Episode 003 - Colin Price - Executive to Entrepreneur (at 66) | Limeworks

Episode 003 - Colin Price

Executive to Entrepreneur (at 66)

How Colin Price is leveraging corporate experience with his brand new venture.

With an illustrious career including General Manager of one of the countries largest horse feed manufacturers, Colin Price is taking 30 years of experience to launch a brand new company at Age 66.

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With an illustrious career including General Manager of one of the countries largest horse feed manufacturers, Colin Price is taking 30 years of experience to launch a brand new company at Age 66.

We discuss all things corporate, lessons learnt, startup culture, and so much more.

Check out Colin's Company: https://www.benchmarkfeeds.com.au/

Transcription

Please note, while an effort is made to provide an accurate transcription, errors and omissions may be present. No part of this transcription can be referenced or reproduced without permission.

Rob: So, Colin, thanks for coming today to have a bit of a chat to us.

Colin: My pleasure

Rob: I really wanted to chat to you about your transition from a business executive to entrepreneur. I think it's a really interesting journey and how some of those skills can transfer from that executive career into entrepreneurial spirit. And so can we can we maybe start with a bit of your background history and how you came to be to where you are now?

Colin: How long have you got mate?

Rob: Oh, well. You know, the time is running, but we'll keep going.

Colin: My journey. Well, my journey, my career started in New Zealand. And it's probably a little different to most. And when I was very young, I went from secondary education and to into an advertising career which lasted a few years and morphed into deciding that I'd had enough of the city life. You know, this is the hustle and bustle of Christchurch in the seventies. So,

Rob: Relative.

Colin: So my wife and I went out country and I worked on some properties. We were involved in horses and those... Through my first wife, my involvement was with horses. So we, like a lot of horse people do, chase some land and an opportunity to have more horses around you. And so I learned about farming and went and became a stockman and shepherd in the high country of Canterbury. But the opportunity is long term and that is not really, not really great for a young family, you know, growing young, having a young family. And the future was going to be sitting where I was doing that same job for 20 years. So I put my hand up for a Rep's job and an agricultural wholesaler's company and got the job and started that career as a sales rep in the agricultural sector with an interest in horses. So we developed a horse stud because we lived rural and I was selling agricultural products and electric fencing and all sorts of different things. And my career sort of morphed and evolved over time. And I got involved some years later with a horse feed brand called Mitavite, which was owned then by the Ingham family. And I developed quite a large business in the South Island of New Zealand for the Mitavite brand and develop the brand. And this went on for some years with a few various sort of went off on a few tangents from here and here and there. But when it got to the point about 2002, the national sales manager for my divide in Australia left and that role became available. And I put my hand up. And because of my success with the motorbike brand and my knowledge of the equine industry, somehow I got the job and I was 50 and moved to Australia. So 2004, I started in Australia with as a national sales and marketing manager with the motor boat business who was owned by the Ingham family and developed. I loved the role. Loved the developing a team of really good people. And it took me a couple of years to settle in and to be accepted by probably some of the Aussie people who thought Kiwis didn't know anything about Australia.

Rob: Know nothing of the sort.

Colin: No. And but, you know, over over many years developed an amazing sort of portfolio of relationships and had a great team of people around me and developed some pretty good skills amongst my team. And and I was pretty comfortable sitting there, really, to be honest. And that lasted about 15 years. And my career evolved to the point where I became general manager of the business and the business changed from being family to being more corporate. The Ingham family sold the market. They sold their their chicken business to private equity. And that became a listed company. And then that listed company split off might have. Right. And sold it again to private equity. So my my path with might have like came to an end with the sale of the mind about business to private equity, which is the case now. So that's my short version of a a long career. You know, I've been in the business for 40 plus years. As I say, there are a few other things happened along the way, but that's effectively the path. I'm now married to an Australian lady and I'm really Australian as far as this is where I live the rest of my life and my family and my sons are spread around the world. No one in Australia and a couple in the UK and and I share a lot of a lot of family with my wife and grandchildren, etc.. So it's it's been a good journey. Really pretty, Gajendra.

