Established in 1997, Lifes2Good is a global “nutraceutical” business that sells to over 40,000 stores globally with 300,000 customers on its database. The company markets and distributes a portfolio of category-leading natural healthcare brands across Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia.
Born in Galway, James Murphy went to St. Jarlath’s College in Tuam, going on to complete a BComm in the National University of Ireland Galway. James qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1986 before joining Coopers/Lybrand in Brussels, spending five years in Belgium and Luxembourg. Returning to Ireland in 1991, James joined BMR-Slendertone where he built the brand into an international success. He then set up Irish Response-Lifes2Good in 1997 going on to purchase the Viviscal brand shortly afterwards. The company was awarded Deloitte Best Managed Company this year and James recently attended the Stanford Leadership Programme in California sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. One of the three Galway Tenors, James’ personal interests include triathlons, singing and rugby. James lives in Galway with his wife Maria and four children.
Lifes2good’s philosophy is to bring to market clinically proven health & beauty products that improve people’s lives. Their primary product is a dietary/food supplement marketed under the international brand name of VIVISCAL, aimed at people who want to treat hair loss or thinning hair problems. This is a worldwide problem and forms part of the nutricosmetics industry (ingestible beauty products that have been developed to promote healthy skin, nails and hair). This sector puts particular focus on the anti-aging process and is a worldwide market estimated to be worth $5.0 billion by 2015 which is a 25% increase over 2010 values. Lifes2good’s other core product is the Emjoi range of battery and electrical devices for home and salon pedicures. Headquartered in Galway, Lifes2good also has international offices in Chicago, London, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Sydney and Mexico City.
Since Lifes2good’s purchase of Viviscal in 2007, Viviscal can now be found in 35,000 health and drug stores in the US and over 40,000 stores on a worldwide basis. They are already seeing sales increases and have listings in:
- 50 of the best salons across Europe.
- 1,300 Boots stores from March 2013 in the UK.
- Boots stores in Ireland with the full range.
- 42 El Corte Ingles in Spain who are one of the top 20 global retail chains.
- 500 salons in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Lifes2good also plans to embark on new market launches in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Turkey and Russia within the next six months. Their ultimate target is to have a business generating revenues of €70.0 million by 2015.
Lifes2good currently has 75 employees worldwide, 50 of which based in Ireland. A truly Irish product from start to finish, the main production of their Viviscal supplements takes place in their manufacturer’s plant in Belmullet, Co. Mayo and the majority of their packing takes place in Dublin. Under the EI Innovation Partnership Program Lifes2good have now commenced an 18 month project with Shannon ABC (an entity under the control of LIT and Tralee IT) to examine the active ingredients in Viviscal to understand how these impact within the body to stop hair loss & improve hair growth.
Lifes2good’s customer base is fast approaching worldwide but their key markets at this point are Ireland, UK, US, Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. Approximately 25% of their sales revenues come from direct sales via the web or through the call centre with 75% coming from the traditional retail channels.
– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –
What vision prompted you to start-up your business?
Initially I wanted to set up a distribution company in Ireland and bring all the great products to Ireland using Infomercials and a solid retail presence. However it became clear that most of the brands were given to UK companies for UK and Ireland. Forced to compete with them, I bought a UK company and set up Lifes2good in the UK. I then began to realise I could do this in other countries which, when we purchased Viviscal, provided us with the global vision and strategy.
What were the best & worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
Best advice was to trust your gut and worst advice was not to hire a good accountant!
How did you secure your first investment?
From the sale of my shares in BMR-Slendertone.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
Having a judgement go against me in Denmark for €13m. I had the balls to go and find the best lawyers in Copenhagen to defend me and we won.
What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?
Purchasing Viviscal from a Finnish company the week before Christmas in 2007. It had a turnover of €700k which we grew to €15m in five years.
What are the biggest challenges you face now?
Finding the right people to take us to the next level, maintaining the level of focus necessary to deliver our vision and developing the culture which has helped us to get to where we are today.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Taking a hair loss product which was developed for men and developing a niche market worldwide in the female hair loss category which had previously never existed.
What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?
- Make sure you believe in what you set out to do.
- Have the necessary support in terms of finance and people.
- Be prepared for the knocks because they will come.
- Tell your friends you are going on a long holiday!
Were there any early signs that you would eventually follow an entrepreneurial path?
Within two years of qualifying as an accountant I realised I needed to get into business. I developed the technique with Slendertone and eventually Lifes2good came along.
Has your “Irish-ness” contributed to your success?
Massively – charm, brazenness, personality and small Island mentality that urges the need to get out there!
When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?
Cultural fit, relevant experience and ambition to succeed. (The ability to sing helps too)