How Philip Udeh, founder of Füd, is fighting Sickle Cell via natural energy drinks
If you’re looking for a new and exciting drinks brand then you have to check out Füd, a natural alternative to artificial energy drinks. It was born out of the founder’s own daily struggle with fatigue due to suffering from Sickle Cell Anaemia. We chatted with the founder, Philip, about his business journey and the importance of blood donation amongst the Black community.
Where did the idea for Füd come from?
The idea for Füd arose as I have struggled with chronic fatigue due to Sickle Cell Anaemia. I was looking for a healthier energy drink alternative in the market and decided to create something better!
How did you find the development process?
It was actually jumping in at the deep end. I had no prior food & beverage experience so I literally started by googling “Food Technologists in London”. I made some mistakes along the way, but I was determined to become an expert in my field and took it step by step.
Why is it important that all the ingredients are natural?
Let’s face it. Mainstream energy drinks are full of sh*t! Either they contain the same sugar content as a donut or artificial ingredients you can’t even pronounce: Sucralose, Aspartame, Sorbic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Maltodextrin… who even knows what they do to the body?
What has been the hardest part of the journey so far?
The hardest part is how slowly things happen when you start something new. People will always reject things that they are unfamiliar with. We just have to keep going and work with the people who give us a chance.
Tell us about your Dragons’ Den experience
Dragons Den was a fantastic experience! I highly recommend it to anyone who has a business that they think can scale. You have to know your market, your business model and of course, your numbers inside out. It’s nerve-wracking but definitely an exciting thing to do!
Füd recently underwent a relaunch, what has changed for you guys?
We launched our new drinks in infinitely recyclable aluminium cans. We have also switched to lightly sparkling. Unfortunately we launched into a pandemic, so we lost some key routes to market. However we pivoted and did lots of online marketing and still managed to grow in 2020!
How does having sickle cell impact your daily life?
Generally I’m pretty lucky with my health. I also invest a lot of time and care into exercise, deep breathing, hydration, supplements and rest. However I do suffer with chronic fatigue daily as well as chronic pain due to avascular necrosis of my hips. These are massive challenges to my physical and mental health. I try to practice gratitude for how functional I am and also try to be extra kind to myself too. We should all do this!
With it recently being World Blood Donor Day, what is the main message you’d like to get across to people?
Sickle Cell can cause organ failure, joint degradation and even strokes in children. Painful episodes called crises can occur regularly. Some people are hospitalised on a monthly basis. One of the key ways people with Sickle Cell can keep well is by having blood transfusions! Hence why it’s really important for everyone to give blood. Especially the Black community in Britain as most people with Sickle Cell are from this community.
What’s the main piece of advice you’d give yourself at the start of your entrepreneurial journey?
Take every day step by step and pay attention to every small action, every conversation, every mini pitch. Get mentally ready for a long journey! Everything will take four times as long as you expect. Spending money is not always the solution. Preserve your cash. Invest in good people. Enjoy and be present in the process. Success or failure are abstract concepts as the learning and growth you gain is what’s real.
What do you want your legacy to look like?
I want to take a product from idea to mainstream - sofa to supermarket! Also building a global brand and company that will constantly be a vehicle to raise awareness and importantly, raise money for Sickle Cell. Ultimately, parents and children who live with Sickle Cell can look at my story and believe that they too can do great things!
Visit the Füd website to learn more about their story: https://drinkfud.com and follow their Instagram for updates @drinkfud