the US. And I’d seen it on a US TV program, because we had French TV so and I saw that and thought,  “Wow, that doesn’t exist in the UK!” And I was into fitness, obviously had small children wanting to do something that encompassed the family entertainment, if you like. So I started working on the business plan. And we moved back in 2014. And at that point, I developed fully fledged this business. Pam was working with a team, a private equity group in London, who in the end, I realized I was doing the hard graft and they were supposed to be raising the money and they didn’t so I stepped away from them. But in the process of all my research I’d come across a trampoline park manufacturer in the US who picked up the phone and said, “I want to partner with you.” So that’s how the partnership was born. And I could probably go into more depth about the mistakes I probably made in jumping into that partnership without having done my due diligence. But needless to say I went into business with him and I started the trampoline park brand called Rush Trampoline Parks which, in UK there’s two parks: one in High Wycombe and one in Birmingham.  I started off with one park and really did it for my kitchen table. I know it sort of sounds quite what’s the word, tweeter say that, but for the first year when I came back in 2014, I was energized by the fact that a trampoline park suddenly opened in Camberley, gravity force and one in King so I was a bit gutted at the time thinking, “Gosh, I’m not first market!” But I think in that factor did me a favor because it informed people about what a trampoline park was. So they’ve done all the marketing. So I found a site in High Wycombe. And then the challenge that I faced from that November 2014 to the following December to get open was huge in terms of negotiating on leases, getting planning consent project, managing the build, hiring the staff, putting all the contracts in place. 

I mean, designing the inside of the park, designing the website…it was just a huge, huge project. And now looking back, I can’t really quite believe that I did it. But it was I was I blinkered and head down, and “I am going to do this”. And I think the advice I would give to people who are looking to start businesses to rather than look at Mount Everest, look at just approaching each base camp and getting to each level. Because if you look at the big, bigger picture, look at what you’re trying to set out to achieve, it could terrify you. But I didn’t approach it in that way. I just had goals and targets and short term goals that I had to achieve.

And yeah, the doors at the trampoline park open. And I guess I’d been so anchored by that when the park opens and it was hugely successful. I think the UK market was crying out for new indoor leisure activities. We were late in opening it with various delays that we had 10,000 customers within two weeks. And it was like letting a tiger out of the cage and the manager that I had recruited in to start the park with, unbeknownst to me was really just factfinding because he wanted to go and do something for himself. So within a week he’d left so I was left with no operational experience. I’ve never run a trampoline park. Didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I mean, I remember early days, my husband had to sort of take off his Christmas holidays to help me because it was just before Christmas that we opened. And we would take back the TAT and be counting these coins on our kitchen table. So basically the cash and take, you know one time I think I had a rucksack full of about three grand and sort of locked the doors of the park and crept into my car. I mean, it was insane money if you think of it now and the business by year two was turning over 6 million. It was bonkers. 

So what happened was with that is that obviously started,  got very overwhelmed very quickly because I’d already negotiated the lease on a second site and my business partner who’s over in the US had these big ambitions to launch lots of sites but didn’t really want to help. So it was all down to me and my husband could see the burden of stress that was going on for me. As well, we’ve taken on some personal guarantees on some debt to put our equity. So he decided bravely to sit down from his position, he worked in the city as well and joined me in June of 2016 to help me launch the second park. I have to say, it’s a bit like, I’m the visionary and he was the integrator and if you’re familiar with the traction, but everything was coming to me because I’m not or haven’t been the most organized of people, everything’s in my head. 

I wouldn’t advise this or recommend this to anyone else starting a business. I just didn’t have time because it can so everything was in my head and everyone was coming to me. The answers were all there. But they weren’t, you know, on paper or in a file somewhere. I remember my husband saying, “Where’s the file on this?”  I’m like, “It’s in an email somewhere that I received back in May.” And he’s like, “Oh, my goodness, we need to sort this out.” So he was amazing, because he came in, and he basically put operational procedures, manuals, and processes and order into place where I haven’t put an order because I think things just took off too quickly for me to be able to achieve that. And we built the second park together, which again, open to roaring success. And  it was a huge burden ride to be on that journey. So yeah, so that’s where I sort of was and where you want me to stop. I can carry on.

Ben Donovan  9:21  
Yeah, let’s pause. No, we’ll carry on. Let’s pause for so many questions. No, that’s amazing. Amazing. And then so both of those sites combined, what did you sort of max out in terms of revenue with those?

Samantha Williams  9:31  
So yeah, in the second year, the total revenue, it was Birmingham, I would say, was two thirds of the revenue and higher than the third roughly split. 6 million in year two is by the end of 2017. 

So you want a second site in the second year.

Yeah, all right. Well, actually within a year, so I opened the first site in 2015 and the next one open November 2016. .

