Team GB athletes at the Paris Olympics will be powered by nutritional drinks from Hertfordshire as they chase their gold medal dreams.
When the action starts in the French capital next July, the founder of VOW Nutrition will be eagerly watching to catch a glimpse of the brand he launched just four years ago.
Simon Stevens welcomed the first four athletes selected for the GB squad to the company’s new base at the Theobalds Enterprise Centre (TEC) after being named an official licensee for the team.
He presented canoeists Joe Clarke, Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods and Adam Burgess with a selection of nutrition products specifically created for them after they qualified for the greatest sporting event in the world.
Simon said: “It was an incredible pleasure to have members of Team GB at our fantastic new offices. It was a great opportunity to show off our new space.”
VOW Nutrition, which specialises in protein and sports nutriments, was one of the first tenants to move into the £10m business hub that officially opened in November. As soon as he learned of the plans for the building, Simon made sure he had his name on the list – and is now proud to occupy a top floor office with views across to London.
For the man who used to live just a stone’s throw from TEC, it is an important milestone for his business.
“I’ve spent most of my life in Hertfordshire, I grew up in Hoddeson, lived in Cheshunt for years. And it just feels so nice to bring the business back into an area I know so well after being in Essex.
“Now we’re here, we won’t be moving. And we’re potentially looking at taking on some more space.
“I think it’s an up and coming area and I was badgering the council to get my name on the list when I first heard about the plans. We’ve been having almost daily visits from people and meetings since we moved in – where we were before, we couldn’t invite anyone in.
“There’s a lovely little coffee area where they can wait when they arrive and there are great facilities throughout, especially plenty of parking.
“As we’re growing and talking to more retailers, it’s important to be able to invite them to our office. Quite often these people want to see where you’re based and we are proud to bring people here.”
The former ranked 200m runner has seen his business grow exponentially since it was launched in 2019.
“Nobody was being innovative and I could see there was a gap in the market for better products for higher-end athletes. I thought, ‘let’s just go for it and innovate this space’. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
After agreeing an initial deal with Holland & Barrett pre-COVID, Simon watched as other brands failed to survive through the pandemic.
“I think we were brave enough to go, let’s take a risk. I think we were just really determined to make it work. I’ve always been prepared to be really agile. If things aren’t working, we’ll change.”
Now available in Boots and, of course, through the VOW Nutrition website, Simon is constantly looking ahead thinking about new products and different markets.
“Our latest product is a vegan protein drink, called Sparklean, which is like an everyday carbonated fruit-flavoured drink. Nobody else has done anything like that.
“We launch in China this month and we’re also moving into Ireland and looking to do a deal with an Irish rugby team. We’re had great support from the Hertfordshire Chamber for our international exports which has been really helpful.
“I’ve got my own sports background and I always say you wouldn’t put in the effort unless you believe you could win those big titles and achieve results. It’s the same with business. I want us to be one of the biggest sports nutrition brands in the world.”
Find out more about VOW Nutrition: https://vownutrition.com/