Rob: So it's it's an interesting mix of experience that you've got. And as you say, it's a it's a sort of a non typical path that led you to be general manager of modified. You know, you've but you've you've gained some really interesting skills through advertising, equine and sales, which is sort of this holy trinity of, you know, what you want to make a business out of. And so now you find yourself taking on an entrepreneurial venture and leveraging the skills that you've got. And, you know, can you I guess really what I want to find out about is what things have you picked up on over that career path that, you know, really jumpstart this process so effectively contrasting what you're doing now versus what you would have done, say, fresh out of high school?

Colin: Well, it's I guess it's it's experience and knowledge and and living as part of the industry, you're involved in, you know, the equine industries as complex. But it's you know, we most people look at horses and think of racing, but racing's only a minor part of the equine industry. And and really, it's the the immature owner who's got a passion for horses, who really changes their life to be able to be with horses. And my first wife and I did that when we were in our 20s. You know, we we went country so we could have more horses around us and lift the city and and change my career because of that. People do that every time. All the time. Now, you know, they can be in the city and they think, ah, we could possibly have five acres out in the Hills district and we could have three horses and the kids could go to pony club. And they then they then take their life and they move it along in that direction. They invest heavily in property, property, increase their mortgage. They have infrastructure and a vehicle to tow horses. And they buy horses and they have settles and the whole thing becomes a lifestyle. And you've got to have the respect for those people because you can't dismiss them. They are heavily invested in their passion and they go to great lengths to actually explore it. So understanding that from a feed context is really important because these people loved the horses. They care about them. They want to do the best for them. So having an opportunity to create a range of products, that's going to be really good for the horses and it's going to engage them correctly just from the opposite end of the corporate scale. You know, as a personal as a personal thing, you know that my business is personal and we want to be totally committed to the market that we're we're operating in and understand our customers. So I don't know where that's answered your question. You might want to tidy, tidy that a little bit.

Rob: No, I think I think the essence of what's there is is understanding your customer by being a customer. You know, once before is really the leg up. And no doubt that would have helped you in your prior role as well. But the collective experience of being on the customer side, being on the corporate side and you know, of being such an integral part of that business for so long, really positions you well to to just I guess not not avoid mistakes, but make less mistakes when you're launching your own venture, which, you know, obviously when we're bootstrapping anything, it's it's critical to get that right because we don't have that fallback. You know, if you had a failed campaign, say, when you were at at Motivate, you know, the ramifications were probably not great. But if you have a that same failure in a startup context or an entrepreneurial context, it can. The whole show can. It can close down. So I guess, is there anything that's already stood out which, you know, missteps that you've already avoided or, you know, thinking about the direction that you've taken, even the way you've engaged vendors, perhaps taking to market a product that you don't have already to effectively presale? Is there something like that that, you know, he may not have thought about prior, but that experience has kind of brought that to light?

Colin: Absolutely. And the biggest thrillers that we we sit down, set down to create this brand and this range and talk to nutritionists, we talk to a distributor, potential distributor. And we have a very close relationship with the Australian distributor who my relationship with them goes back obviously 10 or 15 years. And we had a lot of success together. And in the feed environment, the rules have changed and that the the value that some suppliers place on their distribute distribution model has changed. So they have different distribution models. So there is an opportunity to say, hey, here's something that we can do together. And they've invested energy into it, not financially, but they've invested and they've got commitment for the range. And they were part of the development process. You know, you can't for example, you wouldn't want to go launch your Horsfield brand and say, here's 20 products. The retailer will go. I don't want 20 products. What am I going to do with them? It's confusing, you know, so we've got seven products and six that are packaged in and bags. So it's easy to grasp. And it covers all the major key selling areas, the categories of of horses and. And I think those things have been received, received positively. And, you know, we attended a conference in February and are still months away from launch and told our story and our story was incredibly well received.

Colin: And people the fact that we're independents, like the people we're talking to, were passionate about it. We understand the market. We're asking them only to look at six or seven products and not 20. And we doing things that we know that will resonate with our with our customer. For example, we've gone back to paper, recyclable paper packaging, whereas the industry is full of what's called BHP, which is laminated poly, not recyclable. Difficult to manage, ends up in landfill. And people hate it, you know. And I do myself and I have we've used it for years and and the act. And if a horse owner scenario, when they empty a bag of feed into their feed bin and they end up with his empty bag, there's a dilemma. You know what I'm going to do with us? You know, some some. It's a real it's a real tag on the conscience. Inevitably, whether it's that person or somebody down the chain who's using it, again, it ends up in landfill. So we've bitten the bullet. You know, there's disadvantages with paper because not as durable, the reproduction process for printing isn't as great, but the cost is a little higher. But it's a it's just a no brainer for us. You know, you've got to have something that your customer wants to buy and deal with, you know?