Ben Donovan  9:59  
That is some quick expansion. I do remember though, I lived in Australia for like 18 months 2012, 2013. And we went to a trampoline park in Sydney. It was the first time I’d ever heard of anything like it. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this has to come back to the UK. This is insane.” And so it was, funnily enough, my brother-in-law, as was always saying to me, like, “Oh, we should find some way to start one of those”.  I’m like, “Can you imagine the startup costs, the health and safety issues, the compliance issues?”  Oh, it would just stress me out so much.

Samantha Williams  10:34  
Yes. And you know, what, actually, that was something that really hit hard for me. So obviously, my vision for Rush was I hadn’t prepared to behave and for parents, and I’m passionate about that, because I dragged my little ones around soft play centers, and nasty sort of sticky floors. And, you know, not very nice food and plastic seats. And I just remember thinking there have to be something more out there for the parent, because you know, we’re going out there, and we’re more likely to go again, if it’s nice for us. So obviously, great for the kids, but they seemingly didn’t care as much, as long as the parents were happy, the parents would pay to go back. So that was really a sort of driving force to me, but also, I just want to, I have this belief in everyone’s just gonna love it. And it’s like utopia, and everyone’s gonna have a great time. Having those first few, I just realized that people can be quite mean, and the public can be quite mean, and they have no idea what you’re putting into something. And some of the comments and feedback, you get them, say, from reading the criticisms, and this isn’t right and that isn’t right. 

I remember within the first two weeks, one of the customer service team was supposed to send out party invitations to this customer. They hadn’t received them in time, because we were just inundated with calls and emails. So there was this nasty comment on Twitter. I just took it really to heart personally and I ended up driving to Marlow nearby to drop these invitations off and got a parking ticket. I just remember driving on the way home and fled to go in a flood of tears and, “I can’t do this…”  So after that, I realized I needed to put layers in between me and because obviously, when I first started, I had the safety net to have me introducing myself, “Hi I’m Sam! Welcome to Rush.” And then I was walking around the park and do one thing, “There she is! There she is!”  Oh, my goodness. So I had to sort of create some anonymity for myself, because a lot of people would walk in the park and go, “I’m a friend of Sam’s, and she said, I can come in for free.”  The customers, people are, the public can be cheeky sometimes, and I think I found that shocking. I was fairly naive and green about that. 

And then the other thing that was really, really tough was that three months after the park opened, one of the areas of the park was a high performance arena was which was most of the Olympic trampolines with boxes that you dump. And there was a girl who’s 17 a very slight in bodyweight girl and she came to the park and she hyper extended off one of the boxes and fractured both her tibia bone in both legs. And free Caxton nothing wrong with the campaign’s it was just one of those things, she hit hard, and she was airlifted to hospital. And I happen to know the parents.  I found that’s really tough, really, you know, because I didn’t set out to set up a business that would create that. And that was when the health safety sort of side of things really hit home and I was like responsible. And so yeah, like you say the compliance and health and safety and all of those issues were the things that kept me awake at night. 

Ben Donovan  13:53  
I can only imagine how much that would play on your mind, how stressful that would be. Like you say, you can do everything right but just because of the nature of the product or service, there’s always going to be potential for that, isn’t there? So it’s very difficult. You know, three months in is a real rough time for it to do it as well. Did it ever make you think, “Gosh, this is all going to come crashing down?” Or did you have to deal with those kind of thoughts?

Samantha Williams  14:19  
Yeah, absolutely. Because you suddenly sort of question what you’re doing before because you think like this is the whole point of this was, you know, I’ve never been motivated by money essentially, was I wanted to do something that I could put my rubber stamp on, “I did this. I created this business.” And that’s my legacy type of thing. Then to have that happen, it really made me question what I was doing or maybe not want to do it. You know, I was like, “Oh my god, this is too much. I’ve taken on too much.” Thank goodness, I have an amazing husband who was incredibly supportive, and he could see what I’d created and wanted to be there to help me through it. And I think like I say we were very good team. In many respects, although it is challenging working with your staff, there’s no question. But, and there’s no cutoff. For several years, there was no sort of work and home it was, everything was about luck. And the kids turned about. They had a great time is to go and play and bounce at Rush, and especially when they’re little, but there was no divide or separation between work and home life. And that was challenging.

Ben Donovan  15:27  
Yeah, you feel like it’d be every kid’s dream for their mom and dad to own a trampoline park, but I’m sure it had its challenges.

Samantha Williams  15:33  
It was. But yeah, I think it was that part of like mommy and daddy always talking about that.

Ben Donovan  15:41  
So true. 

