These days, everyone seems to be on the eat right, stay fit movement. Simply Green Juices isn’t left behind, as the brand is actively promoting a healthy lifestyle through their cleansing program. Simply Green Juices control the entire value chain from the production of the fruits and vegetables, to the distribution to the final end user. In a complex market, with fairly poor infrastructure, it is amazing what these young entrepreneurs have been able to achieve so far. Below is the interview 234Finance had with Mena and Shola, the CEOs of Simply Green Juices.
What has been the transition process of moving back home to start a business?
Shola: Moving to Nigeria to start Simply Green Juices has been a challenge. It took years of broken dreams and disappointment before we knew we were doing something right. Nigeria is not exactly the most pleasant place to start a business; we face lots of obstacles from corruption to lack of electricity and infrastructure. It has been tough, but we finally got it right with Simply Green Juices.
What is the inspiration behind Simply Green Juices?
Shola: Simply Green Juices was born from my passion of organic farming, coupled with the latest technology available in agriculture. I drank cold pressed juices everyday when I was living in New York, but when I moved back to Nigeria I found out that there was nowhere to offer me this service so I decided to create my own cold-pressed juice company.
Who are your target market and how do you access them?
Mena: Our target market is really whoever we can reach. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t belong to any particular group of people, so we try not to make it about that. We target health conscious people and people who are concerned about their weight, are those who usually go for our juices. However, we want to educate people more on raw juices, because really our product is for everyone, even kids love the stuff. We’ve been quite fortunate so far because our clients have really loved our juices and have been spreading the word faster than we can. We are on instagram, which has been great for pushing our products. We’ve also been fortunate to have certain local celebrities feature our juices on their instagram feed, which has been great in getting the word out. Furthermore, we will be featuring in the first Vegetarian Festival taking place in Lagos later this year.
Briefly describe the operational process of the point of production to the delivery stage of the Juices
Shola: The most important aspect of our business are the raw ingredients (fruits and vegetables). We own a 6500 Ha farm in Oyo State which caters to our ever growing demands for the freshest fruits and vegetables. Once we have these, we take time to clean each fruit and vegetable with organic fruit and vegetable washes, to remove any residue and bacteria that might remain on them. Each ingredient is then precisely measured in batches to ensure we have a consistent texture and taste in our product (although there’s always a slight taste difference as no two fruits have the same taste). After cleaning and measuring, we pass the fruits and vegetables through our cold-pressed hydraulic press, which extracts all the juice, and leaves only dried pulp. The juices are immediately bottled and chilled to stop any growth of bacteria, which adversely shortens the shelf life. We dispatch our juices and cleanses in the mornings and evenings with our dispatch riders, who know the vast road networks of Lagos, in an insulated box so you get your juices chilled and pure. We have gone as far as giving each of our clients on a cleanse program a cooler bag so they can go around with their 6-a-day recommended bottles.
What makes your product stand out from potential competitors?
Shola: What makes us stand out is our farm-to-table policy, which ensures you get only the freshest fruits and vegetables in your juices. This differentiates us from all our competitors who source for their produce from markets and wholesalers. They don’t know where and under what conditions the produce was grown. We do, because we grow most of our products ourselves. We have also outsourced local farmers to help bridge the gap in our supplies, by doing so, creating jobs and securing livelihoods of local farmers who are often exploited by wholesalers. At Simply Green Juices, we don’t just make and sell juices; we are creating a movement for local small-scale farmers to come under one brand, which is creating products that are of international standards. We are also conscious about the environment, that’s why we are starting a bottle-recycling program. We are in the process of using only recyclable materials in our packaging.
What have been the challenges so far with running Simply Green Juices
Mena: The main challenges we face are the lack of electricity and good roads. Although we would like to run totally off-the-grid and be self sustainable by generating our own power, but we haven’t gotten there yet because of the poor infrastructure. The other challenge is making sure we can get our ingredients from our different farms to our production site.
Shola: I personally think finding dedicated workers has also been a major challenge.
How do you ensure quality control of the Juices?
We don’t joke with quality control! Inspections of our ingredients start right from the farms. We monitor our produce on the field before transporting to the production site and after drop off at the production site where they are finally sorted. When ingredients are selected to be washed and measured, we wash each ingredient with an organic liquid wash and purified water. All our staff working in the production room must disinfect their hands before touching the ingredients, materials and any equipment. After pressing, the juices are immediately bottled in a sterile environment and chilled.
Describe your distribution channel and how you intend to improve it in the long-term
We run a delivery service and offer our clients on the cleanse programs free delivery. We plan to open our stores around Lagos very soon. We have just concluded with Trident Gym and Spa in Victoria Island and will be stocking there soon.
What incentive can you consider giving customers to place repeat orders with you?
Mena: We give our customers a percentage discount if they are on our subscription programs. We also throw in freebies.
What do you want to achieve with Simply Green Juices in the long run?
Shola: We have a clear view of where Simply Green Juices is going to be in a few months and years. Simply Green is not just going to focus on juices but also a wide selection of organic products to help people live a healthier lifestyle.
Besides selling Simply Green Juices, how are you actively creating awareness about healthy living in Nigeria?
Mena: We create awareness by constantly educating people on the importance of eating healthy and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. We have partnered with yoga studios and gyms to drive our message of a healthier lifestyle. Shola wants to educate people about the importance of growing your own food and knowing the source of what you eat, and I want people to know about what really constitutes as good food and a healthy balanced diet, thereby making people more informed to make better lifestyle choices.
What advice can you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
Shola: Take that chance and follow your heart. It usually leads you the right direction
Mena: You can learn from every experience.
Below are images of Mena and Shola, the brains behind Simply Green Juices