Our first anniversary fell in September and we took the opportunity at the weekend to gather all involved with Symprove for a day of review and an evening of celebration at Symprove HQ.
You might not know this, but we didn’t intend to introduce our probiotic onto the UK market until 2011; whilst the technology was all in place and the product fully developed our plan was to wait for the results of the independent evaluations taking place at King’s College Hospital. Our thinking was that in a busy and sometimes confused market, another probiotic product from a small company would struggle to be noticed unless it had some strong independent data behind it. Based on our own research with the product we saw very early on that Symprove is a brand which speaks for itself rather than one dependent upon heavy marketing for success; although of course we do want to shout from the rooftops about it!
Our hand was forced though when people who had been using Symprove during development began requesting more supply as well as telling friends and family about our unique product. We started taking telephone orders and soon realised that we needed a mechanism to meet the growing demand whether this was part of our plan or not!
For a start-up family business this was a tall order. The web strategy we settled on was driven by trying to do the best we possibly could for our customers and our brand with the money we had available to us. Ever conscious that this was from family, friends and colleagues who had invested their own hard-earned cash in the business, and of course from our founders Barry and Ann Smith who have been supporting Symprove for over 20 years.
From the day we took the decision to ‘soft’ launch Symprove to the day we could take orders online and dispatch product for next day delivery was two months; it would have been quicker but we wanted to develop a high quality brand worthy of our probiotic and ensure this ran throughout our packaging, website, literature and so on. We took our first orders online in August 2009, some days there would be one or two orders, sometimes we would have a patch of two days with no orders at all, but this soon picked up and over the past twelve months things have grown at a pace where even the CityLink drivers collecting our orders each day comment on our growth.
Where we are now is unrecognisable to a year ago, we’re still the small team we were, but now we’re looking at options for growing the business and possible partnerships so that we can launch Symprove on National scale and make our product available to as many people as possible. Just to give you a feel for the relative scale of this, several years ago when I worked for a large pharmaceutical company we would spend more on sticky pads and pens to give away in one month than Symprove Ltd. has available for marketing in an entire year. We regularly hear from customers who will say things like, ‘Symprove is the first thing I’ve found that actually makes a difference to me’, every time we do it’s an endorsement of the thought and effort that has been put in to bring Symprove to market.
Sometimes during our first year it has felt like we’re David fighting Goliath, but every day has been fun and rewarding, and never more so than when we take a call or receive a letter or email from someone who we have made a really positive difference to.
Twelve months from now, when we celebrate our second anniversary many aspects of Symprove will look very different again, who knows we might even be on the shelves in your local healthfood store? But one thing will remain constant and that is the priority we attach to listening to and looking after our customers as well as we possibly can, as well as our belief that a really good probiotic has to combine the best of science and nature.