Samantha Williams  15:44  
I think the other thing that’s really, I remember just before the park opened, and suddenly it dawned on me that I was going to be responsible for people’s lives. And I was an employer. And that frightened me as well. I was like, “Oh, my goodness, you know, people’s income is reliant on the job that I’m providing.” And learning how to be a manager of people is also difficult. Initially, I was just too nice to everyone. Not to say you need to be horrible to people, but it’s about consistency. It’s about making sure that you are consistent across the board, because if you do something wrong, the other person is going to hear about it. Particularly when you’re in a business where you got a lot of young staff, teenagers and early 20s, they all talk to each other. No, and so it is about setting up framework and boundaries and a structure, if you like progression. 

So that kind of really took a while to put into place and evolve. Initially, it was all hands on deck. But we were able to then put that into place and some pay structures and so on. So everything was a learning curve, a huge learning curve. You know, we had to learn along the way and we made mistakes, you know, we do you know, but we always owned up to that, I think that’s one thing I would say, I was always very honest with my staff. If I’d made a mistake, I would have to say, “You know what, I’ve got that wrong. I apologize, or let’s move on from it.” So yeah, I have to say, you know, talking about it, it’s a build of this feeling inside of me, which I can’t quite sort of, say, whether it’s anxiety or pride, or, you know, I think what people used to say to me, because you must be so proud of what you’ve achieved in the built, but I didn’t see it at the time. I mean, it was just so full on and stressful. It’s only afterwards, I guess, since I’ve left Russia and gone back into the building and looked at it. And, you know, once you’re in it, it’s really hard to do.

Ben Donovan  17:55  
Hard to read the label whilst you’re in the bottle, as they say. So you talked about that challenge of everything getting crazy, you feel like everything was on you. And then having to sort of build some systems, I think every entrepreneur can relate to that when you start something, you know, in E commerce, which is what we talk about a lot, you start on your own, and then everything gets crazy busy, and you have to start to try and get help. And then you set it all lives in your head like that is probably you know, 90% of entrepreneurs feel that wrestle early on, and then you have to move away from that, right, you have to start getting it out of your head and into some systems, where there’s some things that you remember doing that was significant to help you with that to help it grow in the way that it did?

Samantha Williams  18:39  
Yeah, I mean, obviously, our businesses at that scale with so many inputs and outputs, we needed an accountant and a decent sort of accounting software. So very quickly, we used a fantastic local accounting firm, who’s brilliant, and there’s zero accounting software, which are now used as part of this business. So that was really, really important. We used a HR consultancy company to help us with payroll, and we got them involved in building a piece of software that was very bespoke for business, to check unions, and, and so on and contracts as well.  When obviously the bigger things that, when a business grows, you didn’t have to put into place as a smaller business, but you know, you need to have contracts and contract terms and, you know, a big payroll system with HR advice, and, and good accounting software. Then obviously the other thing that my husband and I did was we created a schedule of weekly Zoom calls or conference calls. Not doing at the time. And with the Birmingham branch, when that launched, what we wanted to do is run it as a sort of to achieve economies of scale. We needed to run as one business with two separate branches like … being consistent with both. 

So and also sharing best practices and best ideas. We had to make sure that we had calls so we would have an operating committee call; we would have a duty managers call; we would have a food and beverage call.  You know, we would do across the week, and people would moan a bit initially about that and our cost to get another call. but it was creating accountability and making people turn up for it. They had to present a certain measure, you know, financial notables each week that we could then see progression from a sort of a weekly update, and each manager had a different deliverable for that. So that was really important so that we could all have a benchmark to see what we’re working against. So they, those sort of things were really, really crucial. And, obviously, from a health and safety standpoint, from our insurers, we had to make sure that we had really robust processes in terms of accident reporting. So there was a lot, a lot.

Ben Donovan  21:08  
Yeah, no, I could, like I say, just stressing me out just thinking about it. But the girl that broke loose, did you did you have to face any legal action because of that?

Samantha Williams  21:17  
Well, interestingly, well, they did try and make a … but there was no claim to make, because there wasn’t anything to prove. So they, they did, and I mean, gosh, that was the first of many. So we would have different level: code red, then record, if there was, you know, a link to data down to someone sticking plaster on someone who raised their hand. And also, we had various, what we call spurious claims, like people trying to make change. So he had CCTV camera, and we had a system where, you know, that camera, put a chat to be clicked, and it had to be recorded down, and an accident report had to be filled in, and then, you know, depending on the level of severity, reported to the insurance company, so it was an ongoing story, if you like. And yes, we had several claims. But we’ve managed to pretty much fight most of them. I think, the one claim that we had, which stands in hindsight, that’s silly, but we put some benches on the platform on our mezzanine floor, and an old lady sat on it, and the bench wasn’t pinned down, she’d had a hip replacement, and the bench slipped, and she fell off it. That’s fair enough. bolted it to the floor. And that was a lesson then. So you know, but not many, many, that we had to sort of really face not because the thing is, we had the procedures, we have all the duty manager checks to check all the cabling to make sure the safe and all the springs would check every day. I mean, there’s a lot that has done just to make sure.