Rob: I think sometimes these these small or seemingly small aspects can really be such a valuable thing as well. I've never owned horses, but I've had chickens and as much as they would feed off kitchen scraps and that sort of thing. Sometimes we would have to supplement their feed and, you know, we'd go to the local rural dealer, buy some chicken feed. And same comes in a plastic pack and, you know, empty out the feed into the into the steel bin or whatever, and then go and have to try and dispose of this packaging. And it sort of makes you feel bad about what you're trying to achieve and slightly different context to what the equine owners are doing. But I can imagine a horse is eating a lot more feed than a couple of chickens in the backyard as well. So the problem is compounded as well. So you solve it with something, you know, quite small and unique. And as you say, compromise on the packaging in terms of print resolution or, you know, you've got to keep and dryer and all that sort of thing. But there's a there's an innate value add and solve those problems along the way. And, you know, it's just one more thing that gives the retailers a reason to sell it. The you know, the customers a reason to buy it. And, you know, this cycle continues.

Colin: Yeah, yeah. Another another example of that is that on every bag of our product, we give 100 percent money back guarantee, which is my personal guarantee. And if the purchases are unhappy for any reason, they can contact me and we can put that right for them. So. But if you've got a premium brand at the end of the day, you always support it. So from a manufacturing and marketing point of view, we've all like in my previous role as a premium brand and we supported it. So there was an issue with the product. You replaced it and supported it or did whatever you needed to do to make that customer comfortable. But we're just putting it upfront to say, don't worry. You know, we've got 100 percent got your back. If you're not, Hepi will replace it. Will refund. You will do whatever we need to do, because at the end of the day, that's what's going to happen. But we're just putting it out there and in front of people so they can say they know first right upfront that we're 100 percent behind our product.

Rob: I suppose there's some something around the psychology of the sales process as well. Is, as you say, it's not that that guarantee doesn't. Almost it's it's not that guarantees are not implied with pretty much everything that you purchase.

Colin: It is, Yeah.

Rob: But bringing it to light has real value proposition, especially when it's a new product to market. And you're trying to get a customer to switch. It's like changing brands of toothpaste will buy a particular brand just because we buy that brand, not because we necessarily prefer it over over the other. And so there is a necessity to sort of catalyze that switch. And so how do you go about really raising awareness for a new brand in this sort of space when you know, I know that that, you know, motorbike typically did a lot of sponsorships and had a real culture there. How do you bring in something without spending way too much money and, you know, making sure you're getting a justified return? Have you sort of started to tackle that?

Colin: We're really using where we're engaging the community and the horse community, the equestrian communities, heavily social. So there's a lot of people on social media and that's the obvious route. But it's also the word of mouth and it's the key people within the industry who we have relate. And I have past relationships with who are looking for something new as he is to really engage with them, give them the confidence to make recommendations on your product. So we're not going to be in a position to spend a lot of money on on marketing initially. And we we don't want the product to be marketed latently to the to the equestrian community, want people to hear about it and get recommendations from within the community. So the boon will be slower, the build will be slower in it. Now, with KOVA 19, we can't go and see anybody at the moment anyway. So we're rolling out in May and it'll be we're planning to have a slow development for the brand over time. And he'd be perfectly happy with that because we want to we want to make sure we don't disappoint anybody. We want to make sure that everything's in place and our forecasting and production are in place. So there's nobody coming back saying I bought this bag is great, but I can't get the next one. We want to make sure there's no no constraints on that. There's a there's a smooth passage for growth as well. So so we just quite happy to to use the conversation and be part of the conversation.

