3rd October 2018

'Experienced manpower': How Propel fuelled Tribe's remarkable success story

It’s often said entrepreneurship is a journey - but in the case of Propel’s client Tribe, a sports nutrition startup, that can be said quite literally.

The business was inspired by a 1000-mile journey undertaken by its founders to raise money for charity. Tribe’s co-founders, Tom Stancliffe, Rob Martineau, and Guy Hacking, wanted to raise money to help fight child trafficking.

“We could do that by taking out a begging bowl,” explains co-founder Hacking, “or inviting people along on an amazing journey”. The “amazing journey” was a plan to run 39 marathons in 30 days across Eastern Europe.

It was a success, raising over £250,000 for their noble cause. And along the way, Hacking says, the guys learned a lot. Namely, fuelling yourself with the right nutrition. The calculus was quite simple, says Hacking, either you ate the right stuff and performed - or you didn’t and suffered the next day. There was nowhere to hide.

“It was a year later more or less when the three of us came together. The seed was planted: we experienced first hand the power of natural nutrition.” Tribe has been trading for three years. It now has 50,000 subscribers for its online subscription packs and the brand is about to launch into Boots, Sainsbury’s and Ocado. The company managed to raise nearly £2m in funding to feed this rapid growth.

The company uses Propel as “experienced manpower”, as Hacking phrases it. For the first six months of Tribe’s existence, the company’s numbers were run on Excel. It was a brutally tough experience, says Hacking.

“Being a banker I care about the numbers being accurate and useful,” he says. “I thought I could do everything in Excel. For 6 to 9 months, I was doing the monthly reconciliations, data analytics through Excel.”

Finally, Tribe just got too big for a spreadsheet. Hacking moved to Deloitte Propel. It was a blessing, he says. “There’s a couple of things. First is that experienced manpower. And then, along side the manpower and the extra brains, Propel also introduced us to third party software providers.

“The numbers suddenly made sense. They became the consolidating entity.

“What it means is that we make more insightful business decisions. Before the accounting function was just about getting it right - but there were a lot of assumptions, fingers in the air. Now I’m confident in the quality of the data and make business decisions.”

“Historically, we were only a consumer business, we’d sell directly through online,” says Hacking. “But we see the future of businesses as multichannel.” It’s online, it’s retail, it’s subscription, he explains. “To really scale up in the food space, you have to be able to effectively use your customer base’s full potential.”

Propel supports ambitious startups and SMEs. Contact us to find out how we can help your organisation to get off spreadsheets and into the cloud. Get in touch here.

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