Ben Donovan  22:53  
Credit to you, you know, a lot in terms of sounds like a lot of good systems and processes in place. Did you have you talked about traction, ERS, that kind of thing? Did you have those things actually active in that business? Or is that something you’ve learned since?

Samantha Williams  23:09  
No, about a year before I left Rush, I was approached by an organization called Vistage. And they’re an organization that run groups of CEO. I was called a CEO. But basically you don’t like CEOs. And you share best practices and issue processing and learn how to manage your business better through sharing best ideas. I was invited to join this group, which was the great thing to join. I only wish I’d been invited to join it sooner. Because I learned a lot from people in different industries that wasn’t in the same industry. But you know you talk in an open, honest way. What goes behind those foreclose walls you don’t share. It’s confidential, but it enabled you to sort of open and speak to people who are in the same boat as you and say, I don’t know what to do here, I’ve got this member of staff has been tricky in what I do, or, you know, I’ve got this going on all that. And so, and in that EOS is a is a big part of Vistage, and they sort of heavier, they have keynote speakers coming in and talking about it. So I found it really interesting when the keynote speaker came in and talked about that, and read the books and listen to a couple other sort of further books and just thought, “Wow, when I do my next business, I’m going to find him from an era.” So and I do intend to do that. I mean, in a sense, in a way is definitely at the moment. So but we’re still learning about ways in which you know, keep people in like key seats. There’s so many examples where I’d hired the wrong person, but tried to make it work by changing the job. And now, you know, I guess, that there’s so many mistakes and lessons that I learned with Rush that I really feel is like having had an MBA, but on the practical MBA. So you know how to roll up my sleeves and learn, learn on the way, so I can apply all of those learnings to this new business that I’m doing. I think that that in itself has been quite empowering.

Ben Donovan  25:10  
Definitely. That’s really good. Yeah, I’d love to talk about that transition into what you’re doing now. And how that has your past sort of histories either hindered you or helped you.  What was the kind of the ending with with Rush? How did that all play out? Or how come you decided to walk away from that?

Samantha Williams  25:28  
So being really honest with you, when I mentioned to you before about doing the due diligence, when you go into partnership with someone, and I hadn’t really done the right due diligence. A guy based in Atlanta, Georgia, who ran trampoline park manufacturing business and had this idea of getting involved in the operational side of the business and partnering up with various different people. I guess got caught into that relationship that wants that relationship was legally binding, if you like in terms of the equity split, and so on, then the goalposts suddenly changed. So by example, he invested into the first park, but then wanted to start the second park without putting any further investment into it.  Which is why we ended up with personal guarantees, because we took our asset finance to finance that. We, being in UK, that the UK mortgage meant that our necks are on the line, but there was no change in equity split so the long and the short of it was, you know, that original agreement sort of gave me a minimal salary. And obviously, the idea was that we would earn money from dividends and so on. But unfortunately, it didn’t sort of happen that way, because the second park was built very quickly. 

And then in 2018, the heatwave of 2018 really impacted or tampering in indoor leisure, actually, sales fell off a cliff. So it ended up that I was fixed on this very low salary, my husband came in to help me and he was being paid even less. Despite 17 attempts to raise it at board level, my business partner wasn’t prepared to budge on that. And so financially as a couple, we were going further and further underwater, because we were earning a third, I think of what we had combined what my husband’s previous income was working three times as hard probably with a lot more on our shoulders. So my husband ended up going back into the city, because we couldn’t afford him to stay in the business.  I continue to run the business. We had a really fantastic general manager, who was who became a sort of group head, and he was fantastic. I worked with him, but it was still a struggle. I think I then ended up trying to find a business partner, because it was very difficult running a business where you’ve got 50-50 vote on the board, but you can’t get hold of your business partner, because he’s on a trip to Alaska on a motorbike or, you know, he retired from his, he sold his company in park manufacturing business and retired. 

Then he was really difficult to get hold of.  I couldn’t make decisions.  I couldn’t move the business forward in a direction that needed to be moved into. So it just became an untenable relationship. And I stopped enjoying it for that reason. I just thought this is stressful and not worth it for what I’m getting out of it. So when lockdown hit in March 2020, at that point anyway, I’ve tried to negotiate this deal and borrow some money to buy the business partner and it fell through and then our relationship turned sour. And it was just like, “You know what, I’ll keep this business afloat and hand over the keys to you.” But then which I managed to do with some sort of clever accounting and use various methods to try and keep the cash because obviously, we stopped earning money and actually closed the doors and that was really stressful and difficult. But I just realized that that was the right time for me to step away. 

