My first boss: Juliet Barratt, co-founder of sports nutrition brand Grenade

·4-min read
My first boss: Juliet Barratt, co-founder of Grenade
Grenade wanted to be the Red Bull of sports nutrition, says co-founder Juliet Barratt. Photo: Grenade

British performance nutrition business Grenade was launched in 2009 on a shoestring budget by husband and wife team Juliet and Alan Barratt. Its Carb Killa line changed the company and Grenade has been a regular in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. In 2021, Cadbury owner Mondelez snapped up a majority stake in Grenade, which valued the business at £200 million.

Juliet is now backing the FEBE Growth 100, launched to challenge the existing cliché corporate awards and celebrate 100 of the UK’s founders who have led their businesses to deliver significant sales revenue and consistent profit against the pandemic.

What really grabbed me about Mr Hamilton was how he had been in business before. I was only 15 but I remember doing a stocks and shares project and tracking Jaguar Land Rover. It was utterly fascinating watching the shares go up and down and it gave me an early love for business.

Business studies at school was so different from doing geography or PE. I have learnt from ‘doing’ and, because we were given the chance to choose a business and watch it grow, it gave me an insight into the real world. Mr Hamilton was my early motivator.

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We were seeing the shares change daily and it was far more exhilarating than opening a text book or learning an algebra calculation I was never going to use again. He was the first person who bought the outside world into school.

It was all about risk, too. It showed that the value of money can go up and down and it is the same in business, as well as the long term picture.

I later graduated with a geography degree and when I left, in 1995, I did a PGCE at Exeter to qualify as a teacher and went on to become head of sixth form. Mr Hamilton was relatable, talked a lot of sense and had a life experience. It was one reason why I taught for so long – he made me realise that if you had some common sense you could do well at teaching and appreciate it more.

Grenade's Carb Killa has outsold the Mars Bar. Photo: Grenade
Grenade's Carb Killa has outsold the Mars Bar PIC: Grenade

I met my future husband Al in Birmingham on a drunken night out in 2003 and we married in 2004. I went to work with him on a sports distribution business a year later and that’s when the idea of Grenada was formed.

The brand launched in 2010 – having patented in 2006 – where we just had a clear vision for our product. Our general business plan was that we wanted to be the Red Bull of sports nutrition and that’s as far as it went. Yet, we wanted a global brand to dominate one category.

After launching with a credible brand we started to do more products. That was the key. There was no social media at that time and so we worked with trusted distributors, who took a punt on us as we had already formed relationships. People felt our products working as you do with energy drinks. Word of mouth then set in.

Read more: My first boss: Anne Boden, CEO and founder of Starling Bank

I stepped away from the business in 2019 – Al is still chief executive after the deal with Cadbury's owner last year – and I now work as a non-exec and chair for other food brands to help them on their journey. That’s where FEBE is so exciting as we are talking with entrepreneurs that are on the same growth, profitable journey.

I celebrate all entrepreneurs and I’m not a big fan of the female founder label. If you are good at what you do and work hard then everyone deserves success. We are really inventive in the UK and since the pandemic, businesses that weren’t online have changed their ways. Entrepreneurs and businesses are really good at changing and adapting and not governed by red tape. They can build a community and make people feel part of the brand.

The FEBE Growth 100 reveals the UK’s fastest-growing, founder-led companies in a new growth list

Watch: Why do we still have a gender pay gap?

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