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The young entrepreneur who lived in a shed to achieve his business dream

Young entrepreneur Luke Johnstone is the co-founder of smoothie business Pack’d, but finding his way to success meant living in a garden shed for two years.
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In recent months, Real Business has discovered that today’s consumers are more open to thinking about their health and wellbeing, taking on cleaner lifestyles through both the food they eat as well as the activities they take part in. And now we’ve spoken to a young entrepreneur that has Olympian aspirations.

Luke Johnstone is one of the business leaders making the most of the trend, something that allowed him to take home the Young Entrepreneur of the Year accolade at the Amazon Growing Business Awards.

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Having co-founded frozen smoothie kit business Pack’d, Johnstone works alongside nutritionists to get the product just right.

Offering kits that differ based on lifestyle needs and personal tastes of customers, the selections contains fruit, vegetable and superfood combos to support energy, defence and detox. By adding liquid to the mix alongside the mixture in a blender, the batch is ready at speed.

Having quit his post in the BBC’s natural history unit back in 2013 to then find a business partner in Alex Stewart, the young entrepreneur went on to secure help from Virgin Startup and The Prince’s Trust the following year, at which time the first Pack’d market stall was open for business.

Johnstone opened up on winning the title of Young Entrepreneur of the Year. “I was shocked to win as some of the other nominees are people that I look up to and have inspired me on my journey,” he admitted.

“The judges said that winning was in part due to my knowledge of the market and ambition for the future of PACK’D.”

His ambition certainly paid off, even if at times it meant living in less than conventional quarters.

“Surviving without a financial safety net has been one of the biggest challenges and strongest motivators” adding the young entrepreneur.

“Without personal or family funds to rely on I had to move home and live in a shed at the end of the garden for two years. I worked on product development during the week, as a football coach in the evening and at markets on Saturdays and Sundays to keep the dream alive.”

Pack'd products can now be found in Tesco, Sainsbury's and more

Pack’d products can now be found in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and more

In addition to funding problems, Johnstone said that a lack of industry connections was also a struggle as he set to make Pack’d a success, which he described as “an intense process”.

There are now five full-time members of staff in the company, with growth supported by Pack’d securing that sought-after private investment in 2015 – a year that also saw the company’s products launched in Whole Foods.

And last year, the range of Pack’d went further still as it was launched in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Costco.

Given the nature of the young entrepreneur award, Johnstone reflected on what he would tell his younger self when starting out. “Focus on being efficient and effective,” he opined. “To perform at your best can mean working less and working smarter. Choose the right things to focus your time and energy on.”

Johnstone’s idea was born from personal experience and awareness of what a healthy lifestyle can do for the body.

“A background in sport taught me the power of nutrition to fuel performance. When my tennis scholarship and football dreams were ended by injury, I turned this knowledge into products,” said the young entrepreneur.

“The spark of inspiration was to overcome unhealthy bottled drinks and the hassle of making smoothies from scratch. The aim is to make nutrition easy and fuel potential.”

As we mentioned earlier, the clean living culture is rising at pace, so Johnstone said that innovation and ideas are key in order to stand out and set the standard,

“A runner stands out in the Olympics by breaking a world record and we want to stand out by leading the field in product development,” he detailed.

Looking ahead at the race into this year, Johnstone added: “We will shortly be launching a crowdfunding campaign to fuel our growth, we have new products in development and big listings to announce. So far, we’ve built strong foundations and 2017 is our year to shine.“

Image: Shutterstock

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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