So yeah, and I’m glad I did that. I think it was the right time, I’m very able to sort of compartmentalize and put that into my back of the brain, you know, I’ve done that. But at the time, we’d like to move away. I didn’t walk away with an awful lot, if I’m honest, out of that, because unfortunately, you know, the business was losing a lot of money through lockdown, and just about most to keep it solvent and handed over periods. So and I’m proud of that in outdoor solvent position was really challenging because I know a lot of parks went out of business in that time. 

Yeah. So and I have to say as well through the 2017 to 2019. On a personal note, I hadn’t realized that I was very stressed from running the business understandably. So it was affecting me on a personal health on a health basis, so there was one time I ended up in the … where I’d lost feeling down one side. And they sort of did a CT scan and they said, there’s nothing wrong with you we think you’re just stressed. And a couple of times when, you know, my mood was so low, I felt really low and go to the doctors. And he would say, oh, you know, like, you’re just really stressed, but I can’t like get off work ’cause you’re the boss. But unbeknownst to me, all of that, and this probably leads quite nicely into the next page was, I was going to early menopause. And I hadn’t realized that that was what was going on with me. So I wasn’t taking, I wasn’t eating too particularly well, my anxiety levels were through the roof, and everything I was putting, attributing to Rush. But now in hindsight, I realized that it was also due to the fact my hormones were all over the place.  I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I wasn’t able to sort of continue because it wasn’t making me happy. I needed to move away from it. 

So I’m really glad that I did it. And I’m really proud of what I achieved and what I learned. And do I have any regrets? I suppose the only regret I have is to have done my due diligence and gone into, we could have we headed off to go into business with other people. My husband, my office, we would have done it differently or would have stopped to one park, we would have been in a totally different situation now. And we probably have a lot more money in the bank. But no, you live and learn. And I just think that life is a constant journey of learning, isn’t it? So it’s the thing that I enjoyed the most about Rush was the process of getting an apron on that entrepreneurial journey. It was a fully established up and running business with staff, to audit staff and a million customers. I didn’t enjoy it as much. So I think that I am, as I say, I love the visionary part of starting a business and that creativity.

Ben Donovan  31:54  
Yeah, honestly, it’s an incredible achievement. So you know, see that kind of grows and systemize it and the staff and launch that second location and just incredible, incredible achievement. So you know, you should be 100% proud of that. But I can understand those regrets. I think, you know, that’s a very common thing for entrepreneurs as well as to look back and think, “Man, I wish I’d have done X, Y and Z are different.” But you’re right. You know, it’s, I once said, I once saw someone say, you know, someone said, would you do anything different if you did it all over again? And they said, Well, no, because you learn, you learn the job in the job, you know, and that’s the only way you can do it. There’s no point having those conversations with yourself about I’ve only I could do my time again, because less than where you are today. And so now I think you’ve done an amazing job and excited for what you’re doing now, which is launching into E-commerce and what made you kind of make that shift? What was it about e- commerce and selling on Amazon and that kind of thing that got you enticed?

Samantha Williams  32:52  
Well, so in the August of 2020, obviously left Rush and took a bit of time out just to recover physically, emotionally. Actually was training to be a Vistage chair, which is the Vistage group I was telling you about. Because of whatever I you know, this is a good idea I can do this and relevant to a group of CEOs. But then during that process, I just realized that I wanted to be doing it again. I wanted to be the fee, I didn’t want to be chairing it, I wanted to you know, I still had this entrepreneurial drive and I was like I need to be doing it not help not coaching people. And that’s just who I am. And so I started to sort of explore various ideas and I remember very, very distinctly how I came about finding you. 

So my son is a competitive swimmer. He is 16 years old and during lockdown in the Christmas of December last year the local club managed to get some pool time at the local ride lie down in Wickham which has outdoor pool. It was freezing cold and the only time I could get with five in the morning. So I’m going on flying and driving there with my family well I can’t go home there’s not enough time so I had like a sleeping bag or something or a duvet on top of me and I thought there’s no time to sleep and drinking coffee and I’m just searching online for ideas and up pops your YouTube. I watched your video. This is interesting! Amazon sale?  Just you know I hadn’t really thought about it before and then going on our way home in the car with my son I was telling you about the video I watched and he seemed to know so much more than me is like, “What you’re talking about drop shipping or affiliate marketing.” How do you know this? … So that kind of got me thinking I need to learn more. So I started watching your videos and thought that sounds really interesting. And then I obviously signed up with the Brand Builder in January because you did a special offer, didn’t you? … I just thought well, I thought of several factors: one is I knew I didn’t want to have a business partner wanted to start something small for myself, by myself, in my inbox not have to answer to anyone, especially not like my old business partner. It’s definitely not what it is, you know, we’ve been in lockdown and realizing that everyone’s buying online and thinking there’s an opportunity there. There has to be. But I had no idea what I wanted to sell. So I’m going to learn, and I’m going to do your course and figure it all out. So that’s what I did. And so did the first eight weeks of your course in about eight days and just watch, watch, watch. I loved it! And I signed in to Helium 10 and started doing all of the Helium 10 research. And I just couldn’t find anything that inspired me. I was like, dog baskets or lamps or, you know, and I just thought this isn’t me, because all everything you were saying is about building your brand. And I’ve done that before and I knew how to build a brand. 

