Gemma Pond is the Founder of the naturally infused water brand no&more which is stocked in Waitrose, Boots, Ocado as well as across Europe.
No&more is free from sugar, sweeteners, calories and preservatives. It’s unique USP is what allowed Gemma to get her idea in front of key buyers for some of the UK’s most renowned stores.
A former successful property developer, founded no&more in 2014 after spotting a gap in the market for a truly healthy drink alternative to plain water.
WeAreTheCity.com caught up with Gemma to find out how she managed to break into an industry where she had no contacts, and no prior experience. Here she tells us all:
I’ve always been interested in health and wellbeing – for me, it’s a bit like a hobby and something I truly love. But until 2014, that’s all it was; a hobby. The summer of that year is when everything changed, and I decided to take matters into my own hands. Whenever I was out with my family or friends I’d sometimes fancy a drink that wasn’t necessarily just plain water; but there wasn’t anything on the market that didn’t have hidden sugars or preservatives. This is when I had my epiphany moment. I wanted to create a truly transparent product that people could trust.
For me, there is nothing more motivating than being told that what I wanted to achieve was impossible. That was the general response that I first got from people when I told them about my idea for no&more which just made me more and more determined.
Property is obviously a world away from the fierce drinks industry. However, it’s fair to say it taught me not to take anything personally, as there’s no airs and graces in the property world. When walking into meetings to pitch your brand, you need to have a hard exterior, as the people who you’re meeting have usually studied in the area you want to break into or have years of experience in it. They will grill you in meetings, so you need to have passion and a good poker face to look as though you know everything that they’re talking about. (The googling of terms came after the meetings on many occasion).
It took a lot of hard work, determination and research to crack the initial stages of meeting with the buyers. I would spend nights trawling the internet, looking for the right names of contacts, and then working out their email format in the hope that I might land into the right persons inbox. I didn’t have any contacts in the industry, so there were no quick wins. We inundated people with our product, hounded them with calls and emails, and eventually they were willing to meet us. It was around a similar time that the sugar tax debate exploded which meant that it was almost like pushing against an open door, we’d struck gold with our proposition. Buyers were looking for a true innovative product with a no sugar for their shelves, so were open to listening to us, and what we had to say, and in turn buying our product.
But of course, it wasn’t all luck and being in the right place at the right time. The hardest part was finding a location that could make our product and after endlessly touring the UK and Europe to find a natural spring it became apparent this was a very niche field.
We eventually finally found the spring in France, where that had the expertise that we needed.
It’s safe to say that entering a new industry is challenging but once you crack it, it’s the greatest sense of achievement. So, if you have something unique – I urge you to follow your gut and get hounding!