Business Leader recently spoke to Martyn Cook – a prolific entrepreneur, speaker, investor, influencer and bio-hacking enthusiast – to discuss how vital social media and commerce can be key tools for successful entrepreneurs.
Can you give me an overview of your history as an entrepreneur?
It was quite a long time ago I started my first business- Personal Visual. Basically, that business created all kinds of graphics so we made menus, business cards, flyers and also video ads. I was also a DJ by night so a lot of my clients were night clubs creating flyers, posters and video ads for their screens. At the same time I was keeping an eye on things that were round, so back in the day in 2007 I stumbled across a Facebook group.
These groups were talking about buying and selling Facebook pages before the FB edgerank algorithm came in which throttled the who sees posts from FB pages. And I thought that is interesting, because it was so easy to talk to lots of people and build FB pages. You could just post on a large page and get people to like a page, besides the pressure was not particularly high so just a FB page with a funny name was enough to get any fan. There were lots of pages around and a lot of people were doing it.
The price was not very high. It just occurred to me that if you can speak to that many people, if you got something to sell and if you can influence that many people. A large soapbox is power, I had no idea what I might sell or do but having a lot of eyeballs and the attention of a lot of people was powerful. I basically started channelling every spare penny I had into buying FB pages, tons of deals with loads of people transferring money via paypal etc. I got scammed a few times but for most of the part people were honest. I bought FB pages and acquired nearly 20 million fans across those FB pages and that naturally led me to jumping into software business.
You then moved into the world of e-commerce – can you tell me about your time in that sector?
I was in a situation where I had a lot of attention, there was a lot of people I could speak to but nothing to really sell them. I first experimented with affiliate products so I was recommending other people’s products through the various pages, ones which were applicable to the interest of the pages and that led to Teespring which was a site, which was a semi-affiliate thing so that led into the world of e-commerce.
To date I have launched 5or 6 different e-commerce brands, so launched, scaled, exited, some more successfully than others. The most recent success was a brand called Youstatement.com which is still going, I sold back in 2018 that did a million dollars in its first 90 days. I was doing everything really behind the brand, I was running the ads, so it was just really very exciting the kind of things you can do with an e-commerce.
That gave birth to my love of e-commerce and just be impact with the number of people you can reach with it. But that brand is leggings brand, and I wasn’t interested in leggings particularly I don’t wear them it. I didn’t understand why leggings what value selling leggings brought to the customer. I wanted to move to something I knew what the value was! Which is why I founded Noobru.
You have also founded a business within the software industry – why the change, and what success did you have?
Led me into needing to somehow manage those FB pages and get posts out onto those pages. So the first software that we built basically what Huitesuite is nowadays, but it was before Huitesuite, a way of posting content onto the pages to keep them kind of active.
I basically started looking on website called code canyon, where I found Victor my business partner and the software development company called DevJelly. And he basically was an app developer, and I bought one of his apps (which was like a FB quiz app) and requested him some changes. We did a few other gigs here and there and that eventually led to us meeting up. And eventually even further down the line, led to us finding a business together which still exists. We have got a team of developers, we are looking to scale that up and they are working on number of things for Noobru at the moment.
I founded Noobru because I had a long seated passion for Nootropics and getting more out of the same input. The benefits were tangible, so it’s conceivable anybody if their brain works a little bit better they will have greater success of whatever it is they are trying to achieve. It might be they are sports people, they win more even if they perform one percent better in a team of ten or eleven. Everone in their team is performing one percent better, that’s the difference between winning and loosing a match ad that’s the difference between a championship and coming second.
That’s just in sports. It is so applicable to anything, anything that you want to achieve. So if your brain’s working a little bit better you more likely to achieve it. So, it was a real perfect fit, the love of e-commerce, love of nootropics, efficiency and the missing piece was the charity component because I didn’t want to help a large chunk of the world who already have their basic nutrition in check perform a little bit better whilst leaving the world that cannot afford behind so the charity component with Project healthy children fortifies the meals of a child for a year with every purchase.
Our smallest product feeds 1.2 children for a year, or fortifies their food for a year. We are tackling the amount of nutrition problem so for every customer that we help become a superior human by their brain working better we help someone that’s below that threshold line of basic nutrition get closer to that line. So the net result is the world has a whole levels up from a nutrition, vitamin and performance point of view.
What are the future plans for the company and yourself as an entrepreneur?
There is a tremendous amount of potential with the company, there’s billions of humans on earth and our goal is to fortify over billion meals by 2025. Our work is more than cut out there, we have done more than five hundred thousand meals so far since launch in January 2020. So that’s going to keep me very busy, there’s new products coming out which have different effects.
The nootropic can be applied to a lot of different things, nootropic space can apply to being more creative – improving your memory recall, performance, motivation, endurance and all of the stuff applies to different nootropic space. We have got a bunch of products lined up, that might help – For instance, improving your brain whilst you sleep or having a restful sleep where brain is naturally benefitting, becoming healthier, improving memory overtime, reducing anxiety overtime, increasing creativity overtime, so there are a lot of products planned. A really exciting journey for the company.
What advice would you give to someone starting their entrepreneurial journey?
For me it’s always been work really hard. It might sound as a cliché but I have always been willing to harder than anybody else. In my younger years I had multiple jobs, there was a time I was working 9 to 5 and then I was working four nights a week in a nightclub. I was putting in 80-100 hours a week. Initially my goal was to just make a thousand pounds for every year of age I was, so when I was 18 make 18grand a year or when I was 25 make 25 grand a year.
I’d began to leave that target in the dust and had to reset my targets but it was just about working hard. That is big for an entrepreneurial journey, you are going to get kicked several times and pushed down so many times but if you have that end goal in mind which is the life that most people only dream of whatever that is for you. So that’s your carrot that you are chasing, you just have the desire to do things differently and you are questioning the status quo on why people act the way they do.
Like why we have to have our lunch here, or why bosses insist we are most productive between 9-5 and all of the rest of the stuff, potentially entrepreneurial life is for you. You just need to be working hard, working smart and always trying to improve yourself through learning, connection and being efficient. For me that’s life hacking, personal development and networking. On the networking site that’s why the smarter destiny podcast exists where I use that podcast, a lot of partnerships have come from that!
What advice would you give to someone looking to exit their company that they set up?
My advice would be – Realise that you need to start planning for that exit very early on so you need to build up your company. Make your company attractive to someone who is buying, so it needs to be on an uptrend. You need to make sure that there is nothing scary that they going to uncover when they do their duedligence, so you need to make sure the books are in order, legalities are in order, your contracts with your employees and customers are in order.
You need to ensure that your company is looking good. As a minimum I would start that sales process six months out from when you actually publicly say that you are trying to sell. You want to sell at a high point. It’s actually not easy, expect a lot of disappointment as well in the process. Actually in one of the podcasts, I interviewed guy – Moise Alley, he was the founder of Native natural deodorant company, they exited for over a hundred million dollars and he sold to Proctor & Gamble. In the interview I go deep into his emotion when he is going through that sales processing, that was their first acquisition in 10 years, a great interview to listen to.