Mark Helvadjian founded and created SCRUBD an all-natural grooming products specifically for men including their GQ Award winning Face Serum.
SCRUBD is made in England sourced from all-natural extracts, vitamins, botanicals, and essential oils that works naturally for men with no nasty chemicals present.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual moment to start Scrubd?
It was a lightbulb moment absolutely.I’m a self-styled ‘soap enthusiast’ and it was the moment I realised I could not find a really premium all natural bar of soap - so I decided to make one myself! This is how the SCRUBD brand started - it all began with my love for soap and my determination to make a better one than anyone else.
How did you get your first three customers?
Following the creation of batch number 1 (our first soaps - picture included) i then went to friends and family to test them!
I didn't ask for any money in return - just lots and lots of feedback on their use and feel, smell and shape etc.
How did you validate the idea?
Through the family and friends test! They gave me all the feedback I needed to really perfect the bar of soaps we see today. When i look back at the early soaps (still keep a few in office) and look at the imagery - it seems so long ago - but it was only 3 years back! We’ve come so far since then but really does feel an age ago! Happy exciting times.
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
Ha ha none! I came from a completely different background! BUT i had passion aplenty, a genuine interest in the product and put my creativity to work to create something really special.
I will never forget seeing the first SCRUBD soaps come off the production line at our factory - was just awesome. Once the soaps were perfected then came the skincare - I spent an age on those formulas and am really proud of them. Again this was based on what I wanted to see - rather than industry experience
Have you raised any money? How much?
I didn’t do a raise no. I put most of the money in and my family have also contributed to the brands growth story. I have had talks with investors over the life of the brand so far, but nothing has quite been a fit so far. I’ve put considerable effort and six figure sums into the business, and for me it’s more than just the money, it’s about securing the future of the brand with the right retail, wholesale and distribution partners, and above all, making sure our customers think of us as we would wish them to.
What regulatory approvals did you have to go through?
Too many to mention here! Obviously when you are designing a soap and skincare range from scratch there are tons of regulatory and legislative requirements, we are also lucky we have 2 fabulous partners who make our product. Both brilliantly run family businesses - our skincare is made just outside York and our soaps in a gorgeous artisanal factory in the East Sussex Countryside. Working with such experienced partners from the get go made sure we kept safe and on track.
Who is your target demographic?
We tend to see a profile of guys from 25 years upwards. We have two distinct skin care ranges, our energising range, now in awesome eco-friendly sugar cane tubes, and our premium Anti-Ageing range, our serum in this range won a GQ award for best anti-ageing innovation which we are super proud of.
The 2 ranges tend to see some age segmentation between them. We do have quite a high number of female customers too, and we know that some are buying for themselves! There is no reason why any of our products can’t be used by men or women - they are all natural and produce amazing results!
What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?
Ha! We love the banter we have with our customers, either on our social channels or direct via our customer contact - but that’s between us!
How did you fund the idea initially?
As said above, funded mainly by me and a few of the family chipped in too!
Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team?
Charles Davies and I met when we were both working at Yahoo. It was just the 2 of us in the early days, working out of our St. Albans base. These days I have become founder and Chair, Charles remains a board director and
we brought in a retailer back in March 2019 - Darren Williams has a background in retail and hospitality and some key brand growth stories, he became our Interim CEO in April of this year, just as lockdown hit!
Did you run any companies prior?
Yes, I founded and successfully exited,Shipping Easy, the worlds largest online fulfillment platform. I love tech and this was a great time for me. Hard work but very rewarding.
What motivated you to start your own business?
The buzz and excitement of creation. Seeing an idea you have take shape, and come to life is never boring to me. I am always full of ideas and often share my latest thoughts with Darren and Charles
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
One sentence - here he goes again!
Any tips for finding first employees?
Easy - choose passion and commitment first up. Every time.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
We’ve had lots of bumps in the road and surely still more to navigate. But my advice is always sense check the path you are on and keep your eye on the end goal.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
Be ready for anything. Be clear on your purpose and your brand identity and what you stand for - and protect that fiercely. And think carefully about your partners, don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it doesn’t feel right for your brand or future business direction.
What has driven the most sales?
Email marketing by far, we love our social channels but targeted emails talking to our customers about products they like is a winner for us. We are very lucky to have a loyal customer base and our ATV and conversion is very strong - we are really grateful for that.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
The current uncertainty in the world. We’ve landed 6 markets since April 2019, we’ve talked to retailers and customers about our range, which is about to re-launch, and we have a great team and even a new HQ, but the current global pandemic and the unknown beyond it is making retailers cautious - we get that totally.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Understand it, and EMBRACE it - we can all co-exist together and learn from each other
Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?
We sure do! We trademarked our brand of course and own the IP for all of our amazing formulas - this was important right from the get-go.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
- Metrilo - awesome CRM tool
- Veeqo - managing stock and sales
- Buffer - our social media management tool
They run different parts of our business, from how we talk to our customers, to the day to day operations, and the way we project our brand on social.
What are your favourite books?
Blue Ocean Strategy - would recommend this to anyone starting out! It’s an awesome read.
What are the next products you’re working on?
We’d love to increase our bodycare range to include potentially gels or shampoos - currently in product testing and development! If/when we do launch we’ll try it as a scrubd.com exclusive first - our customer base is always vocal with us and we enjoy some pretty stellar reviews.
Are there any releases you can tell us about?
Yes! Check out our completely re-designed range of skincare launching early August! Same great formulas inside redesigned packaging. More eco, more user friendly, and super slick - we think our customers are going to love it and we’ve already had awesome feedback from retailers. We’ve also got a brilliant range of gifting coming for Christmas - it’s looking awesome!
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
Extend the range and our market reach. A truly global brand with a larger team making it happen. A bigger SCRUBD enables us to hire more people and create new opportunities for passionate people.
What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing..
We haven't made a 7 figure number yet - but we are determined to get there - it’s about market reach and brand penetration as well of course, and in that sense we are making good progress.
Would you ever sell?
Yes! We’ve had some talks, but now is not the time, we are really onto something here, and with our new look range, increased markets and top team in place, right now we are focused on growth, rather than exit. But one day - yes of course we would look at it - provided the potential buyer had the best interests of the brand at heart and the ability to grow it that’s true to its roots.