Interviews

A near tragedy that prompted a corporate lawyer to set up a cutting edge food company

7 min read

29 October 2015

Geeta Sidhu Robb was feeding her baby son one day when he suddenly came out in hives and developed difficulties breathing. Although she didn’t know it at the time, he was having an anaphylactic attack and was at risk of death.

Luckily her baby survived the episode and is alive and well, but the experience changed her life. Sidhu Robb was determined to make him fit and well with good food, despite receiving advice from doctors that only steroids and drugs were the way to control his severe food allergies, eczema, asthma and anaphylaxis.

She left her job as a corporate lawyer and retrained as a food technician and nutritionist and learned quickly how to provide a nutritious, balanced and safe diet for her son and in turn, the whole family. Inspired by what she had learned she set up a business to produce food that her son could eat safely. Its focus is on allergy free foods, nutrition, diet and organic produce.

Nosh Detox was founded in 2008. Having already developed a strong customer base, Sidhu Robb used it to raise further investment of £150,000. Her investor/customers came from all walks of life and some worked for big financial institutions such as Blackrock, Terrafirma and Cazenove, although they invested personally. Sidhu Robb raised the money in just four weeks.

“We’d only formally fundraised once before and it was a really painful experience,” she said. “I wanted to learn more about this and to develop this skill set. Crowdfunding sounded an amazing prospect but I didn’t like the risk. If we didn’t raise enough we’d get nothing at all and it’s also quite expensive as a process. So we thought it would be a really cool move to test our own client base and see what they thought of investing in us. Bearing in mind they should be out greatest fans. But we didn’t send it out to all our clients, since we didn’t know how it would really work. We sent the offer only to our top ten per cent of clients. We were fully funded in just four weeks with five emails.”

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In 2012 she launched her first Nosh retail product Nosh Raw Smoothie, the first 100 per cent raw smoothie using an exclusive cold press technology known as high pressure processing, which allows the fruit and other ingredients in each Nosh Raw Smoothie variant to retain more naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and enzymes than any other conventional smoothie, which are usually heat treated using gentle pasteurisation. 

Six months later she launched Nosh Raw Fruity, a range of four delicious flavours of raw juice, using the same cold press technology, to offer the closest thing to juicing and making smoothies yourself, to buy for people on the go.

Both Raw Smoothie and Raw Fruity are now available to buy from her website and Ocado, Whole Foods, Amazon and Planet Organic, as well as independent retailers nationwide. 

She has also launched raw wheatgrass shots and this summer a range of Raw Green juices will be on supermarket shelves. In January 2013 she opened the Nosh Infusion Clinic which administers IV vitamin drips. It has now has branches in Baker Street in London as well as Guildford and Newcastle. A Nosh opened in Texas earlier this year.

The company has now been valued at £3.5m and customers include Gwyneth Paltrow, Georgia May Jagger and Poppy Delivigne. Today the company develops food that tackles everything from treating problem skin, weight issues and digestive problems to coping with stress and fighting infections. Sidhu Robb promotes her company with public relations and other awareness raising activities. “I regularly speak publicly, and do joint ventures with influencers, bloggers, some social media mainly twitter and digital marketing,” she said.

However, the company suffered a serious blow last year. “We found that two of our senior team had set up their own juice business from our kitchen and were using our raw materials to do it,” she said. “We had to fire them, some of our team went with them, all the know-how went too and it was really hard to get any redress from the courts. It nearly brought us down as a business.”

Nosh Detox has bounced back, though, and Sidhu Robb’s vision is for the name to become synonymous with raw and healthy living – just as BUPA is synonymous with private healthcare. 

She described herself as a food technician and nutritionist with a thorough understanding on how nutrition affects body functions. Having spent over a decade working with children with autism, ADD, ADHD, asthma, eczema and allergies – seeing how diet affects them and what helps them to be calmer, yet have more energy – Sidhu Robb plans to grow the business as well as expanding her own knowledge and experience as she brings her products and philosophy to a wider audience.

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