And I think now I have to build a brand that I’m passionate about and something that I believe in. So that brings me to going back and talking about the fact I’ve been to the menopause. So obviously, I’m into my fitness. I take protein shakes, I also had felt that during that process of going through the menopause, or being in the menopause, it was a minefield, I didn’t know where to start in terms of nutritional supplements, and I felt quite depleted after my journey with Rush. I’d lost quite a bit of weight, and I looked at myself and I need to take some supplements, you need to give yourself a boost. But when you start researching online, it’s just loads of stuff. And I hate taking tablets, you know, there’s big capsules, and I’m really terrible with remembering to take them as well. So I get sent with best intentions, buy all these packets, bendable and fortune and Holland bar or wherever, and then I never take them. And I just thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if there was an all in one solution, where everything packed into one thing, and you can just drink it? So hence was born my ID because I remember you saying on one of your tutorials or something about starting instructional supplement brand, how you can white label it to UK manufacturer. So I started doing my research online. And also I was kind of a bit wary about buying things in China at that time, because I knew that shipping was a nightmare and pay themselves. So I thought to be UK that might make life easier. And so I approached a couple of manufacturers with an idea. They then pointed me in the direction of a nutritionist who said that they work with to formulate, spoke with her, told her about my idea. I’ve done a lot of research about what I thought would go into it and an entertainer will come to them. And she’s very well renowned in the industry for the whole of new care center for Tescos. And we just clicked and she really liked my concept. 

Then I realized I just felt like I was onto something.  I was like a dog with a bone. I just like this is it, this is what I’m going to do. So all the other healing research went to one side, I did obviously research collagen and protein shakes and medical supplements and did that research. But I kind of almost just put all of that Amazon stuff to one side, right, I’m just gonna focus on this next part. And so then I drew upon my experience before of knowing I needed to create a brand, need to have a good name, I needed to register a trademark, I needed to have the logo, the look and feel of everything correct. And so it’s been a bit of time working on that. Because I really felt that that was really important. And yeah, so that kind of, I don’t know, people have seen this as my brand. It’s BOMIMO. The name took a bit of time and originally I was going to be called Girl Power Nutrition.  Well my company is GirlPower Nutrition, but I was gonna do the Superwoman shake, and a Super Girl shake. And then I suddenly thought, well, that’s not really what I’m trying to sort of portray here. But I don’t want people thinking that it’s bodybuilding or fitness is different. 

So BOMIMO is short for body, mind, mojo.  I’d read this books then worry about women losing their mojo in the metaphors and just No, actually, that’s really true. And yeah, that the mission for the company, I believe in having a good mission statement, where your values are and to empower every woman to feel their best self for every hormonal stage. And I also listened to quite a few podcasts and, Daniel Priestley, key person of influence. He was talking about creating a niche and going with your niche becoming a key person in your niche rather than trying to appeal to everyone to try and focus on your own hormone. So I suppose that’s what I realized is do I want to do supplements for men as well as women? No. Do I want to do women all women? No. What do I want to target? I want to target women, hormonal women’s hormonal journey. So the first product is the menopause and perimenopause obviously, which is close to my heart and eventually, as I talked about earlier, I would like to branch out into products for teenagers PMS and TBT. And then products for women postnatally. Because quite often we get forgotten about once we’ve had the baby, it’s all about the baby. But whilst we’re pregnant, everyone looks after us. And then afterwards, you know, love women’s stuff and postnatal depression, or they, you know, can’t supplement their baby’s needs for breastfeeding, or they’re depleted from nutrients. So that’s something I feel strongly about. So I have this whole range of products that I now want to launch eventually. Take a bit of time to get there. So that that’s it.

Ben Donovan  40:37  
Yeah, that’s good. I think it’s a real smart play, you know, because your product is so, you know, they say that the riches are in the niches, which works if you say niches, like niches and not niches, but, you know, that been able to have that focus. And there’s lots of reasons for that, right, you know, you know, now exactly who your target market is, and you can speak their language, you know, you can communicate to them in a way that’s going to be compelling. And so I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. From the supplement side, is it a, like, custom blend of stuff that’s in it?

