London-based Boris Hodakel is no newbie to the world of entrepreneurship after a background in launching and managing online startup companies.
But it was in 2019 that he decided to take on a project focusing on his own personal passion.
“Something that has always been important to me, is health. I have always led a healthy lifestyle and paid close attention to nutrition. I have a chronic skin condition which is affected by what I put in my body so I always try to eat clean, as well as being gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol free.
“Supplements have always helped me but when I began looking in more detail at the contents of the supplements I was taking, I realised they are not always what they claim to be, but that’s very difficult for your everyday consumer to know.
“You see listed on a supplement ‘iron’ but you don’t realise there are 20 different chemical compounds of iron and they are not all equal to one another.
“I also came to realise that the mark-up that comes with listing in retail outlets can be huge, with the retailers taking between 40% and 60% of the sale for themselves.
“This means the brands have to either push up prices or reduce quality and this leads to a market of low-quality or extremely expensive products.
“By selling direct to consumers, online only, we can redistribute that value that a retailer would have taken, by investing in higher quality ingredients and providing lower prices for the consumer.”
This led him to the concept of ‘Feel’, a D2C online supplement company selling high quality, bioavailable, transparent, locally produced, filler-free supplements at affordable prices.
The subscription-based business was launched in June 2019, first with its all-rounder multivitamin, which is still the hero product today, which is marketed as providing 32 of the best ingredients in their highest bio-availability and absorption rates. Enhanced by BioPerine. 13 vitamins, 10 minerals, seven phytonutrients, Alpha Lipoic Acid and L-Glutamine
Other products in the range and some of the ingredients within them include: Beauty probiotic+, with probiotic strains, hyalauronic acid, bamboo extract, alfalfa, aloe vera, bilberry, and pine bark extract; Algae Omega-3 with 300mg of DHA and 150mg of EPA per serving; Cognition, including choline, rhodiola, panax ginseng, B-vits, rosemary and sage; Immunity; with Lactobacillus Acidophilus, beta glucans, acerola cherry, allicin from garlic, reishi mushroom and more; Digestion, featuring science-backed digestive enzymes and herbs; Nootropics, with ingredients such as L-Theanine, Bacopa Monnieri, and Gotu Kola; and Pregnancy, offering all the essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy mum and baby during conception, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy.
The entrepreneur claims ‘Feel’ is one of the only companies in the UK to be UKAS lab tested.
“Getting your products tested costs £2,500 each time and so many companies don’t do it.
“We also ensure our manufacturers get their ingredients tested to ensure the ingredient that ends up in our capsule has the same dose of active ingredient that we expect.”
The company now has 35,000 active subscribers in the UK with hopes to expand across Europe and the Middle East later this year.
The company also puts a lot of importance on providing its subscribers with education around supplements, helping them to know what ingredients to look for.
Hodakel says one of the key difficulties in setting up this business has been finding manufacturers willing and able to produce his supplements.
He says now that the brand is looking to produce a gummy supplement, that challenge has become even greater
“We have been in the process of bringing a kids’ gummy to the market for about nine months. We just can’t find a manufacturer to produce it without the usual additives, while keeping the high bio-avalability and shelf stability.”
The businessman admits the timing of the pandemic certainly did assist in normalising the purchase of supplements online but he says the team has been mindful not to jump on the pandemic as a marketing tool.
“We have an Immunity SKU but we certainly haven’t pushed it over the last year as I just don’t think that would be right.
“Likewise, we have an algae omega-3 SKU made with algae which is sustainably produced in a contained environment, meaning it has no impact on the sea. This is definitely an issue which is front of mind for many consumers following the popularity of the Netflix film Seaspiracy, but again, it’s not something we’re going to start pushing just because we can see that ‘trend’.
“We don’t want to pull in consumers temporarily simply because of trends, instead we hope to build the brand by offering the highest quality, trustworthy supplements on the market.”