28 May 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
A graduate from Imperial College before, Shivraj Bassi spent a decade at Goldman Sachs working across divisions from London to New York. He is now the Founder & CEO of Innermost, an award-winning wellness brand that has challenged industry conventions and reimagined nutritional supplements for the modern age.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I was born and raised in London but my folks emigrated here from The Punjab in the 1960s. They met in London and worked incredibly hard to create a life for themselves. My brother and I were born in London, which makes us first-generation British Indians. We were the first members of our family to go to University; I went to Imperial College London while my brother, who is two years older, went to UCL.
After graduating, I started working in investment banking because that was the thing to do. It was a great experience, and I learnt a huge amount, but I always had a longing to have my own business. Combine that with a passion for health and fitness, and it could explain why I gravitated towards setting up a brand like Innermost.
By way of background, Innermost is a modern wellness brand that makes it easier for people to take control of their health so that they can feel great, whoever and wherever they are on their journey. We do that by using the power of nutrition to craft ground-breaking nutritional supplements that benefit body and mind.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I was raised in a household where food was very much regarded as medicine. Some of my earliest memories were helping my mother pick out exotic herbs and spices, which she would combine into amazing health-giving recipes. In my early teens I stepped into a gym for the first time and was hooked. It wasn’t long before I realised how important the role nutrition played in achieving your fitness goals. While I’ve used nutritional supplements in the past, I felt there was a gap between what I wanted to put into my body versus what was available out there. I felt the market was calling out for a smarter, more interesting approach that offered real clarity and honesty to consumers.
How did you achieve awareness?
The very thing I did after launching the business was to approach every boutique fitness studio who would take a meeting and pitch to them why Innermost would be the perfect partner. It took time and perseverance, but we ended up being stocked in more boutique fitness studios in London than any other nutrition brand. I would regularly go up against smaller emerging brands and large established companies but more often than not, we would win the business. That gave me a huge amount of confidence and a revenue stream, which I reinvested into the business. The majority of the fitness studios we started working with in those early days are still clients to this day. It’s been amazing to go on this incredible journey with them.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The business has been self-funded to date. While we’ve had no shortage of people asking us if we would consider giving away equity for funding, my philosophy has been to grow steadily, prioritise balanced growth, build for the long-term, diversify to ensure we can see out market shocks, and focus on investing in rapid growth as and when opportunities arise. The business is profitable, we’re growing fast and in control of our own destiny. I think that puts us in a really interesting position.
What are the key successes?
As an entrepreneur, it’s all the successes that make the hard work worthwhile. After 18 months of effort to establish the brand, getting the very first online order was an emotional moment. Also, winning our first fitness studio client and our first retailer were very special moments. I still get a huge amount of satisfaction seeing client orders come in whether it’s a huge order from a retailer or a first time buyer on our website.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
I think the biggest challenge was just knowing where to start. While I’ve had huge interest in health and fitness, I’d never worked in the industry and didn’t have any connections or contacts. When I decided this was something I wanted to do, I had to figure everything out from scratch. It required a huge amount of focus, dedication and organisation. An insane work ethic helped too. Without employing all those things, I just wouldn’t have been able to get my head around things as quickly as I did and then start executing.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Continue to grow at pace, consolidating our position in the UK and continuing to expand internationally. We have some amazing brands that we’re working with all over the world including retailers and strategic partners. It all bodes very well for the coming years.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
While it can be a very tough and arduous journey, there are very few things in life that can compare to building and owning a successful business. I always knew deep down that I would regret it if I didn’t try. I’m glad I took the chance and I think that is ultimately what life is all about. Taking chances and shooting your shot.
Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Work hard, trust the process, stay humble, be positive, surround yourself with people you trust and whose advice you respect, focus on your goals, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
· My mother. She inspires me every day with her patience and selflessness.
· Nelson Mandela. A champion of equal rights. He changed history.
· Muhammad Ali. The greatest. Need I say more.
· Tim Ferriss. 4-hour work week? Sign me up.
· Steve Jobs. A visionary with dogged determination and single-mindedness.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
While this changes all the time, let’s go with Rumi, the Persian poet and philosopher who said “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
You can search for Shivraj Bassi on LinkedIn or find me on Instagram and Twitter @shiv_bassi. To find out more about Innermost, visit our website at www.liveinnermost.com and follow us @liveinnermot on your social media channel of choice.