Finer Forage Ltd
Founder: Nia Cooke
Business Launch: 2021
Finer Forage Ltd makes species appropriate horse feed. The product is unique and innovative. It's comparable to raw feeding in dogs - a horse feed which is designed to provide all the nutrients a horse needs, from minimally processed, species appropriate plants, just as a horse has evolved to eat - rather than waste products from the human feed industries, which is what you'll find in most commercially horse feeds.
Where did the idea come from?
I formed the company in July but have only launched the social media page in the last few weeks. I am unable to sell any as yet, as I am still awaiting trading standards to come and advise on food safety standards and I need to finalise the recipe so I can get the nutrients analysed for the label. However, through my other work as an equine nutritionist, I have almost 3k members on my facebook group, where I have introduced my feed informally. There was a lot of interest! There were also requests of a page to follow the journey of making the feed, hence I created the facebook page. It is exciting to have such a lot of interest in the product before it's even on sale, but is also a little daunting! I am now on prototype mix 3, the recipe is being refined and I think we are almost there for product 1. Then it will be sent off for the nutritional analysis and things really happen then!
What support or advice have you received?
I have worked with horses since 2011, initially as an equine podiatrist. I figured then that most problems I encountered in the equine hoof, were diet related. Furthermore, the 2 biggest killers of horses are colic and laminitis, bother dietary/metabolic disorders. I started to realise that most commercially available horse feeds are not terribly species appropriate, with high starch levels and a multitude of highly processed by-products. Over time, the idea of making a horse feed that is sourced entirely from beneficial plants and herbs, with scientific backing for the benefits of the herbs came to be. I conducted market research which indicated a strong need for the product. I entered a competition at Aberystwyth and won best bioscience idea, further cementing my belief it was a good idea. The support from Glasgow Student Enterprise and the cash prizes have enabled me to make this dream a reality! I am renting a unit and making my prototypes, with a whole host of new skills and knowledge which will give me every chance to make this work.
What is the best and worst thing about running your start-up?
Best is that moment when you finally see your product! Worst is the uncertainty - can I sell this? Will people buy this? Am I mad to be doing this? Absolute best is to know that you are following your dream and making this happen.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Finding reliable childcare to enable me to be at the unit more. Thankfully, I can take my daughter there if I need to, but as she's 2, she's very fond of chaos and mess!
What does success look like for Education Evolved?
Making progress - getting that product made, tweaking it until it's the best it can be - having people believe in what you're doing - being flexible in developing your idea so that it works - ultimately of course, selling it and making a profit, but I'm not quite there yet!
What would be your one piece of advice for students?
Just do it! Make sure you have a plan, but don't be afraid to change that plan when you need to. Mainly, just get started, don't procrastinate too much, just start, you can tweak as you go along. Believe in yourself and know that absolutely everything was just an idea at one stage - be that sliced bread or iphones!