“I Wouldn’t Allow Our Business to Become Dependent on One Channel" feat. Damian Soong, Co-Founder and CEO of Form Nutrition

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Damian Soong, co-founder and CEO of Form Nutrition joins us to talk about Form and building a B-Corp brand that serves a wide audience.

The New DIY

  • DIY used to have a connotation of poor quality or poor craftsmanship but today, it’s more indicative of participation.
  • Online marketplaces are booming with consumers and creators having more meaningful connections with items that could otherwise be more easily purchased.
  • Partnering with Gladly, we’ve created a new report: The New DIY: Creators, Crafts and Commerce.

What is Form Nutrition and who is Damian Soong?

  • Form is a plant-based B corporation, built around the belief that you can be the best version of yourself while being mindful of others. They are the first UK protein brand to achieve B-Corp status.
  • Damian studied engineering and worked six years as an investment banker and analyst before getting his MBA, getting involved in startups, and running a contract manufacturing company. Damian was athletic while growing up so he was always interested in nutrition and eating well. This combined with his interest in the plant-based movement, Form Nutrition was born.
  • “... the important thing about Form as a brand is that we recognized early on that nutrition and wellness, by definition, [is] about the self. So we just thought, let’s turn that on its head and make it about others.” - Damian Soong

Form Nutrition’s Focus

  • Form created a protein that wasn’t only plant-based, but was branded around the idea that protein is more than just a subculture of performance gains; it’s not just a protein shake after the gym. It’s how you nourish your whole self.
  • “I think when you start to broaden the definition of nutrition to be more than just what you’re eating, but rather how you’re nourishing your whole self, it gives a brand a license to talk about a lot of other things like mindfulness, nutrition, education.” - Damian Soong
  • Form creates content to fit with their brand and their brand’s message of having a performance mindset in all areas of your life.
  • inForm is their email newsletter that caters towards those that perform not only in the gym, but in work, raising a family, etc. These newsletters empower individuals in being ethical, taking care of the planet, and doing everything to the best of their ability.
  • Form focused on building a community with their brand - in their articles promoting healthy, performance lifestyles and in their customer service habits.
  • Form started as a pure DTC brand. They were only eCommerce starting out but quickly had retailers wanting to stock them - starting with Planet Organic, one of the best retailers in London.
  • They wanted to keep control over how their product is priced and displayed, so they’ve chosen their retailers carefully: “[We chose] places that fit with our brand where we can add value to them, and they can add value to us.” - Damian Soong

Form Nutrition as a B-Corp

  • Damian describes B-Corps as businesses that use business as a force for good, focusing on people and the planet.
  • To become a B-Corp, the business has to go through an audit that inspects all aspects of your business - from supply chain impact to how you treat employees to what you do with your waste. B-Corps are re-audited every 2-3 years.
  • Everything from documents and employment contracts to employee handbooks have to address their goal in protecting people and the planet as a requirement for B-Corp status.

More on Form Nutrition’s Product and Plans

  • Form went with stand up pouches versus plastic tubs because they wanted sustainability and they wanted to create something different than their competition - again, focusing less on the “gym bro” customer and more towards a lifestyle consumer.
  • During COVID, Form has focused on their online presence in the US. Form is engaging in marketplaces like Amazon UK and Amazon US, but Damain would prefer that they don’t become dependent on marketplaces.
  • Form has subscription plans that are popular in the US. Having a background in engineering, Damian is invested heavily into data.
  • As commerce is now very omnichannel, Damian doesn’t want Form to have too much of a concentration in one customer or one segment.
  • “I’m in for the journey to create something lasting as a brand and as a sustainable, profitable business.” - Damian Soong on business sustainability versus business acquisition.
  • On raising capital: “...an interesting point is raising capital and how you do that and remembering that resourcefulness is just as important as capital. And sometimes constraints around capital really create creativity. We didn’t start with a big sum of money and I think that was a really, really good thing for us.” - Damian Soong
  • On competitive markets: “Sometimes crowded spaces are very easy to stand out in because they’re full of people doing the same thing. Sometimes a crowded space isn’t necessarily a scary place to enter. It can be an exciting place to enter if you’re able to stand out. That’s what I like to think that we managed to do with Form.” - Damian Soong

Links

If you have any comments or questions about this episode, you can reach out to us at hello@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels. We love hearing from our listeners!

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