Samantha Williams  41:10  
Yeah, absolutely. So I initially did a load of research as to every ingredient that could possibly be optimal for perimenopause, menopause. And I think it’s about 50 ingredients. I went to my nutritionist, “Can we put this much in?” because we might need to cut that back slightly, because what I hadn’t realized is, the more ingredients you put into a supplement, the more expensive that becomes. When you see supplements are the sort of five or six ingredients that haven’t cost them a lot to produce. Whereas something with 30 ingredients does cost more. So it had to be a fight, there’s a fine line between making it efficacious, and it’s got to work, but also making it affordable to produce. So I worked with China to talk about what I wanted it to achieve. And that obviously, being protein powder based, because women in the menopause and post seem to need more protein for maintenance, maintaining muscle mass. Not just with your actual pricing, but in general. I wanted to throw some collagen in there, because I’ve done some Helium 10 research and realized that collagen fact that was. And then obviously, it had to have multivitamin blend, so that instead of having because I wanted it to be an all in one, all in one solution. And then alongside of that, then it was going to include or had to include herbs that are, seem to be beneficial for the menopause. So things like red clover and wild yam and reishi herb. Obviously, I wanted to look at things like black cohosh, and there’s various other with sage. But there’s, you know, you learn along the way, there’s legislation in terms of you know, that you’d have to have a herbal certification to put those types of herbs into a product. So it had to be something that worked. 

Then some of the other ingredients in terms of flaxseed and psyllium husk and green tea and cinnamon were to help with the weight management side of menopause where women tend to put 30 pounds. So there was, it was from different angles, but I wanted to put it as an all in one and it has to taste good, had to blend well. Because the idea being is that women will have it sort of for breakfast or as a mid morning snack and actually want to drink it. But there’s no point creating something in my opinion that tastes disgusting, even if it’s good, because no one’s gonna want to drink it. So there were lots of boxes that needed to be ticked and then and then it was an iterative process in terms of starting with the list. … Starting with the list and then cutting that list back to a list that was optimal. And then working with the flavor development has to get a flavoring, correct. Yeah, so you were just saying about it is a bespoke formula, it’s never been created, no one else has made it before. It would be brilliant to be able to paint in it. But unfortunately, you have to be fully transparent as to what’s in formulation on food supplements. Those can’t really but the way in which I’ve tried to protect my concept is just by registering the trademark and having the brand out there. So yeah, yeah, that and each one I’ll do is going to be bespoke mode, if not, it’s going to be formulated in the same process. I’ve already formulated the one for teenagers, although that’s going to take a bit longer to release. But with the same sort of let’s look at teenagers as a whole, let’s look at what they suffer from in terms of puberty, cognitive function, concentration, acne, PMS, see what we can throw in there that will help them with that. So that’s sort of the philosophy I’ve got in terms of tracing.

Ben Donovan  44:41  
Yeah, really good, really good. And you’ve been making some moves with this, right? In terms of your marketing plan, because it’s, we’re talking about it before, something we’ve been, you know, discussing that it’s not something that there’s loads of initial search volume for is not something you’re just going to place in front of people and they’re going to automatically buy it by droves. There’s an education around it, right? So that’s changing how you’re approaching this. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Samantha Williams  45:07  
Yeah, I think that that sort of really become quite obvious in the last month. I finally got the pouches through at the end of October. It took longer than I thought. They went on to preorder. I built a website, a Shopify website alongside of Amazon. And I had an initial amount of interest. But I think that what I’m learning is that women do need education on protein powders. And they, also, interestingly, I think a lot of women are maybe in slight denial that they’re in the pediment perimenopause and menopause. And that, I’m trying to sort of shift the emphasis to say, you can take the post 40s. And if you don’t think you’re in the perimenopause, because I’m pretty certain you are, you know, if you’re telling me you’re taking very well or you’re feeling anxious, so you’ve got the hot flash, that’s probably what you’re in. But if you don’t want to believe it yet, then that’s fine. 

So I think that post 40, there’s no harm in any woman having this shape, because it’s only going to give you all of the vitamins and minerals that you need. And, you know, all of the other elements are going to just boost your optimal health. So I think that message have to come across in a clever way to make women not be put off it or not go, “Well, I’m not going to take that yet. Maybe much later.” No, it’s about understanding that I actually told some friends about the teen girl shake, and they were like, Oh, I think I’m going to take the teen girl shake, because, …. So yeah, so my marketing, what’s challenging, obviously, is in terms of Amazon keyword research, and what keywords you put out there, because you put protein shake that book, the volume of that market is huge. And you’re competing against some of the big players. And similarly with collagen. So you know, but if you were just red clover, for example, search volume is very low. So obviously, the word menopause and perimenopause is quite important to be in there. But that’s still an evolving learning curve that I’m going on in terms of what’s the best way in which people are going to find you. 

