If you harbour dreams of setting up a business, then this business series is for you. Over the next few weeks we’ll be chatting to entrepreneurs, business owners and all round inspirations, who saw a gap in the wellness market and decided to go for it.
This week, we speak to Niall Horgan from Gym + Coffee about building a community, expanding in the US and aiming high.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned since launching your own business?
There have been so many lessons we have learned over the last year. Starting the business has forced us to tackle tasks that took us far outside our experience and comfort zone. Everyday we cover so many topics like accounting, marketing, logistics, product design and customer experience. We have certainly taken the approach of just saying ‘yes’ to opportunities and seeing where they take us. But a big lesson in recent times as the business grows is when to say ‘no’. It’s becoming clear that we can’t take the business in every direction that presents itself. There must be a trade off and we have to focus on our priorities.
Have you made any mistakes since starting?
Another big lesson we learned is the importance of timing and planning. Being in early startup mode, we are constantly reacting and changing to the most pressing needs of the business. However, through a number of instances, it’s obvious that forward planning is everything. Particularly in terms of product design and the supply chain.
For example, rushing both of these stages at one point last year meant that we paid over the top per item at source to get to market. Although sales were extremely positive subsequently, our margins had been hit and there was no recovering that.
If you could go back and do something differently would you?
Honestly, no. We have been very lucky and the first year in business was more than we could have hoped for.
What was the biggest thing to surprise you while setting up a business?
The big surprise really was how emotionally attached you are to everything. In an odd way, everything is a high and everything is a low. We feel the pulse of the business much more than anything we have worked on before.
I guess maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise but it is incredible how helpful other people are and how willing people are to go out of their way for you. We have really enjoyed meeting and collaborating with loads of inspiring people in the health and wellness space and the support we have received over the last 12 months has been amazing.
Did you learn anything about yourself?
Yes, as mentioned above, we are working in so many different areas every day. Sometimes it’s great to see how adaptable we are, or at least have to be. It does take a great deal of self-discipline though to run a start up. Having to account for your own personal time and also being the driving force behind the business.
How do you manage to maintain any level of work life balance? Is it hard to switch off?
I guess it is hard for us to strike that balance in a healthy way but when it’s your own business it doesn’t feel too much like work. We love what we’re doing so you can easily find yourself working at weekends. The struggle at times can be that you’re never offline because we are running the business from our phones. It can be hard to balance that.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I remember one of my football coaches told me that you get out, what you put in. I found that really motivating and I’ve generally found this to be true. If you work hard and passionately at something then the results usually come out the other side.
What piece of advice would you pass on now to something else who’s noticed a gap in the market?
Just say yes to everything and start. There will always be reasons not to do something but just completely ignore them! It’s much easier to keep the ball rolling than to get the ball rolling.
Have you always believed in Gym+Coffee or did you have moments of thinking you were way off the mark?
Can I say yes to both! Obviously there are moments when you question everything, we’ve all sacrificed different things to work full-time on Gym+Coffee. Whether than be careers, incomes or free-time so if you think too much about it then that decision can seem crazy.
However we are incredibly passionate about the brand and the community we are building. It feels right and we’re really enjoying it so we’re definitely happy we made the choice to do it!
We officially launched in the US at the end of November. So much work went into this before even thinking of launching a marketing campaign. We were already shipping to the US from Ireland but it was an extra shipping cost for customers.
Anyone who has bought some G+C gear knows that customer service and the delivery experience are vitally important to us. We wanted the US experience to be no different so we engaged in a comprehensive process to evaluate a top tier partner to help us deliver on that customer promise.
We also reviewed our logistics set up and implemented a new process ensuring delivery from manufacturing to warehouse is as streamlined as possible. We know, this stuff isn’t exactly the fancy side of things, but the more our orders grow the more we are appreciating the importance of this part of the business.
What sort of ambitions do you have for the brand?
We spent time in Singapore last November and have managed to secure a partnership with a leading manufacturer who work alongside some of the top brands including Lululemon, Adidas and Puma. For a company as prestigious as them to see potential in a new brand like ourselves has been so encouraging. So by the time summer comes around, we are hoping to have a range of vests, tshirts and half zip running tops.
We have huge ambitions for the company and we see no reason why an Irish company can’t be a major player in this space. A focus for us in achieving these ambitions is putting a very strong team in place and that will continue over the next 3-6 months.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Still in business!
Check out the full range at gympluscoffee.com