Happy Inside founder Charlie Knockton was inspired to create his hugely successful gut-health drinks brand after becoming disillusioned with the soft drinks that were available online and in stores.
After having to sell his food-truck due to Covid-19, he began experimenting in his home kitchen to create a drink that not only tasted amazing but would not make his chronic gut health issues (ulcerative colitis) any worse.
Launched within six months of being approved for the Government-backed ‘Start Up Loan Scheme’ in August 2020, Happy Inside has since grown from initial concept to an online store, listings with national retailers, leading wholesalers, major restaurant chains and many more.
However, when the pandemic swept through the UK in March 2020, Charlie lost nearly all his customers practically overnight. He was forced to sell his business and, needing something to do, got a packing job in a factory.
There was a Bread & Jam event that GS1 UK sponsored me to go to, which was great... This allowed me to successfully pitch to an Amazon vendor which was a massive milestone for the brand. These networking opportunities have been a huge help as there is a whole community out there who will help your business grow and having access to their support and advice is incredibly valuable.”
Founder, Happy Inside
Creating the concept
It was then that Charlie had his “lightbulb moment”.
“For about two months, I thought about doing a gut health drink because I wasn’t happy with what was on the market” he explained. “I have ulcerative colitis which is like Crohn’s, so I use food as a way to help towards my symptoms."
He began with thorough market research, carefully examining what was in other gut health drinks before attempting to recreate them at home with shop bought ingredients.
This helped him identify an opportunity to offer others like him something unique. Nearly all other drinks were sparking with botanicals, highlighting a clear gap in the market for still drinks that were not rammed with ingredients that could cause further gut issues.
He decided to combine fruit juices with fibre, vitamin C, water and botanicals to create delicious drinks that were packed full of wonderful ingredients. After sampling his creations, he soon noticed that his gut felt happier than it had in years, not to mention his mind.
With his packaging now carefully designed to represent the personality and story of his brand, Charlie realised there was one key element missing – unique barcodes that would enable him to seamlessly sell his products anywhere, to anyone, at any time.
When we secured a listing with YoShushi, the first big brand to take us on, I remember thinking ‘ok, they believe in this’. The sheer elation of seeing my products on the shelf for the first time was a real high point and fuelled my drive to keep pushing forwards."
Founder, Happy Inside
Joining GS1 UK
Recognising the importance of getting his barcodes right from the start, Charlie asked his friends at Sculpd, a successful online pottery business, for advice. As the only authorised provider of unique Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) - the all-important number under the barcode - Sculpd recommended GS1 UK.
Charlie quickly became a member, joining the thousands of UK SMEs who account for 90 per cent of our 58,000 strong community. The benefits of joining GS1 UK extend far beyond the barcode and Charlie was soon able take of advantage of a range of exiting new opportunities. “There was a Bread & Jam event that GS1 UK sponsored me to go to, which was great” he said. “This allowed me to successfully pitch to an Amazon vendor which was a massive milestone for the brand. These networking opportunities have been a huge help as there is a whole community out there who will help your business grow and having access to their support and advice is incredibly valuable.”
“Becoming a member of GS1 UK hasn’t just helped me find success at home, it has also allowed me to grow overseas” he continued. “Attending their exporting events has taught me a great deal, including how to get my products into Singapore, which I have now done almost entirely thanks to them.”
Joining GS1 UK has not only helped Charlie establish and grow his business, it has also helped him adapt to change. As a soft drink manufacturer, Charlie’s products were impacted by the 2022 High in Fat Sugar and Salt (HFSS) legislation. “GS1 UK were really helpful with HFSS” he explained, “as their online productDNA platform meant that all I had to do to ensure compliance was enter my product data which was then automatically linked in to all the big retailers.”
Advice for fellow founders
Charlie’s main piece of advice for emerging brands is to believe in your brand and be bold.
“I’ve’ rocked up at head offices unannounced” he said. “You can charm your way through if you know the name of the person and say you’ve got a meeting. All they can do is say no. You just need to go for it and do it because if you don’t, someone else will.”
He also believes celebrating success and viewing challenges as opportunities to learn are equally important.
“When we secured a listing with YoShushi, the first big brand to take us on, I remember thinking ‘ok, they believe in this’. The sheer elation of seeing my products on the shelf for the first time was a real high point and fuelled my drive to keep pushing forwards.
“While there were highs, there were also lows” he continued. “One big problem I had was with manufacturers – especially when it came to sourcing ingredients that were commercially and compliantly viable. While it was a difficult process, I learned so much as these challenges forced me to adapt and find alternative solutions. These experiences have helped me get much smarter in the way I run my business.”