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Startup stories: Nosh Detox

Galvanised by wanting to improve her son's poor health, Geeta Sidhu-Robb bootstrapped her way to creating a multi-million-pound international nutrition business that became a celebrity favourite.

Tell us about your business, what does it do?

Nosh Detox is a multi-award winning health empire and the UK’s first home detox and weight-loss delivery service with previous clients including Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Poppy Delevingne.

The products are freshly made and nutritionally supported by experts and delivered across Europe & the UK and some parts of the USA. Nosh Detox develops health solutions and delivers food and juice programmes that address a multitude of health and wellbeing issues, from treating problem skin, to weight issues, digestive problems to coping with stress and building the body’s natural defences to fight infections.

I am also a health and lifestyle coach offering individual and corporate performance coaching, as well as wellness coaching. We are based in Chelsea, but have a nationwide presence and are now looking to expand further with additional clinics in the capital.

What did you do before you started this business?

I started working as a lawyer directly out of university but transferred to corporate law having completed my Masters in law at the LSE aged 25. Honestly, I never thought I would run my own business, but my father always ran his own company so in hindsight it was probably in my DNA. 

What inspired you to start up? 

I was actually forced to give up my job in corporate law when I got divorced and ended up as the sole carer for my three young children, particularly as my son had a life-threatening illness which made it permanently difficult to be away from home as we ended up in and out of hospital for the best part of a year.

I had effectively worked in health and wellness for seven years by the point I established Nosh Detox, because I had been training to learn of alternative health methods to help him, just without the revenue to show for it! Whether it be different therapies or nutrition techniques, I wanted to be able to support my son outside of his time in hospital.

At the time, medics had rendered it impossible to cure him using these methods, but I was determined to prove them wrong. The doctors were great with my son, but this was something I knew in my gut was possible, and I was right to defy their hunch.

It was my experiences seeing my son’s health dramatically improve, and the self-gratification this gave me, that led to the startup. I was looking for something new, and it only seemed logical that I should put my years of practice into a viable source of income.

It really got started when my best friend, who had had two children in the space of a year, came to stay with me. She was complaining about the weight she couldn’t seem to shift so I set aside some tips and a short regime for her. Four weeks on she came back to me with fantastic results and said to me, "you know, people would pay a lot of money for this kind of thing!". There it was – the lightbulb. Cue Nosh Detox.

Financially it was very difficult as my ex-husband never supported us and giving up the salary of corporate law was truly terrifying. I started with any freelance work I could get and local consultations, which after a year evolved into Nosh Detox. We didn’t take holidays for years and I don’t think I went shopping for clothes for years – I just made do. We became very good at living on air.

How would you describe your business to your grandma? 

I would say Nosh Detox has really raised awareness of health overall which is a good thing, aside from any business-related rewards. I think that a large part of it is that we provide, year in and year out, a really good product that works incredibly well and fast. So you can rely on us. We are also discreet and efficient so I think that helps. 

Where do you get advice, support or help? 

I have definitely benefited from mentoring/coaching. The one time I didn’t for about six months my business really suffered. I decide my goal for the year, work out who’s done it before, and connect with them to pick their brains. I always have a dedicated business coach who changes depending on which part of the business I am working on. I think there is always a network of successful entrepreneurs to tap into. I pride myself on being able to share my knowledge with others as well. Along the way, I also took classes in business at Cranfield University and marketing in the US and learnt everything I needed.

Personally, I am always looking to grow my skills. For instance, last year I completed a six-month Gut Healing course at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?

I didn’t have any business acumen, nor did we have any funding. I had an old offer of an overdraft with HSBC and went in to see my bank manager and begged him to let me have it. He agreed eventually and I used it to the penny to help set up Nosh. We were good at sales from the beginning as a result of this – there was literally no choice at all. But working with no capital funding is a really hard way to build a business. Bootstrapping makes you grow more slowly than you otherwise would. However, it also means you build foundations that are strong for later.

At first, we couldn’t afford any form of marketing, so it was literally a case of reaching out to bloggers and influencers on an informal basis and offering them three-day food/juice trials. This helped me to spread the word and Gwyneth Paltrow recommended Nosh when she was asked for her best detox in their early years.

A lot of what we do is word of mouth, and that’s something I’m very proud of as it clearly means we are doing something right!

Later on, when we wanted our own clinic premises, we did crowdfunding within our client base to raise £150,000, which was successful.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Personally, this would most definitely be curing my son of his chronic eczema and asthma. He is the reason why this all began and will always be a reminder of the wonderful things we achieve at Nosh Detox.

Business-wise, since I started the UK’s first detox company in 2008 I’ve continued to help my clients get stronger, fitter and ultimately more powerful by showing up as their best ever version.

It is my deeply held belief that as we become more in control of our physical health, we develop more control of our mental health and that alignment helps us step into our power and success. I created and launched in the UK the first detox programmes [2008], juice fasts [2008], the first raw unpasteurised juices in any UK supermarket [2012], and the first IV Drip Clinic [2013].

Nosh Detox also launched many other firsts as products, including dairy and gluten-free food programmes in 2008, sugar-free food programmes in 2012 and VeganKeto food programme in May 2018.

How do you differentiate your business from others?

Well, the market has certainly become very crowded along the way, but we have a good PR team to raise awareness and I do a lot of public speaking too. We have also always focused on building our database from 2010 so that is honestly our biggest asset. We have never, and will never pay for celebrity clients, but they regularly walk in the door because they get referred by other celebrities.

Our main USP is that we were the first to do what we do. I don’t think you can be more unique than that. And we have continued to innovate in the health field each and every year.

What’s it like to be your own boss? 

The greatest reward of being my own boss has been the ability to follow my gut belief in how to make people feel better and making my own business decisions. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help my clients succeed in some amazing transformations and I love what I do. Making my own goals and challenging myself to succeed is one of my greatest fulfilments to being my own boss.

Where do you see your business in five years' time? 

I am a very ambitious person and I have so much I want to do. I have long been fascinated by thought leadership in the wellness arena, so I foresee a lot more coaching in the business in the next five years and growth in this space. I would say we are still scaling and in this climate, I think providing services is going to be a large part of our growth. We have started with online courses and coaching offerings, but we intend to hone and expand those in 2019 alongside two new clinic locations.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Nothing ventured is nothing gained. Take calculated risks. Maximise your chances of success from the outset and throughout. Spend time and effort learning from others and analyse business plans before you start building your own.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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