Rob: I think that's an interesting assessment there as well with in terms of being able to convert that that lead, if that effectively walks through the retailer's door. And you have no control over that. If someone walks in and they can't, you know, they're after your brand of feed and they can't buy it, well, then they're just going to revert to old behavior and you going to have to start the whole process again. You know, it just mentioned Kobe 19. On the flip side of that, we've seen some industries in such high demand that, you know, they're they're disappointing customers in a lot of ways because the supply chain fails. And while that's an exceptional circumstance, not having all that supply chain worked out, you know, sort of a a slow ramp in period or, you know, running massive promotions and not being able to cater for those. You know, it's not only an expensive exercise, but it can fail spectacularly as well.

Colin: Absolutely. Ah look, horse feed is no different to your brand of breakfast cereal. People don't want a change, which they are comfortable with a product. They want to keep their product going. So they want to be able to buy it again. So we just need to be in a position where we can not disappoint people in that regard. You know, it's it's very critical. And, you know, horse owners think of horse feed the same way as they think of the feed for their kids. You know, it's just the same level of concern. So we need to be able to to get all those things right and put them in place. And that's all working towards.

Rob: In terms of coming up with, you know, marketing budgets and that sort of thing in, say, an executive scenario, it's done off sales or sales forecasts and that sort of thing. Whereas in a small business context, a lot of start up founders and things will look at marketing as a cost as opposed to an investment. Is it something that you learnt over the years that really changes your position on that and and reframes marketing as a as part of the growth strategy as opposed to just a cost?

Colin: Look, I had a few things that probably weren't successful, if you look at the return on investment directly, but they were successful in building the brand awareness and the culture around the brand. Those things, 10 can be expensive to do. You know, we had a number of campaigns over the years that that weren't purely sales driven, but they were to build our build that presence for the brand within the community. And I want to do things that that do that in the future as well. And I think I think those things will happen and will come. But, you know, really, there's probably nothing specific that is going to determine what we do now. But we just we just building this feeling within the community now. We've launched our social media platforms prelaunch so that people are familiar with our products and and our brand. And so when it comes along, they'll say, oh, yeah, I saw that, you know, but we're making it quite clear that you can't go in today and buy a bag of feed because it's a month away from being in a retail store. But we are active and we are trying to build this conversation going forward.

Rob: Mark Colvin, how important do you think those relationships, say, with the retailers and the wholesalers play into this start up? I mean, we think about, you know, you look at it, look at the news and think about businesses starting up. It's like, oh, there's a billion dollar nation, a billion dollar valuation on a new neo bank or there's a billion dollar valuation on a on the latest greatest app that's out. You know, personally, I don't know the first thing about starting a banking company. So but I guess, you know, other people do, and that's where they go down that path. Do you think you would have, say, skills transfer into another industry with the same level of return? Or do you think that passion and that just living that life really is what drives that?

Colin: Well, the relationship with our retailer and wholesaler is absolutely pivotal to success. And we put great value in providing not just information, but we actually partner with these people so that our wholesaler is fully invested and what we're doing. And we took every couple of days, we're developing joint social campaigns and so on, so that so that we can get at this product through the distribution network into the retailer, rewarding, engaged with the retailers as well. And they are going to support that process. So it's critical that we are able to do that and that we have the relationships that form the basis of being able to do that. I would think I would struggle if I didn't come in with some some equity already. You know, I we came in with a proposal to a distributor, and it's me that comes in and they know what we can do together. So we've got history. But if I was coming in at my stage of my career with something brand new and something I was not familiar with and trying to engage a corporate distributor or retail network or whatever, that would be much more difficult for me to do.

Rob: So maybe help perhaps if you are launching cereal, as you know, as you mentioned before, people don't like to change cereal. If you were doing a similar thing and similar sized business set up and that sort of thing, you think the results be substantially different?

