We recently got a chance to sit down with Danny from Insight supplements. For the last few years, Danny has been running insight supplements. Selling top quality supplement from all over the world. He has also gone on to create his own supplement line and also advise other manufactures on their recipes so they are legal in the UK.
If you are into your supplements or looking to purchase some this is a great article, with lots of information and advice. I certainly learnt leads about various ingredients and supplements. So why don’t get started with the actual interview and dive straight in?
Q: How did you get started selling supplements? What made you want to create Insight Supplements?
I think for me it was a case of the ones I was buying at that point, I started buying your more generic stuff like Myprotein and Bulk Powders and that type of stuff. I kind of figured out that I like some of the different, more American things. Then it was a case where I could get 1 maybe 2 of the brands I liked but the other stuff I had to ship directly from the states. I then started to learn more and more about them, I liked supplements, I liked what they do. Enjoy the chemistry behind it and how it all works.
Funnily enough, we actually set up a Smoothie bar first called ‘Smoothie Shack”. That was basically next to the gym that we worked at. So we were just PT’s, I had just finished university and we had no money at all. So we said, let’s set up this smoothie bar, Sell a few supplements but mostly sell smoothies. We started this in Winter, So not the best idea. It didn’t go down too well basically.
Starting Insight Supplements Continued
We gradually moved into selling Cheap, British supplements really. We looked at them and thought “These are rubbish, why are we selling these?” We contacted one brand from the states called “Run Everything Labs”. And yeah, it was weird! We just messaged them, we were just a nobody, we just messaged them and said “We want to have your brand here in the UK, it’s not here right now! What can we do?” And they didn’t ask for a minimum order, they just said order what you want, here’s your pricing and see how it goes. He was a really nice guy called Joey. He said I’ll trust you to do what you want with it, go ahead! Since then it’s doing rather well that brand.
We then got RedCon, which is as big as it is now. It just kind of grew from there and we moved out of the smoothie shop and moved into a kind of warehouse place. It just grew from there. It was mainly the fact that I think the smaller, Unique American brands that I liked you couldn’t get your hands on. So that was the primary reason behind the hit, but there are a few things that pushed us as well.
Q: Would you say there is something different between US and UK supplements? or is it that people just can’t get the US ones?
I think when we first started 100% the US ones were higher dose, strong and better branding. I think, in my personal option, I think they were better on almost every level. I do think now, however, that a lot of UK brands have moved that way and they now have better dosing, better branding and better all-around products. At the start, which was 3 years ago in February, Back then American Brands were better! 100%
Q: What’s the biggest challenge with selling overseas brands?
The shipping! People wouldn’t get how much the shipping cost because it does cost an arm and a leg. Even when you do it in bulk it’s a lot more expensive than it seems and the margins are pretty slim. I think that is something that people underestimate. A lot of new people that come into this sector think they are going to double their money or something but it just isn’t going to happen.
You have got to sell quantity to make it worthwhile doing. That is one thing we realised about a year in is are we going to make any money doing this because we didn’t take any money out of the business for nearly two years. At one point it was the case of is this viable. We were doing so much work and taking nothing out of it, it didn’t seem like the business was making any money.
“So I would say the biggest challenge is the logistics of getting it all over”
It was challenging! 100% it was! The thing is that once you reach a certain point it tends to get better from there, it’s just fighting to get to that point. However, because we didn’t have anything to lose at that point it was worth the risk. Made that risk easier to do.
So I would say the biggest challenge is the logistics of getting it all over and second, there is a lot of differences in the legality of American supplements. Getting brands to change formulas, then they want bigger orders, so there are quite a few challenges regarding that.
I think the main challenge for a lot of people, although we didn’t struggle with this as much, is just finding your customer base. I find that everyone is kind of fighting for the same people. If you can differentiate yourself slightly and do things slightly differently you can get your customer base. Which I think is a massive thing.
