VEND IT LIKE MORGAN
Scott Morgan, expro
coach and MD of
about making the
start-up to a
sustainable high-growth company
RedHanded: Tell us about the idea for the business?
Scott Morgan: It all started when I was playing rugby. After matches or training we’d go home, and just play Call of Duty. At 30 years of age, I thought I should be doing something more constructive so I built a website selling sports nutrition products. I came up with a solution where people could buy them in vending machines at gyms and training grounds too.
RH: How has your experience as a professional rugby player helped?
SM: I wasn’t the most gifted player but I got where I did through adaptability, hard work and a dedication to be as fit and as good as I could. If you apply that mindset to business - work harder, be dedicated and make sacrifices - you’ll get there.
RH: So where has the business come from and where is it now?
SM: My dad and I started out of the back of an estate car with four vending machines, running all over the country while still playing rugby to see if the concept would work. Then quickly got up to twenty machines but still working out of my garage at home. The first year turned over about £50k but four years on we’ve now got hundreds of vending machines turning over £3.5 million. It’s an incredible story to be honest and a monument to my dad, who has since passed away.
RH: What type of challenges have you had to overcome?
SM: Growing so fast has presented problems such as cash burn and we’ve had to think of new ways to maintain cash flow. We’ve had to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone. There’s always a solution to a problem even if it may not be desirable and you’ve got to be willing to learn - especially from mistakes.
RH: How did you go about building a team?
SM: We started very small and grew steadily to the 18 people we have now. As you go forward you reassess as the shape of the business and its requirements change and the type of people we need changes. That’s the nature of the beast. I’m very proud of where we’ve got to with the teams we’ve had. But to go again I need to look at what’s needed to get us to the next stage.
RH: How have you gone about financing it? Has Finance Wales always been involved?
SM: No, at the very start I put my own funding in to it. Then I got a start-up loan from Finance Wales plus investment through xénos, the Wales Business Angel Network. The business angel investment was as much about tapping into his knowledge and experience. Whilst I knew the concept and what I wanted to achieve I had no idea how to manage growth in the business. Nigel was able to help me with that. Having worked with Barry Davies as a player and coach, he invested in the business and took a role too. Then Finance Wales came in again 18 months ago and we’re kicking on again.
RH: What has been Finance Wales’ input?
SM: The financial backing and support has been crucial. The ability to take on bigger projects – providing there’s a business case, means the sky’s the limit essentially. It also allows us to really manage the business and keep focussed on what we’re trying to achieve and keep on track. They are always on hand for advice and assistance when we need it and support us in everything we’re doing.
RH: What are Nutrivend’s next steps?
SM: Keep growing and exploit all opportunities. Put in place policies, procedures and internal structures that will allow us to kick-on in a stable and controlled way. When you get to a critical mass you need to be able to exploit the growth of the market – and not just tread water. We want to be aggressive and at the forefront of everything that’s going on.
RH: If you were talking to a younger self, what advice would you give?
SM: Everyone makes mistakes – just don’t make the same mistake twice. And always employ people who can do their job better than you can do it!
“Nutrivend is a great example of a company that has gone from a microloan through to a bigger follow-on equity investment. They have a great business plan and are now taking advantage of funding available from us to really grow their company. We wish them the very best. We pride ourselves on being a flexible funder and offer investments from £1,000 to £3 million. We also work with our existing portfolio to find opportunities to help them develop through additional funding and support.”
Sam Macalister-Smith, Portfolio Executive, Finance Wales