Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How we built it: George Greenhill, Founder of Protein Package

Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand.

Hey, I’m George Greenhill, the founder of Protein Package. If you’re looking to improve your diet, healthy snacks and nutritional supplements are the perfect way to make some quick positive changes.

Forget huge protein powder tubs of the same flavour you ordered online or those super-expensive individual protein bars from the supermarket. Protein Package allows you to pick and mix the best health products at great prices from around the world and get them shipped to your door the next day. 

What inspired you to set up your company?

When I was 17, I started to visit the gym regularly to stay fit and healthy where I soon picked up the appetite for healthy protein snacks to aid my training regime.  

However, I started to face a frustrating problem. Healthy snacks came as expensive individual products or in large boxes that left me stuck with the same flavour for weeks on end. One day during a maths lesson, the idea came… Protein Package. 

Using £300 of birthday money, I invested it all in our first batch of products, after no time at all, we had our first sale and customers loved our unique experience of mixing and matching different brands and ranges. 

What was your biggest challenge in year one?

The biggest challenge I faced in the first year or so was developing the website to offer a simple user interface whilst still allowing visitors to dive deep into the nutritional information and data inside.

Websites don’t come cheap, with only £300 to my name, the quotes I was getting came in at between £8,000-£15,000 for the functionality I required including a specialist pick and mix page.

With no other viable option, I decided to teach myself to code in the evenings after school and within four months, I finally had a functioning online store that was ready to accept users. 

The website was built on Shopify’s ecommerce platform which turned out to be a great decision looking back five years on due to the big strides they’ve made to become the industry leader. Shopify possesses many brilliant application bolt-ons for parts of the website that were too complex for me to solve and only carried a small monthly fee to help with cash flow. 

What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?

We moved into our new warehousing facility in early 2021 that’s enabled us to decrease delivery times for customers, improve stock level accuracy and add more great people to our expanding team. The main limitation we had from home was (as you’d guess) space.

When the move finally took place, we ordered ten pallets of NOCCO Energy Drinks. At the time, this was a big gamble, it cleared out our cash flow for that month but we planned the announcement by teasing it on social media, had emails ready to send to our subscriber list and had pay-per-click ads scheduled.

Luckily, the investment paid off – we sold out in exactly 74 minutes. This instilled a new belief in me that if your product and price are the best paired with well thought through marketing plan, people will naturally come.

What has been the biggest mistake you made?

I’d say there are two big mistakes I’ve made, one personal mistake and one business error. 

With an ecommerce store, it’s easy to become absorbed in the digital world, making website updates and online marketing. For the first two years, I’d completely neglected building personal relationships with suppliers and networking with brands in the industry. I still had a standard social life outside of work but once I was in work mode, it was just me and my computer. I now place the utmost importance on constructing mutually beneficial, long-lasting bonds with business people, especially those in the same sector.

The biggest business mistake I made was on the website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). When I first started aged 17, I did some basic research on how SEO works and the takeaway I got was to spam keywords into your product descriptions to rank which is far from the truth and not what you should be doing. Last year we had to overhaul our whole SEO structure which was extremely time-consuming to remove the duplicated content we’d added that Google’s ranking system wasn’t appreciating. Fortunately, our search rankings have now rallied and we regularly appear in the top three results for most health and fitness keyword searches.

Tell us about your plans for the future.

Protein Package has some exciting things planned for the near future. 

We’ve just launched our new ‘Behind The Brand’ series that we’ll be working directly with the brands we stock to discover the backgrounds of these companies, meet the people working hard to make them a success and offer these new start-ups some great exposure opportunities to our audience and blog.  

On the business front, we hope to further grow the number of products we stock to offer the best range of options in the world, maintain our value for money by purchasing in greater quantities we can store at our new warehouse and become exclusive stockists for new brands looking to internationalise. 

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