Q: So you get to see a lot of supplements in general, what would you say is the biggest change in supplements over the last few years?
It’s hard to say because I think realistic one category that has got a lot better is pre-workouts, but you can’t say that because at the end of the day the pre-workouts back then (Jack 3D and others that were well known) were a different style of pre-workout. Nowadays they are very much performance base. I kind of prefer the more performance-based ones. They have made a lot of steps in that direction regarding pre-workout and making them more of something you can take every day.
I also think health supplements have come a long way! Especially over the last year with COVID, a lot of good health supplements have popped up. The kind of things you wouldn’t have seen before. So before you would have seen multivitamins maybe even greens powders and a few other things, but now you are seeing more all-round things.
I think the one massive thing that has changed now I think about it is the rise in patent ingredients or trademark ingredients. I think there is a huge change in that! Before it was certain ingredients that were just ingredients, now there is a lot of trademarked ingredients that are being used. It does put the price up, but I do think it is beneficial to a certain degree. If you look now on a lot of tubs you will see something like 3 or 4 patented ingredients. Which is something you never use to see.
Q: On the subject of ingredients, for anyone who might not understand. Could you explain the difference between a Standard ingredient list and a proprietary Ingredients list?
A propriety blend is going to have a name at the top of the list. So as soon as you turn it around and look at the panel, it will have a list and either say “Proprietary Blend” or “Stem and Focus Blend” or something like that. It will list next to it the dosage of that blend. So it might say “5 Grams” and then it will list all the ingredients.
What that means is that product is a 5-gram serving but you don’t know what each dosage is. You just know that it is 5 grams and it could be split however you want between those ingredients. In fairness, I should have said that before, a big change is a move from proprietary blends to non-proprietary blends. Don’t know why I didn’t say that.
“The issue being with that is you could have one ingredient that could have 1 milligram, and it could be needing 300 milligrams in there.”
So 5 grams split between those ingredients, you don’t know how there split but they are in it. The issue being with that is you could have one ingredient that could have 1 milligram, and it could be needing 300 milligrams in there. There is no way of you knowing (Unless you get it tested). Now, with transparent formulas, it’s a case that every ingredient will be listed with how much is in it. Yes, there still could be the case where people lie about what’s in the products and could just list it on there.
I think it does bring a slight negative with the whole transparent thing that people can now copy everyone’s formulas. Which I don’t think is a bad thing for the customer, but is a bad thing for the people who are working hard to make these products and then someone just copying it. Whereas before, when it was a proprietary blend, no one knew what was in it. So it is 90% positive that it has moved to transparent but has that 10% negative.
Q: I haven’t ever looked at it like that! Companies can just copy formulas!
The thing is when you get a formula that you really, really like and you have tried it for months or years even and it works really well. Then someone comes along the next day and goes “Oh well I will do the same thing”. So it does have its negatives but I think it (Non-Proprietary Blend) is mainly a positive thing.
Q: What would you say the difference between the likes of MyProtein and Bulk Powders and the Companies you supply?
I think the main thing is higher dosages of things you want to see. How I look at it is you could get a product from a certain company for £20 for 30 servings. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. Let’s say a pre-workout, there is nothing wrong with buying a cheap product. As long as it has caffeine in, as long as it has a few of the things that are going to stimulate you are going to feel the energy and get what you want from it.
The issue being is when you want to have more of a focus or have better endurance, have a better pump certain ingredients need to be hit. now with stimulants, I don’t think it’s as necessary but with other things where they have been tested and need to be at a certain level to scientifically work. That is where you will be lacking. You might have a pre-workout for £20, it might have the right amount of caffeine so you are going to feel it. the issue is the rest of the ingredients might be slightly under dosed or mega underdose. It can depend on which product.
I think the issue is that those ingredients are only going to work when you hit the right dosage. It’s kind of like taking paracetamol at half the dose. Paracetamol has been structured at 500mg because that will help relieve your pain. Why would you take half of it? It is the same with supplements. What I am trying to say is that unless you are hitting the correct dosages it is more or less pointless.