And, you know, I’ve managed to get within a very short space of time from page seven to page one. So that’s good. I’m not at the top of page one. But you know, I’m okay with that. Because the thing is I’m on the first page, that’s not a bad thing. And getting reviews is also challenging, getting people to try it and like it. And then finally, on Google, Google ads, again, there’s a there’s I think, ruling, we can’t hurt sort of medical symptoms on Google, we have to tap into welcome. So obviously, it’d be fantastic. That wasn’t the case. Because then I could get people who probably go onto Google and search, I’ve had a hot flash, what do I do? You know? So that’s a bit of a challenge. And an SEO I am I’ve written a couple of blogs. And, you know, I realized that that’s going to be really crucial in terms of people searching. So there’s a lot to do. And I think I mentioned to you that I’m also signed up to do a course to become an executive menopause coach. A lot of noise recently about menopause and the press and legislation going through Parliament to enable women to have free HRT and also to ring fence women or protect women in the workplace. You may be going through the menopause. So I felt that if I could become more credible in that space and talk more knowledgeably about menopause, not just from my own experience, but also with an accreditation behind it, that that would benefit you in terms of going out there and putting things on social and it’s a several pronged attack. Really, you can’t just focus on one aspect, you have to try and look at it from different angles and constantly look at it.

Ben Donovan  48:51  
Yeah, no, it’d be a big brand asset as well, I think so it’s really, really exciting. And you’ve had a bit of press as well. How did you go about getting your product impressive bit into cover newspapers?

Samantha Williams  49:02  
Yeah! So when I started working with Shanna Raucous in the nutritional she recommended to me a PR company who specializes in helping to launch nutritional supplement brands. So I’ve been talking to them for several months and they’ve gotten to know me and we’ve really trusted and then I started engaging with their services. When I finally got the product, so unfortunately missed World Menopause Month, but they’ve been working on shortly the long leads and sending out pouches so sort of set aside 50 pouches to a set of journalists to try. And yeah, I was very lucky that the health editor for the Daily Express, there are loved it and she’s featured it and also yesterday in chat magazine. But hoping for January, once we’re over the Christmas rush, to get some more traction with some of the bigger health magazines. Daily Mail Online would be fantastic. Health and Well-Being, Women’s Health, and so on. So, fingers crossed, with that come through, we’re working on it. But I’ve made the decision to invest some of my money into that, because I felt like, unless people know about something like this, they’re never going to find it. So it, I felt like it was worth putting the money into that and setting aside some money for that. So who knows, hopefully, that will have paid off.

Ben Donovan  50:22  
I think it will, lack of incentive, I think, you know, maybe not the traditional route of an Amazon seller that finds high demand, low competition, you know, blah, blah, blah, but it’s a product that really solves a real clear problem for a group of people. And I think that is going to be a smashing success. And so just gonna, you know, take like, anything that’s a bit newer and take a bit of education, it will take a bit of time. But, you know, when it does sort of really take off, I think it’s going to be real successful. So we’re excited to see how it all develops. How, how can people find out more about it? What’s the web address, etc.

Samantha Williams  50:58  
So yeah, the website is That’s B-O-M-I-M-O nutrition dot com. And so the same type of social handles they were at, they mirror images in both Instagram, and Facebook.

Ben Donovan  51:18  
Thanks a lot! Any menopause or otherwise, women, you know, or any men that just want to support women around them, or take the shake themselves, come along and support and subscribe, and definitely get it get amongst it. Sam, you’re an absolute inspiration. I really appreciate you coming on the show. And just wish you the most success, really excited to see unfold, and hopefully, you know, just be able to just watch the journey as it unfolds.

Samantha Williams  51:43  
Thank you so much, Ben. Really appreciate it. And thanks for all your support as well couldn’t have done it without you on that early morning.

Ben Donovan  51:54  
Good stuff. Hopefully, we can maybe bring you back on next year and see how progress is going. 

Samantha Williams  51:58  
Yeah, absolutely.

Ben Donovan  52:00  
Thanks, Sam. I appreciate it. Well, what an episode that was, I don’t know about you. But I am greatly inspired every time I sit down with Sam, she is incredibly switched on. She is building something great with BOMIMO so excited to see where that goes. So if you are in the target market or want to give someone or just want to support her business, definitely go and check the website out and be a support to her business because honestly, I think it’s going to be something that gets massive over time, and it’s a great product solves a great problem. So I’m super excited to see how it goes. Thank you for joining me on the Brand Builder show. As ever. If you have been liking these episodes, please do take the time to leave a review. Let us know how you’re getting on with the podcast. Really helps us keep getting on high-quality guests. They’re going to help you build a brand that you own and a life that you love. I’ll see you in the next episode real soon.