Colin: I do. I do. Look, my business has always been relationship based, and whether that's with your customer or with my sales team, it's really about having ownership and all levels of your business. And, you know, my my management style was very was to develop autonomy for my team so that they felt they had their own business to run and they were self-motivated and and they looked at opportunities because it was their business that they were driving. While I'm replicating that within the benchmark brand and framework with a team of people that will feel the same way. I'm very careful that we get the right people so that they take ownership of what they're doing as well. So it's really it's just really simple thing. It's a really simple thing. And it gets I think in the corporate sense, it gets watered down. The things that are really important in business get watered down and forgotten a little bit. In the my last role, I started off, as I said, being working for a family business. And I developed a sense of ownership and I treated that business like my own. And over the years, as we got more corporate and the business was sold and reshaped, became less of my business and more of their business. And so you tend to lose will you lose the the the attitude or the approach that you have? Not saying I didn't enjoy it. I loved it, and I was very passionate about it. But you knew beside that that you weren't pulling the strings anymore. You know, you you were making those decisions that you thought were best for the business. You may have thought those decisions were the best for the business, but the financial analysts said, I know, you know, that's not best for the business because it's going to impact here.

Rob: Yeah, of course.

Colin: And so it was a a process of sliding, of diluting what was really, I think, important now with creating this new brand and this new business. I can bring that to the fore again, because I think relationships are just absolutely paramount.

Rob: So obviously, having an emphasis on on culture is important for you as well. How if you're starting something up from scratch. How do you try and set those cultural values from the outset? Is it sort of set by the industry because it pretty tight as a community, or is that something that you you know, you know how to foster that identity?

Colin: I don't think it's just industry based. I think it's we're we're probably fortunate because the people within this industry are passionate about horses. Now, it's hard to get passionate about breakfast cereal in the same way. It becomes more of a brand driven loyalty type thing. But we know we have this passion to to engage with. And it's how you engage with that and the people around it. And that gives you the opportunity to do well, I think. And, you know, there are a lot of people that I've come across over the last 15 years who are really good friends and have been good business associates, who just can't wait to get hold of this because they know what's behind it. They know they're the set of values that comes with it. And it's not hard for me to convey those values to them. It's really a given because they know how we've operated before and how I've operated before. But with a new industry and a new business, it would be much more difficult. You'd have to do it really through the people, the relationships that you develop, new relationships that you develop. And that's a much more difficult task. I think.

Rob: So I think he there's also there's already this sort of common objective in this common focal point that sort of collectively brings everyone together.

Colin: There is, absolutely is, yeah. There is a commonality in the industry, and that's for health and welfare of horses and performance and all the other things that go with it, so...

Rob: Yeah, I mean, as they say, you know, you do what you do what you love and then the money comes second. And I think this is really an example of that as well. And, you know, it is business and at the end of the day. But the the passion is what's driving the focal point is what's driving the innovation, say, in the packaging. It's, you know, and looking to to deliver a really top notch product and where, say, in a corporate setting, you may be forced to change formulas or, you know, make you don't squeeze percentage points out of profit margins and that sort of thing. Whereas here you can make a little bit more of a long term assessment and make decisions based on that.

Colin: You're absolutely right. You can and take the long take the long view. I think it's it's the way forward and being having it having the ability to make those decisions is incredibly rewarding and knowing that that's how it's going to be. So.

Rob: Yeah, and I guess in in your change to this setting from a corporate setting, that's sort of that flexibility that's returned and, you know, you get to drive up with the values that are important to you, not just to, you know, the the board of directors or the shareholders.

Colin: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.

Rob: So in terms of distribution and that sort of thing, are you pushing Australia and New Zealand in terms of product launch? Is there any challenges that, you know, pushing products across continents creates that would be say? Yeah, a little bit simpler if you stayed in Australia or have you already discovered those hurdles in the corporate world?

Colin: I have. And sending feed across the Tasman is challenging because you're not allowed to sign anything that germinates, so you can't sign any viable seed to New Zealand. So everything in your life and your bag of feed needs to be basically neutralized or processed or cooked or micronized so that it doesn't germinate. New Zealand don't want any seeds. It's just like W.A.. The same thing applies and W. It's a very strict border. So you make products that meet those requirements. So we do that. But also we're also planning to manufacture a couple of our products in New Zealand as well. So I have a manufacturer in New Zealand who's going to provide that service for us because for me as a Kiwi, it's going to give me great pleasure to not only to get the advantages of the manufacturing, but also to be making Feed and New Zealand so we can't make the whole range in New Zealand because of limitations on on the way that the feed is prepared. And. But we can do a couple of good couple of really good products. So we were going to do that and we will. Our aim is to sell a reasonable amount of feed in New Zealand. We'll be also exporting to other Asian countries. But our main focus initially is Australia, because we need such a vast market, a big market and a physically demanding to get product to all corners of the country. So that's going to take some effort.