It’s the same with multivitamins. People ask me what the difference between a multivitamin in the supermarket and one in our stock for example. The difference is there realistically, yes you can get a £3 multivitamin from Asda, but there is no point. You may have well spent that £3 on a sausage roll, It’s a very expensive sausage roll! Unless it’s sitting to correct dosage it doesn’t make sense to do it. So that is why I think people look and go “Ok, but it is so much more expensive”. Yes! But it is doing what it is meant to do. The premium products don’t have more margin even. It’s not that because it’s a premium product we are going to charge more money, we have to because it cost more to make.
I would say proteins are a little bit different. My ethos on protein is that a protein is a protein. As long as you trust the brand to put what they say is in there. I don’t see a whole of difference. For example, we do some American protein that comes in at £34.99 for 30 servings. Which is expensive for a protein. However, now we have got in Per4m whey, which is our best selling whey. Yes, it’s slightly less quality because it is a milk skimmed protein rather than being a pure whey protein or isolate. So it isn’t “as good” but for £34.99 for 67 servings, It’s worth it. You are getting almost double.
Q: When people ask me what Pre Workout they should get, I always say MVPre!
Do you know what MVPre was a weird one for use because the MVPre we sell now is the MVPre 2.0. MVPre the original, when we first got it in, I think it was technically illegal. So we got it in in very small quantities. We thought we would be fine with it. We sold that just around our local gyms and places like that and at first, it didn’t do very well at all! It sat on our shelves for a while. I think in the end we sent a tub to TMCylces (Interview Here) and he liked it. This is where the issue then arose because we got this product we knew shouldn’t be there, what do we do now? It’s starting to sell well but we need to change it because if it goes mass market then we have a bit of an issue.
So we went to them and said “Listen, we need to change this, we need to get the same effect but by taking that ingredient out” and they were like “I think that is going to be hard to do because of that ingredient that’s needed”. So we sat down, I was actually sat in my car outside my Mum and Dads house, still living with my mum and dad at this point, spoke to Chris at info Farm, he said put together a formula and we will test it. So we all sat down together and came up with this formula, which looked ok, I didn’t think it would be as good as it was.
He sent us over a sample, and when he sent over a sample to try he said “Just so you know, I don’t think it is that great”. We were like “F***!” We didn’t know what to do, if we didn’t get it right we couldn’t re-release it worse than it was! We got it and we tried it and 1. It was delicious, which he said it wasn’t! 2. The effects were fantastic, it was better than the first one in our opinion. We absolutely loved it! The feeling you get from it, the euphoria, the confidence!
One thing for me is I will go away from MVPre and use something else and then I think why is MVPre selling so well! It’s not that good! Then you go back to it and for me, it’s the confidence you get. I feel very, very confident! I am lifting these weights no matter what and that’s the main difference for me. it’s going to be different for everyone but for me, it’s weird to think a product can give you so much confidence. It’s really odd!
I don’t know how we nailed it on the first attempt but we did. It’s been our best selling product for around 2.5 years now.
Q: I swapped from MVPre to Ghost Legend, I like the Ghost protein so thought i would try their Pre workout. It is goo but not like MVPre
I think the thing with Ghost is that they are trying to appeal to a mass market. They are doing a fantastic job and there is no denying what they have done in the industry. However, out of all the products they do, I do think the pre-workout is the worse one.
Q: I have got their nootropic (Ghost Gamer). We just done a review, i can see why people love them!
Yeah, we tried gamer a few time. I think it is decent. it is subtle though. I think other ones are a bit more “sharper”. Overall, their products are on point! The flavours are always great.
Q: Their branding is on point as well!
I have seen a few of their videos about building their brand and it’s intriguing how the two guys do it. They very much know what they want and they knew what they were doing the moment they set out with that brand. They nailed it and nailed the concept and to keep that consistency with it, even when they do new things it’s always very consistent.
