A budding businesswoman is getting her foot through the door in the health supplement world – while backing the UK’s dairy farmers - with her Better On British Whey brand.
BSc (Hons) Agri-Food Marketing and Business student, Zoe Legg launched her product at the recent on-campus Christmas Fair at Harper Adams, having worked on the business proposition for around two years.
She said the feedback from the fair was really positive, adding that: “It was a really full circle experience as my tutor Zoe in foundation year was the one who helped me launch the project, so to then launch it as a business at Harper was a very special moment,” she added.
Zoe says she is hoping to change people’s perceptions that whey protein is only for the gym-goers among us and adds: “I want to encourage people to turn to whey as a sustainable protein source that, by choosing Better On, can be guaranteed as originating from the UK. This product is unflavoured, so people can use it in a variety of meal options, including pancakes, porridge, hummus and pasta.
“The mission behind Better On is to promote mental and physical health in a sustainable way, all the while, supporting the British dairy and cheese industries as well as small British businesses. I want to use the brand to educate people on the importance of being active and looking after your mental health, having struggled with mental health myself.”
Zoe also said: “The main thing I want to achieve from this is to learn how to successfully grow a business. I can apply what I’m learning about business and marketing in my degree to the business to support my learning.
“In my eyes, launching it while studying is a fantastic opportunity to apply my Agri-Food Marketing and Business degree to the business - learning by doing.”
Zoe said the project has required a great deal of resilience and answering many previously unanswered questions.
“Although everyone I mentioned the idea to thought it was a brilliant one, the question of why no one had done it before was the hardest to answer, and then overcome.
“It was basically an economies of scale and cost issue. You need loads of liquid whey to make whey powder, therefore the greater amount produced and manufactured in Europe is cheaper and easier to obtain, or they just mix British and European together.”
“Harper put me in contact with the Agri-Project at the FA centre and Moyden’s Cheese, a local cheese manufacturer to Harper. We ran trials using Moyden’s liquid whey to see if we could manufacture the whey ourselves. I was so excited doing the trials, however because of covid I couldn’t go and see the trials done in person.”
After many trials, tribulations and extensive networking, Zoe finally had the breakthrough she was after.
“The breakthrough was when a man called Adam Hutchins commented on a post I’d put on Food Hub – which is a Facebook group for food businesses.
“He said he’s also looked at solving the lack of a British Whey powder issue but hadn’t been able to. He suggested I look at sourcing British whey already in the powdered form. So, more phone calls and chasing later, I finally found a company who did have a small amount I could purchase. I could have leapt in the air when they told me they did. But it then came to the scary part of actually investing in the whey.
“This was a massive step as this was the final nail in the coffin to this no longer being an idea, but actually a business venture.”
Like many business owners, Zoe has experienced the ups and downs that come with taking such a leap, but she has persevered and seen very promising results – with big thanks to Harper.
Zoe adds: “It wouldn’t have happened without Harper. It was purely a side conversation with one of my lecturers, Zoe Harrison, about how I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a British whey powder and that I’d love to start a business that started it all. The way I see it is that starting a business while studying is the best time to do it.
“Having the support of my mum has been amazing, plus the support of my lecturers and access to resources while studying at Harper. Working with my design company, Buddy Creative, was also brilliant. This part of the project was so much fun and I’m so happy with how the brand imaging and pouch design has turned out.”
Zoe’s advice for her fellow students thinking of launching a business begins by drawing on the expert advice on hand at Harper: “Talk to your tutors, they are always willing to help. Network on social media, especially LinkedIn, and don’t be afraid to admit you’re new to the whole entrepreneurship thing – more people you talk to want to help you get into their industry than you might think.”
But most importantly, Zoe advocates being passionate about your project, whatever it may be.
“You will be putting a lot of time and effort into the venture, so it needs to be something you absolutely love.
“Just because one person says it’s a bad idea, doesn’t make it one!
“Do your research, analyse your market and if you truly believe it’ a viable business, then go for it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take time and there will be setbacks, but nothing worth doing in life is easy.”
Having done a small-scale trial batch of the pouches, Zoe hopes to expand the business and launch more products in the future.
“Once I’ve ensured it is economically viable, I want to expand the level of production and grow the business, eventually launching more products. The absolute long-term dream is to develop Better On into ‘On-the-go’ food products.”
“I’m also hoping to look into using natural, British flavourings like apple, strawberry or blackcurrant. They would need to be natural and be sourced from the UK, so I’m aware this may be difficult, but everyone said Better On was going to be hard - so I’m up for the challenge.”