in the buff

with Henry Kay & Nick Briggs, Founders

In this chapter of Start-Up Stories, we got to chat with Henry Kay & Nick Briggs, the brains behind In the Buff Protein Ketchup! These co-founders have taken an awesome idea and turned it into a reality, have a read to see what they had to say about their start-up business!

What’s the story of In the Buff Protein Ketchup?

Henry – I am a regular guy, with a full time IT day job, who tries to keep fit and healthy as a daddy to two young children. So, three mornings a week, I force myself out of bed at 6am and use the gym for a HIIT workout to get the blood pumping and the brain awake. During one of these workouts, I had a brainwave for a high-protein, healthy ketchup after thinking about what to have for my lunch once I got to my desk. I like to warm up last night’s leftovers but they often need waking up with more flavour and moisture, so I was finding myself drenching my healthy food in quite unhealthy ketchups and sauces – which just didn’t make sense to me.

“So, I got the pots and pans out and started throwing ingredients together”and researching protein sources and flavour ideas – in my very limited spare time!

Crucially I wanted to create something that was made from plant-based protein and not just any old cheap protein that is sometimes added to food products as a marketing trend. In The Buff is also deliberately low in sugar and salt, gluten-free and vegan-friendly, to appeal to as many health-conscious people as possible.

After an introduction to Nick Briggs through a mutual friend, we jointly decided that the world needed a new kind of ketchup – one that’s perfect for foodies and fitness lovers. So, with the help of Nick’s brilliant business brain and his experiences in bringing products to market we created something brand new that packs a protein punch and a flavour kick. No preservatives. No additives. Nothing to hide at all.

Now, 2 years later, it is hitting the shelves having launched on 15th May!

When did it go from an idea to a reality?

Henry – A significant turning point was when we secured our first investment and started to line up a factory to produce our ketchup in scale. That meant that this crazy dream was looking like it could actually turn into a real product! Seeing the final branding and bottles on the production line being filled and labelled with our brand also really brought it home and put huge smiles on our faces 🙂

Awesome name! How did you come up with it?

Henry – The name represents the ‘naked’ stripped-back nature of the ingredients we use, but also encompasses our brand personality of being transparent, honest, fun and charismatic  – there are no nasties at all such as preservatives or stabilisers. It also plays on the ‘buff body’ goal of many fitness fans and ‘everyday athletes’. Our brilliant creative partners @southpawagency helped us to develop the name and the brand.

What’s changed for you since starting a business?

Henry – I certainly have a lot less time, that’s for sure! But I wake up every day really excited for what new opportunities and successes might arrive, which I certainly didn’t do when I was just working a standard day job. I am really proud that I have managed to get to this point by sheer determination and by working hard pretty much every early morning and late evening around my work and family life. I live and breathe this business and I’m always thinking of new flavour and product ideas and planning ahead.

Nick – For me it’s such a pleasure to get up everyday doing something I’ve always wanted to do with someone who genuinely shares the same beliefs and motivations.

“Don’t get me wrong, it has certainly not been easy, and it’s a real roller coaster experience daily.”

That’s the charm of being a start up, owning our own destiny versus the career I left, which although successful and enjoyable, was full of politics, processes, structures and often people not ‘really’ being proud of what they were doing. ‘Waiting for the pay check’ is the expression I hear a lot of now. I now find myself as ‘chief plate spinner’ where you have have to do everything for yourself and you’re constantly learning and getting stuck in as there’s no-one else to lean on. As we all only have one life, I see this business as our way of truly living our lives the way we want to rather than being told or conforming to a certain corporate culture that might not really be right for us.

Your sauce is gluten-free, plant-based and vegan! How long did it take to get that perfect sauce?

Henry – Quite a while! The best part of a year actually, it was vital that we didn’t take shortcuts by adding stabilisers and preservatives or settle for cheaper, less quality ingredients. We experimented with hundreds of versions before we got to the final, winning formula.

What’s the culture like at In the Buff?

Henry – Great fun and really exciting! There is a constant buzz of new ideas and new successes. Nick and I work brilliantly together and bring different strengths to the business that compliment each other. We are always super-busy, but that’s not a chore when it’s ‘your baby’ that you’re looking after.

There aren’t many (if any!) protein sauces available, was it daunting taking on something that hadn’t really been done before?

Henry – Not daunting – exciting! We are proud to be a disruptor in the condiment space and are thrilled to be the first to market with this type of product.

What’s been your proudest moment so far?

Henry – When the first bottle was purchased from our website on the very first day of launch.

“It was such an incredible feeling to know that this product that we had been working so hard on for 2 years had made it to the finish line”

and was a real and tangible thing. And being able to finally shout about what we had created to the world, particularly via social media.

Where can people find your quality ketchup?

Henry – Online on our website or at a select number of retailers around Surrey and Hampshire currently, with more joining the revolution every day! We are also extremely pleased to be able to announce that In The Buff will be available from Wholefoods Market stores from August, as well as Amazon and we are busy securing lots more similar well-known retailers too.

Where do you see your business in a year?

Henry – Having a strong market lead presence nationally, across a mix of retail customers (online and physical). We also plan to build on our early penetration with gym and health centres, cafes and restaurants. We will have brought out our other new great tasting and nutritionally strong products (but for now the recipes are top secret!), as well as loads of other innovative ideas of different formats and other product categories all sitting under our In The Buff brand. We want to continue challenging the norm and the ‘usual suspects’ and bring products that we believe are ‘fit for purpose’ to the market and the needs that are not currently being satisfied.

In the Buff are certainly destined for great things, check out their website here! Have you tried their protein kecthup yet? If not, it’s time to go “au naturel”.