Q: They are also very particular about the people they endorse.
Exactly! I think they probably started that, well, not started it but made a huge impact with brands working with influencers in the way they did. It has been similar with us. We wouldn’t be anywhere without them. The people we choose are probably the best choices we made.
Q: What i like about you choosing influencers and a brand like Ghost for example, is you have such a wide selection of products from brand that when someone recommends a certain protein, they actually enjoy!
You’re right! I think it is something we set out to do! The minute we took on the first person, which was Jack Thornburn. We said to him, “Listen, we don’t want you to go and say something if you don’t want to say it.” So there are no contracts where you got to go talk about a product three times a week or push this product. It’s just if you want to go talk about it, go talk about it! If you want to go say a product is bad, do it! it only makes when you like a product more believable.
I think that is how it should be! I have had athletes come on board and they would have been with other companies before, big corporate companies. They will be like “oh so you don’t want us to do this or that”. I am like “Listen, you do you! Do what you want to do! Just push products you like”. I wouldn’t want them to push products they don’t like. I mean, We have 500+ products, there is always going to be something you don’t like. Please go on and say “I don’t like this because I hate the taste or it’s too strong”.
Q: Taste is a big thing! Just because someone doesn’t like a flavour doesn’t mean you won’t or it’s a bad product!
Yeah, it is a preference thing and it always will be a preference thing! Even with products and dosages and ingredients. you might like 2g of tyrosine and I might not like Tyrosine at all. So the issue is if you try that product you might love it and I hate it. There is no product for everyone. The only product we found that most people like is MVPre. There is still a 5% of people who it might be too strong for, or doesn’t hit them properly.
We have had people come into our store before and say “I can’t feel that pre-workout at all”. We are like “Really?” There’s nothing wrong with those people it’s just everybody is so different!
Q: So, speaking of nootropics, I have seen Foresight Nutrition! How did that all come around? The brand and the products?
So basically with Foresight, the more I liked products the more I looked into ingredients and stuff like that. It’s something we have always wanted to have to our brand or something we thought about doing. I love ingredients, it’s something I love, it’s just something I have fallen in love with doing. We just said you know what, let’s just give me a playground, to do what I want with them. If it turns into products that are fantastic and we make a brand and go worldwide then amazing. If it’s just a case that we put a bit of money into the side and sell a few a week or whatever but we get to use the products that we designed.
So basically decided to do it! We kind of rushed it! We rushed the branding side of it. The first lot of branding wasn’t good at all. We rushed it a lot. That is one mistake we make. However, with the formula, we always made sure they were right. We thought, even if it doesn’t look that great least we got the formulas right.
“From there it went well but we realised that we were missing the branding side of things.”
So we started with the Sleep aid that we thought was a bit different, everyone was coming out with pre’s let us do something different. From there on I just sat and made formulas, we thought “right ok, we got a bit of money, let’s put that into a formula”. From there it went well but we realised that we were missing the branding side of things. People that tried the product liked them, but the issue is they didn’t come to the product that much because it looked boring. So we got in touch with some graphic designers, didn’t have any ideas on what we wanted to do but spoke to these guys and they were fantastic. Cost a lot of money really, a lot more than I thought it would but it was 100% worth it. Now we are seeing the reward from that.
Foresight Refocus Development….
Foresight is now becoming one of our better selling brands! It’s a massive step. I think when it came to refocus we wanted a nootropic that we could take in the morning when we were packing orders and it just made everything go quicker and got work done more consistently. So I started putting together a formula and came up with a formula that I thought would be good. it was quite an expensive formula because it had a few trademark ingredients. We struggled to get the flavour right. now, I am picky with flavour but Shaz is double as picky with flavour! Like the pickiest guy you will ever meet. We got to the point where I and a guy who works here sat down and said “that flavour is bang on” but Shaz wasn’t having any of it.
