Smarta / Breakthrough 50 talk: “Shaa Wasmund & Al Gosling on building a fast growth business”


Wednesday 9th April 2014, Google Campus, London.

Recently attended yet another evening talk put on by Smarta, this time hosted at Google Campus, near Shoreditch in London. The keynote speakers for tonight’s event were Al Gosling, the founder of the Extreme sports channel, and the founder of Smarta herself – Shaa Wasmund. On the panel, they were joined by three others: Jo Bertram, General Manager of Uber Technologies London, Amit Pau, Exec Director of Ariadne Capital and also Director of entrepreneur Country, and also Greg Duggan, the co-founder of WheyHey the protein ice-cream.

This was a fantastic speaker panel. I was particularly interested to see and hear from Al Gosling, since I grew up watching mountain biking, snow sports and skateboarding on the Extreme Sports channel!

Each member of the panel introduced themselves and spent 5-10minutes giving their background story and telling a little of the tale of how they built their respective businesses, and in some cases empires! Some of my notes from the evening are jotted below…

WheyHey ice-cream was started in Greg’s flat with friends some 2 years ago. They identified an opportunity for a new ice-cream based product in the booming protein food and supplements market. This really is quite clever – their ice-cream is sugar free and also high in protein – so makes for a healthy diet supplement or post-workout snack, surely better than gallon after gallon of boring protein shake?!

WheyHey are currently pushing to go big in exports.

A great question came from someone in the audience – “When was the tipping point – the moment when you knew you were about to go into some serious growth?”

Al Gosling responded by recalling the time he launched his channel first in Holland, back in 1999. After that, all other countries and broadcasters began to call him up and ask for his channel – that when he knew he was onto something big!

Next WheyHey product: “the WheyHey PushUp” – a push-up frozen lolly (with added protein of course). “We’re a healthy frozen desert – we won’t ever go into powder, bars etc. – that would weaken our position (our core proposition and differentiation).”

Uber – just launched in both Manchester and Dublin. Biggest bottleneck / barrier to growth faced so far – “management bandwidth” and the ability to manage new locations, employees, resources etc.

Amit: “make sure you have a really good finance person, and know your P&L and cash flow basics. Stay focused. Rely on allies.”

Al: “every idea I ever have – I email to myself. They (all) get collected in a folder called ‘crazy ideas’, when I get time, I visit them, then bring them to the table in front of the team…”

“If you wait ‘till you’re ready – you’ll never be ready!”

WheyHey – we were blogging for ~6 months before our product was even launched.

Amit: “look up ‘Maker Studios’ on – a great disruption and success story!

“Everyone will be looking for proof of concept.”

“Go global, but be local!”