I grew up on Churchill Street, in a suburb of a South African industrial city by the sea called Port Elizabeth. Up the road from me lived Stanley Bergman, now Chairman & CEO of Henry Schein, a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest provider of healthcare based in NYC. On the street parallel to me lived Sir Mick Davis, who was, until the merger with Glencore, CEO of Xstrata, which he grew into a company with a market valuation of $60bn. On my street, a few houses down, lived Colin Sapire, founder of NutriBullet, who now lives in Pacific Palisades, California.
On the surface, growing up in sunny Port Elizabeth should have been idyllic. But just up the road, some of the worst racial atrocities – now the legacy of apartheid – were taking place. As a consequence, South Africa experienced a ‘brain drain’, where some of the greatest talent left to live all over the world. Interestingly, Stanley, Mick and Colin all qualified as accountants in South Africa before emigrating. In addition, as successful as they are, they also play a huge part in ‘giving back’ in one way or another.
I caught up with Colin, to talk to him about how NutriBullet began and where it is today. Colin needed a job when he landed in California in 2003, and he became CFO of a company that made infomercials – something, thank goodness, that never caught on in the UK. In addition, Colin has always been into healthy living and running marathons. So, in his kitchen, with fruit, vegetables and superfoods, he began to experiment and the NutriBullet was born. Since the first infomercial, it has had over $250m worth of airtime. Mind boggling numbers! It was with ease, therefore, that there was enough interest a year later in 2004, for the company to begin distribution in major US retailers including Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond, all still customers today.
The NutriBullet’s key selling point is that it is not a blender but a nutrition extractor. It is capable of pulverising all elements of fruit and vegetables, so nothing is wasted. This differentiates it from both traditional blenders and juicers. The other feature that has ensured NutriBullet’s longevity is the ease it provides when preparing smoothies and cleaning up afterwards. The design simplifies blending with an upsidown structure and single attachment, making it quick and efficient to use and clean. This design ingenuity can certainly – at least in part – be credited for the loyal following the NutriBullet has inspired.
Now a global phenomenon, with a number of sizes and styles, Colin’s company remains privately owned. NutriBullet is sold through retail, online and wholesale channels and boasts a world-class social presence – Baby Bullet has 5 million friends on Facebook. And sales don’t seem to be slowing down either; in last year’s Black Friday sale John Lewis sold a NutriBullet every 30 seconds .
Colin, though, has underpinned the company with doing good. He is driving social change through health and wellness on the premise that if kids start their day with a NutriBullet drink they will perform better at school, feel better about themselves and want to lead a healthy life.
So, Colin has recently implemented a programme aimed to give schools across the country a chance to learn healthy eating habits through hands-on food preparation using fresh produce and the NutriBullet. The campaign is modelled after the original UNI Project, in which NutriBullet sent a Registered Dietician to University High School (UNI) in Los Angeles to work with students for 90 days. Registered nurses were sent to take anthropometric data and cholesterol levels of students in the program at the start and end of the study. During the course of the programme’s three months, a group of 46 high school students learned the importance of maximizing their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, and began teaching others, including peers and their parents, the importance of a healthy diet.
A bit like Jamie Oliver, Colin is fanatical about healthy living and eating. His dream is for every child in the world to start their day with a NutriBullet and steer clear of sugar and fizzy drinks.
Are you a NutriBullet fan? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and thank you very much again Colin!