So we carried on, we had something like 36 samples to get this right. Which I imagine for the manufacture was pretty annoying. In the end, he was right to push that far with the flavour because the flavour of the grape is just fantastic! It was a product where we nailed the formula and the effects from the get-go, we could have released it on the first sample! It was just getting the flavour right! Nootropics are very earthy, and it’s very hard to mask!
“So we carried on, we had something like 36 samples to get this right.”
So you either have to put in a lot of flavouring or you have to kind of develop the formula around the flavour. Which is a hard thing to do and people don’t think happens. So one thing people might not know is Citrulline Malate is quite sour! So if you are making a sour base flavour, if you just put in normal L-Citrulline, which yes people prefer to see, it’s a lot harder to bring that sour aspect in. Whereas you can get naturally sour aspect from the Malate acid in it. So there are a few different ways of doing it. Foresight is a huge passion of ours and especially of mine with the formula side of things. There is a lot of big things to come!
Q: What kind of plans do you have for the future of it?
So recently we did the rebranding, it’s all doing a lot better. We got it into a distributor who is putting it into all of their stores. Our recent sellers have done well! So our Carb formula has done well, and our all in one health formula Revitalise has done well. The thing with Revitalise that I love is that it’s not something that was done before, and if it was it wasn’t done much! That’s having something that’s an all in one drink in the morning (Doesn’t have to be in the morning but I prefer to take it in the morning) where you are getting your vitamins and your minerals, you are getting the majority of aspects of health covered, even getting some help with your mood and calming your mood, you are getting some help with your hydration.
The idea was you would take that and know you have covered all these bases. Yes, it is very hard to flavour vitamins and minerals, that is why a lot of them are in capsules. But all in all, once we figured out the flavouring, the flavour for what it is and what is in it is fantastic. So I like that it was slightly different.
Future Releases Continued…….
So the idea with the next few releases is we are going to have a Pre coming out. The Pre side of things is going to be the Refocus side of things but with more stimulants. People were taking Refocus like a pre! Josh Bridgeman really like taking it as a Pre, which makes everyone else take it as a pre, which it wasn’t designed to be doing. Which kind of led us to think if people like it as a Pre, why don’t we have that focus aspect formula but add in some more stimulants.
We also have a pump formula almost good to go as well and we also have a formula that I have designed which is very different. I have tried to do a different category again. I don’t know if it will work. It’s not 100% ready but it is something very different. What I will say is it is kind of an all in one recovery product. It’s not going to feature protein and not going to feature carbs, it’s very different! On paper, it looks like it should work but we are going to have to test it for a good few weeks or so.
Q: I look forwards to the pump formula! I am a big Pump formula fan!
Do you like one with a bit of nootropics in there as well?
Q: Yeah, love the focus and pump but keep the caffeine down to a minimum.
I’m exactly the same, I don’t take stimulate Pre’s anymore. I think the only time I do is if we are testing a product. For me now I much prefer your non-stims with a nootropics. I think it feels better. To be honest with you I have realised that when I was on caffeine all the time, energy drinks, pre-workouts and nootropics, you just feel s***.
Q: Especially when you then bring that caffeine content down
Exactly! Now I don’t touch a single energy drink! I might have a coffee. To me it seems more beneficial, I find you get the good bits but you also get the bad bits. People don’t realise how hooked they are on caffeine.
I think people associated caffeine with something in everyday life that should be there. It’s not something they are adding in, it’s their daily thing. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing though. I think people are realising that we have seen an increase in non-stim pre’s. It’s definitely a trend to come off caffeine which is a good thing.
Q: If you had to chose a Protein, a Pre Workout and a Wild card, what would you recommend?