Rob: Yeah, no doubt. I know that New Zealand's manufacturing is is really world class and and really there is a lot of produce that goes to New Zealand to become packaged product or frozen product and come back to sit in the frozen aisles or the FMC G aisles of Australia is. Does that play into consideration for you guys or is that just something that's specific to say, you know, human food consumption, and it doesn't really apply here?

Colin: Yeah, look, it probably doesn't because we're talking at the end of the day, we're talking about Stockfeed, which is bulky and lower value. So that sort of process doesn't stack up as far as getting it to market at a reasonable price. But New Zealand farmers is a farming community. Feed milling is a traditional industry in New Zealand. And, you know, 40, 50 years ago, there were feed mills in every small town around the country because the the the the grains were grown locally. And they were they were made into food locally or milled into flour or whatever it might have been. So so it's got a richer cottage in New Zealand and they're very good at producing good, good product. So we're we're taking advantage of that, which is which is also enjoyable. And I think it will, I think it'll be a good direction for us to go.

Rob: Interesting. Changing gears a little bit, I say, looking at this executive to entrepreneurial transition again. Is there anything that sort of surprised you? Obviously in the executive context, he used to, you know, pay now is looking at the books and all that sort of thing. But obviously, in an entrepreneurial context, there is not someone sitting there doing that already or there's no book keeper or there's no work. You know, you have to find a new account and all that sort of thing. Is there something that stood out as particularly challenging for that transition that maybe caught you off guard a little bit? Or maybe you predicted it and just had to wade through it anyway.

Colin: Yeah. No, look, really. No, it's... To be honest, I think all the parts of the business that we we had to put together our costings to do that were pretty accurate at the end of the day. As I say, it's a it's a pretty slick business model that we've developed. We've got low fixed costs and most of our costs are built into our as a cost of sales rather than a fixed cost. No bricks and mortar, no stock, no warehousing, no freight transport. So it's it's a fairly tidy, lean operation from a business perspective. So our team is quite small but specialized. You know, we contractor nutrition services, our social media marketing. We have a consultant who provides us with those services. And our team of salespeople will be independent salespeople because they'll have other things on the go as well as a as they grow and specialist in the Equant area. So so I think there's nothing that's caught us out so far. You know, we've been we've done our done our job. We've done our you know, our intellectual property is paramount. We own all our own intellectual property. We've done our trademarking and and so on. We want to have total ownership of this business. Nobody else has got a stake in it. My wife and I own it. And we want to keep it that way and say that we need to own everything that's to do with it. So. So that's been an important consideration. And when we've made decisions about how we structure even our feed premixes are our intellectual property. So.

Rob: Is there a tipping point that you see in the future where that that where that breakdown may change in terms of, you know, using three people and like third party logistics and, you know, contract feed and that sort of thing? Do you see a tipping point where maybe the case is made to change that model?

Colin: Look, it's always something that we would look at, but or or consider. But I can't see it at the moment. The way I want to have this business run is really so that we don't get bogged down. We're not expert manufacturers, for example. So there's no way I was going to be buying. I'm not going to be a feed, Miller. I'm not a feed Miller. So we have an expert feed Miller who produces the products that we want. Look, there may be changes in the future, but we've got a couple of sides to our business as well. Our core business is called Equal Brands, and it's really a brand representation business that represents brands and helps grow equine brands. So we're going to be managing other brands within the market as well. Through my through my the air edman system and our sales and marketing team, we're going to be representing other brands that are good brands that are complementary to what we're doing with our benchmark feed brand. So even though we we own the benchmark feeds brand, we'll be representing other brands that we don't own. And that might be purely an online sector of our business that doesn't use our distribution network. Or it might be channeling our existing distribution network and developing new ones. But it does depend on on the range and how we want to present that to the market. So, so we may be developing a 3PL system for a range of different products as well.

Rob: So you may go from feeds to saddles and rugs and whatever,

Colin: Could. Yeah,

Rob: Yeah.

Colin: Yeah. Could be anything. Yeah. Things that are complimentary in that, in that equine space.

