Name: Chris Astill-Smith
Campus: Les Roches Bluche, BBA in International Hotel Management, 2014
Current job: Nutristrength Founder
As soon as Chris graduated from Les Roches Bluche in 2014, he knew what he wanted to do: put his entrepreneurship training into action. Together with his brother, Chris launched Nutristrength, a lifestyle nutrition brand that is growing fast.
Entrepreneurial life has been tough but rewarding:
“I work long hours, my brain never switches off, and I have a hard time sleeping at night on particular occasions — but I absolutely love it and believe [opening a business] was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Chris and his brother first had the idea to create a sports nutrition brand in 2014. However, a year into the adventure, Chris felt like something wasn’t right. That intuition and consumer insight data led to a complete rebranding and the birth of Nutristrength in 2016. By analyzing the market and consumer demand, Chris found the niche he was looking for in a category he calls “lifestyle nutrition.”
“We didn’t want to be just another sports nutrition brand,” Chris explains. “We wanted to develop something new, better and more authentic than any other brand out there.” For Chris and his brother, Adam, that process involves using only high quality, natural ingredients to manufacture their own products, such as artificial-additive-free protein powders, on-site in the UK.
As co-founder of his own company, Chris juggles many different roles. From taking on responsibilities in marketing and events to new product development and account management, his Les Roches hospitality background has proven useful in a number of ways. Strong customer service and people skills have also been key to his brand’s success.
The hard work has paid off: In April 2016, Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2016 named Nutristrength winner of the Best New Health & Nutrition Product award — the winning product was the company’s Goat & Sheep Whey Protein. Just a few weeks later, Nutristrength received another award for Best Stand at Be:Fit London.
At the same time, Chris has found plenty of support from the Les Roches community. Fellow alumni regularly come to see his company’s events, and a former Les Roches classmate also produced the video for Nutristrength’s Brand Story, which is featured on the company website.
As for the future, Chris is looking forward to expanding and building on Nutristrength’s success. To strengthen the brand’s focus on food and cooking, the company already has an in-house chef and frequently publishes recipe ideas. Meanwhile, Nutristrength is also partnering with major grocery retailers — in the UK, the company’s products will be stocked at Whole Foods starting in August 2016, and discussions with other retailers are on the horizon.
According to Chris, it takes a certain kind of person to open a business:
“You have to be passionate about what you’re doing in every way possible. Firstly, because if you don’t show passion, you will never sell your product — customers and buyers can sense whether you truly believe in your product. Secondly, if you’re not passionate, you will not enjoy what you do.”
Hard work — but well worth it.