JULIAN HEARN deals in what looks like the food of the future. Eight million people all over the world have bought Huel – a powdered food that Julian says contains all the proteins, carbs, fats vitamins and minerals you need. Julian is an internet entrepreneur, marketer and dad from Aylesbury, Bucks. He launched Huel with £250,000 of his own money two years ago.
How did you start out?
I have a picture of me at eight selling Mum’s plants from a stall at the front of the house. I had a paper round at 13. I saved up and bought a racing bike. I believe working at a young age and saving for things made me appreciate money.
My first real business started at 37 when I’d had enough of the three-hour daily London commute. I met some guys who had made a lot of money online and thought they were no brighter than me. I spent the next 12 months reading and learning. I gave up my full-time job and within three months I was earning more than my salary.
What have been the best memories along the way?
The successful sale of my previous company to an American business in 2011 was a big achievement. But what we are doing at Huel is a magnitude bigger. This year in total we will do over £16million in revenue. But the most fulfilling achievement is the unbelievable engagement from our loyal customers. We love them and they seem to love us. Plus, we are making a real difference to the planet: zero food waste, no animals killed, minimal packaging waste.
Working at a startup is very tough, you have to problem-solve every day because you are carving out a new path that hasn’t been trodden before. I’ve made many mistakes. The key is not to dwell on them, just fix the problem, move on and don’t make the same mistake twice.
What advice would you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Just do it. It’s hard, very hard, but it’s also very, very rewarding. Nothing beats knowing you made it yourself. Speed is the biggest advantage you have over big companies who have more money, more staff, and more experience.
So be scrappy; perfect is the enemy of good enough. It takes willpower and stubbornness. The key is to make things happen. Run each decision several moves ahead in your head, then execute – like a good chess player.
What have been your best investments?
Brand and people, I spent more on the original Huel logo and URL than I normally would but it was well worth it. Plus the investment is people, we have an amazing team, they are core to our success and I believe we can, and do, beat much bigger companies due to the team.
Your biggest financial regret?
Recruiting the wrong people. Especially when they have long notice periods, and I had doubts during the recruitment process. Always go with your gut feeling.
Are you a saver or spender?
I’m a saver, but I certainly seem to be able to spend a good chunk of money. Having said that I have invested wisely, spent wisely and have made money with my money.
Are you savvy with personal finances?
Yes. I’ve never owned a personal credit card and never will.
What’s your latest impulse buy?
A new blazer and jeans. Not designer.
Cash or card?
Both, but lately I’m trying to use a card to stop have to carry change.
Borrow or lend?
I try to avoid both. I like to keep it simple, make money, and spend no more than you make.