Daithi O’Connor, managing director, and Liam Salmon, operations director, set up Revive Active Products in 2011, manufacturing and wholesaling health food supplements. The Galway-based business employs 15 people and retails in pharmacies and health stores in Ireland, the UK and Australia, as well as making online sales around the world.
How would I describe our business? We create health food supplements scientifically designed to deliver real benefits to the consumer. With Revive Active Health supplement, that’s 26 active ingredients delivered in one convenient sachet. Our Joint Complex is now the number-one selling supplement in one of Ireland’s largest pharmacy chain.Our biggest achievement to date is Revive Active becoming a brand name in Ireland. We couldn’t have done that without it being a premium product. You can have all the great marketing, fancy packaging and fantastic customer service you like but at the end of the day if the product isn’t good you won’t succeed. We’re proud that 70% of our customers are repeat customers.
“You can have all the great marketing, fancy packaging and fantastic customer service you like but at the end of the day if the product isn’t good you won’t succeed.”
Weak moments for us came when trying to raise finance in the middle of a recession. I was always confident of success but along the way so many investors decided to take advantage of the situation. They knew the product had potential but typically wanted too much equity in return. Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business, and we needed investment to enable us grow but not at any price.
“It felt like Dragon’s Den for a while, except that it was me always saying, ‘sorry, I’m out’. In the end, I did a fair deal for 10% of the business.”
I cope with setbacks by taking a deep breath and getting on with it. I don’t know how else to put it. My attitude is always that if we can’t get in the front door, we’ll go round the back. I remember once having terrible trouble with a gatekeeper at a particular retail chain. I couldn’t get an answer from them but couldn’t get passed them either. I was awake one night thinking about it when I suddenly thought, ‘What am I doing here? I’ll just ring the owner.’ Within a day, it was all sorted.In business, you can’t survive without taking risks but I’d like to think ours are calculated. If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons properly, you’ll still make mistakes, but
In business, you can’t survive without taking risks but I’d like to think ours are calculated. If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons properly, you’ll still make mistakes, but you’ll, at least, you have minimised the risk.
Who do I admire in business? John Magnier. His Coolmore operation is recognised as the leading bloodstock business in the world, yet he goes about his business in an entirely low-key way. He’s an astute businessman and I admire what he has achieved, and how he has done it, enormously.
I live near Galway Golf Club, so I’ll play a few holes in the evening, walk the dog along the prom and share a nice Bordeaux with my wife. I always make time for the kids and attend as many of their matches as possible, or they often join me for a few holes in the evening. I enjoy movies, books and theatre.
If I were starting today, I’d get the website development right. Around 20% of our sales are online, so it’s imperative to us. If I were starting again, I’d make a list of all the things I need the website to do and agree on it – in writing – with a top class web designer who understands our product first. We have worked with some developers at this stage and at times it has been incredibly frustrating trying to get the precise functionality we need, it’s like they don’t understand English.
“Be patient. With any new business, it won’t happen as quickly as you would like it to. Follow the vision and the money will end up following you.”
Your business must be different if you are to gain a reputation. It could be as simple as offering a superior customer service. For instance, if you have dry cleaners, maybe yours could be the one that opens latest, or will drop clothes back to the client. Anything that makes you stand out from the herd will help you succeed.