I would go Super Human Pump from Alpha Lion for my non-stim pre. Protein, if I am honest, I normally take MRE Lite from RedCon, or a Vegan one because whey doesn’t sit well with me at all. If I had to choose from that it would be MRE Lite. I think it’s fantastic, for the people that don’t know what that is. it is an animal-based protein without dairy. So it’s basically eggs, salmon, Beef, Chicken and Rice. It sounds Vile but it tasted unbelievable for what it is. That would be my protein. If I was going for dairy I would go for either ISO surge Mint Chocolate Chip or Perform Whey Brownie Batter.
Then the wild card would probably be Revitalise. I am going to be biased. I just think it covers the majority of things you need. so I would go for that.
Q: I like the sound of Revitalise, and all in one drink in the morning.
It was quite expensive when we first started and doing smaller volumes. So the price for 25 servings is around £31.99, however, we have now brought in a 60 serving tub so you are getting more than double the servings for I think £49.99. So you are paying an extra £18 for over double the servings. So the idea is they buy the smaller one to see if they like it and then buy the bigger one if they do. Definitely give it a try.
Q:You mentioned price, do you think price dictates how well a product sells or do you think people buy certain products no matter what the price is?
I would say it is very individual on products. I think protein definitely comes down to price more. But let’s say pre-workouts, anything above £40 is where you kind of hit a stumbling block, but anything up to £40 you are normally ok with. There are some that do sell ok at £40+. I think it just depends! There is a level on price vs how good it is. So you can charge for if people go “WOW that’s insane”. I think the struggle is to go above 40 when the results are very average. Not even average, but average for a product you see on our site.
I do think price does dictate quite a bit but I think the more and more people are becoming educated they can see what it’s worth. They can see something is worth that money and pay it. before it was a case of “that’s just too much”. Even if it’s worth that much. People are coming to grips with formulas and how much it is to make.
“You need a veterinarian surgeon to sign of, so you can have a health certificate to sell dairy.”
I do think with protein and health supplements and creatine there is a price limitation on how high you can go. We have found that since the Perform Whey has been doing so well, a lot of the American products have suffered. Just because they are so expensive to import. If you imagine how heavy a protein tub is. it’s Crazy!
One of the first things you asked me is one of the biggest stumbling blocks we had. Importing Protein is so hard! Importing protein, we basically decided about 6 months in we can’t do it. Because it’s basically Dairy, you need a veterinarian surgeon to sign of, so you can have a health certificate to sell dairy. it’s like if you are importing milk or cheese. It’s food.
You have got to be very careful how it is manufactured. It could give people food poisoning. You have to be very good with documents and numbers to import these things. You get one number wrong on a temperature or something and they will send it back. The moment they see the words protein or whey they will literally look at it in every little detail. it’s the weirdest thing because you can get illegal pre-workouts through the door that could kill someone, but you can’t get protein in.
Q: Thanks for coming on! it is something different. I have learnt lot and been really informative.
I really hope it has! When I do these things I always think am I talking s***. I love to talk, I talk a hell of a lot. hopefully, some of the questions I have answered have helped somebody. Whether it is someone looking to buy a product or someone looking to start a business if I can help someone in some way that’s me done. I am happy!
The thing with me and insight is we are so open. I think people are a bit shocked at how open we are. you will find me helping competitive stores out. It’s very bizarre how it works but I just love what I do! it is what it is.
So there you have it! All the information you need about all the supplements! I want to thanks Danny from insight Supplements for spending the time to chat with us. Was great and Personally, I learnt so much. If you want to get in touch with Danny or purchase any supplements from insight Supplements you can find all their links below:
Insight Supplements Links:
If you enjoyed this interview with Insight Supplements, please feel free to check out our other interviews here. We are starting to build a catalogue of interviews with many more in the pipeline soon to be released! Is there anyone who you would like us to interview? Drop us a message on our Instagram or tag us in one of their posts! We want to build a collection of Interviews from everyone and anyone in the fitness and health Industry.
Written by Kieran Blacker
Kieran is the CEO and Founder of Sets & Reps. He decided to make an application that helped people get a gym workout when not at the gym. He designed, Coded and built the application himself.