Rob: So there's the future scale plan is effectively replication of the model in slightly different market segments than vertical integration or more just dominating all other brands in feed.

Colin: I Don't, look...

Rob: Which, of course, will happen.

Colin: Look, our goal is not to do that. Our Initial goal is to have a successful business that people are engaged with. We're not going to take over the world. We're not a manufacturer. So but we are going to have a really good range of products that will will resonate with the equestrian market. We've made a decision initially to stay away from the racing market because the racing market has to be engaged face to face. And it's a really expensive market to service. And it's you've got to have a team of people that continually call on trainers when they're allowed to horse, which they can't now. But you've got to have the relationship with the individual end user. And it's expensive exercise to do that. And trainers aren't as loyal, because it's the commercial side of the business. They're not as loyal as an equestrian consumer,

Rob: Sureo

Colin: If that makes sense.

Rob: It's less of an emotive purchase and more of a business purchase.

Colin: Very much so. So it's price driven. It depends what the the trainer next door is having great success and they may change because they want to do the same as their trainer. So things that will outside your control influence buying patents. So. So we've decide to stay away from that sector of the market. And we are concentrating on the equestrian community. And we believe that we can be more effective in engaging them and providing the products that they are looking for.

Rob: Is there a pattern in the question industry where there's a certain amount of celebrity save you, you have a sponsored rider that wins competition, you know, is there a rush on that feed, just like there's a Kardashian handbag or, or something In that. Does that sort of exist in that space?

Colin: Yes, it does. Yes, it absolutely and there's a huge amount of sponsorship, rider sponsorship in the Horsefeed business, particularly in the saddlery business and the clothing business for equestrian clothing and saddlery. So there's a lot of there's a lot of that identity with leading performers, not quite celebrity status necessarily, but people do follow those leading performers. But at the there's a there's another area. There's another market, which is the kids and pony club. And the amateur, those people who never aspire to be a five star event rider. So they don't necessarily relate to what they do because the fees they use on their horses are very different to what you feed a pony club pony. So there's a level of relativity, but it's not an absolute you know, it's not like a handbag was one handbag suits everybody. You know, you want a pony club feed, which is very cool and lower energy. And that suits a fair chunk of the market. But you the premium or the elite end of the market wants a more like a race feed. And you certainly don't want to feed the race feed to the pony club pony.

Rob: Sure. Yeah, that makes sense. So you thinking a little bit again about culture in your sales force. And and that aspect of the business, because they're coming onboard, even though there's some existing relationships and that sort of thing. How have you sort of structured it so you can effectively quality control those conversations that they're having? Or is it merely a process of vetting the salespeople in the first place and communicating your values enough so that effectively so that they translate the brand through to the customer?

Colin: It's a it's a process of building a relationship with those people. So I don't sit down and lecture them about this is what you have to say. I actually get them to say what I say. By just by an example, you know, just by showing them how we communicate the message and develop the same. They need to develop the same empathy that I have with the with the market and also the same enthusiasm and the same ownership of the brand that I have. And that happens pretty naturally, really. It doesn't happen instantly, but it happens over time. So I'm really confident that I'll have my team of salespeople that are all on the same page as me. I'm very transparent, so I keep them engaged and advised and informed and all discussions rather than say this is how it's going to be. I say, this is what I'm thinking. Just ever think about that. Let me know what you think, because this is the this is where I'm thinking that we're going to go to. And I fed several people now involved from the very first concept of the business. And they've come along with me and they've been involved in a lot of discussions. And and I chuckled ideas at them. And they've given me feedback so that part of this whole journey as well.

Rob: Yeah, of course. So they're effectively mirroring your behavior anyway, just from that that level of interaction.

Colin: Yeah, and they've given me some really good ideas that I hadn't thought of and we've adopted. And, you know, and so they have some ownership, and the fact that we've gone this direction and it's fantastic to do that is really good.

Rob: Ultimately, everybody wins right?

Colin: Yeah, yeah.

Rob: So with these sales people and, you know, you've brought them on from a really early stage as well. You touched on engaging the retailers with what you're doing very early on and effectively getting some runs on the board before there's a product sitting in a warehouse. Is there any any challenges there in in sort of building that confidence or do you just leverage the relationships and forge a product from that trust?

