I thought it would be fun to end the week with a new and exciting Sheffield based business. Earlier in the week I had the chance to meet up with Dr.Asif Munaf to talk about his new business, DATE Smoothie. I loved his work ethic and his passion for good health and just knew I had to feature his business journey here on Prettygreentea. I love featuring local businesses here on Behind the Biz.
If you’re new around here, Behind The Biz is an interview series where I discover small and growing businesses, the people behind them and their business journey.
Today I’m chatting to Dr.Asif Munaf, the founder of DATE Smoothie.
Please tell us about your business.
DATE smoothie is a 100% natural ingredient vegan smoothie with no added sugar made in response to the deluge of sugary drinks. It is a frustrated doctors attempt to clean up a messy industry.
Where did the inspiration for DATE Smoothie come from?
After having smoothies to keep me going for my 12h shifts, I saw no one else making smoothies quite like me. The smoothies I made kept me going for hours on end due to the high fibre content and I saw a massive gap in the market for real nutritious meal replacement smoothies so I went for it. With the proposed Government taxation on sugary drinks next year, I wanted to exploit this opportunity to really push out a healthier alternative to commercial smoothies.
How did you decide upon the name of your brand?
The name actually was devised by a friend of mine. He advised me to keep things simple when I told him I wanted to create my own smoothie brand. DATE as the common ingredient in all our smoothies are dates. DATE because time is precious and everyone is in a rush. Finally, DATE stands for Dr Asif’s Thoughtful Eating.
How do you balance your day job as a junior doctor, your business and family?
It’s been incredibly tough. I’m effectively working two jobs. I work all day as a doctor then each evening up until 1am on the business. I am incredibly determined to take DATE Smoothie to the supermarket shelves and make it a success and whether that means surviving on 4h sleep a night for the next few years, then it is a sacrifice I will have to make.
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
Being self-employed has always been my dream. Being my own boss has always been the best way to have a great work-life balance. But not at the moment, I need to complete my medical training and become a consultant before I become self-employed.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
My lack of business experience and acumen as I come from a completely academic background. So some of the marketing and business strategy aspects of running a business have proved most difficult. But I believe my passion and charisma as well as my credentials as a nutritionally-conscious doctor and qualified personal trainer will sell more than any formal business education will.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
Selling out three times at the Sheffield Xmas markets and being featured in the Sheffield Telegraph and Star have proved our highlights so far.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media is our key marketing strategy at the moment. It ensures maximum customer engagement for next to nothing in price. We are all across the main social media platforms and this has proved a key driver for our sales as people can really get a good sense of our brand image by our regular postings on social media.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
As the founder of Tossed said last month at a talk, JFDI: Just * Do It. I wont insert the word beginning with F. This is the simplest yet most powerful advice anyone can heed.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
I’m hoping 2017 is a big year for us. We officially launched our website on New Years and are aiming to be stocked at the major retailers from Autumn onwards. I aim for DATE to be a lifestyle brand rather than just a drink. I want DATE to be synonymous with a new wave of thinking in making healthy food choices. We aim to expand into food by next year, so Dr Asif’s Thoughtful Eating can be a real force for healthy eating in the light of the growing obesity and diabetes epidemic in the UK.
You can buy the smoothies (I can confirm they’re delicious) over on the website and don’t forget to support the biz by following them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Thank you so much to Asif for being involved with Behind the Biz. He’s a really busy and passionate guy and I can tell he’s onto a real winner with DATE Smoothie. I can’t wait to see the smoothies stocked in local shops and supermarkets.