Colin: It's not an issue as long as you keep coming back and communicating. So if you create have this conversation early and get some people saying, yes, I'm really keen, I want to I'd like to have a look at it or I'm keen to stock it. And then you leave Malone and two or three months goes by and they have what's going on. You know, I haven't heard. You've got to then go back and communicate on a regular basis and say, this is where we're at. We're only this far away and we've got some trial product or whatever. Would you like to have you got somebody you think would like to do a review on the product? So there's it's just a process of keeping them engaged. We were be sitting and we're doing that now. We have been doing that over the last month or so from our initial sort of prelaunch in February that we had the communication lines going through e-mail and through some advertising and saying, hey, look, thank you for your support. This is where we're at now. So we've got them engaged. I know that, you know, we launched our Facebook and Instagram pages only a week ago, and the people that we've been talking to have all jumped on it and said, hey, can't wait. You know, that's sort of it's been that sort of response, which has been good.

Rob: I think there's a lot of credit to be given to, you know, that that pre-launch early buzz, pre-launch buzz aspect of things as well, and certainly if you can get certain people engaged early on, even before there's a product to sell. Do you think there's ever a risk of going too early and having a copycat come out? You know, we see on, say, Shark Tank, that sort of thing. As soon as soon as anyone appears on that show, there's 14 clones that hit the market at the same time. Obviously, there's first mover advantage still at play there. But is there ever a concern?

Colin: It's always something and you and your back of your mind. But it takes a long time to develop a new feed product. One product takes ages to go through the process and develop not just the formulation they're manufacturing, but the packaging. You know, lead time of probably 16 weeks on packaging from go go to whoa. So it's you've got a bit of time up your sleeve and, you know, you can't not put it out there. Wendy, put it out there, you know. So we've we've basically put it out there. We published our website and our Web site's incredibly informative. All our competitors would have had a look and said, oh, this is what they're doing and this is their. This is the nutritional analysis. But it's not the formulations. It's just a nutritional analysis. So they don't know what's now premix. And really what's in our product. But we're very transparent with the user. They need to know what's in there. And the fact that it's not going to change formulation, they're going to get what they this is. And also the nutritional numbers that are there for them to see what it's contributing to their diet. So so I'm not scared about that. We've we haven't been top secret. There's always there's a bit of buzz around the industry from from our competitors or from those major players knowing that Colomb prices up to something. We're just not sure what it is yet. But we know he's doing something and then somebody else will, you know, put a bit of another slant on it and say, I know what he's doing. He's doing this. I've heard some good stories back.

Rob: There's always some good stories out there.

Colin: So that's just part of the part of the deal, really. We haven't had a top secret. We've confided in people to different levels and those we trust, we have confided, confided in. But we have been we're not silly. We know that people then talk about what what's going on. So we've had a few stories back. But but no, I'm not too concerned about it, to be honest.

Rob: Well, I think that's the reality as well. And I've always felt similar in that you can put it out there, but it can't just be cloned. You know, Gordon Ramsay can show you how to make a five star mission Michelin meal, but it doesn't mean you suddenly a Michelin star chef. And therein lies the difference

Colin: Yes, and it's not about, it's not a product. This is a story. This is a whole story. This is not just about one product or two products that can be copied that haven't got the story. And we've got, you know, the brain story that comes with it. What comes behind it is what's more important, I think.

Rob: Well that's the difference between a brand and a product right?

Colin: Absolutely.

Rob: Well, Colin, we're coming up on time, but I've really enjoyed this chat. And for anyone who's watching or listening, where can they find your feeds?

Colin: Look, we're benchmarkfeeds.com.au, benchmarkfeeds.co.nz, benchmark horse feeds on... @benchmarkhorsefeeds on Instagram and Facebook.

Rob: Sounds fantastic. And Colin Price on LinkedIn.

Colin: Yes.

Rob: Colin, thanks for the chat,

Colin: Pleasure.

Rob: and we wish you all the luck with the launch.

Colin: Thank you. Thank you.

Rob: Thank you.

Colin: Cheers

Rob: There you have it. I hope you really enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please like it, share it, or leave us a review on your favourite platform. It helps us show more of this content to people just like you.