Download this interview in PDF format 220 downloads.
Name: Barnabas Huang
Age as of 2015: 31
Years of Training: 13
Current and previous occupation(s): Founder & Managing Director of NutriFirst Pte Ltd
- Asia Excellence Award 2013
- South East Asia Excellence Award 2013
- SME of the year 2014
- Spirit of Enterprise 2010
- Featured on Yahoo Sports Nov 2013
- Featured on Straits Times Me & My Money Mar 2011
- Featured on Asia Sports Network 2014
- Inspiring Asean Politics & Business Titans Award 2015
- Featured on SIM Global website
- Featured on NYP website
- Hunk Quest 2003 Mr Charisma
- Calendar Guys 2008 Mr Suave
Since Barnabas was 16-years-old, he has worked multiple part-time jobs to support and honed his entrepreneurial skills.
Then, an investment decision to follow his fitness passion when he was 19 sparked a monumental shift in his fortune, which would eventually see him becoming a multi-millionaire years on.
With a loan of $3,800SGD from his mother in 2003, Barnabas bought a failing supplement business from a friend, renamed it from NutriSports to NutriFirst and twelve years on, the ever growing local online supplement company had a year-end sales figures of $7.8SGD million in 2014.
Social media & websites links:
Facebook – NutriFirstSupplement
Web – http://nutrifirst.net
Web – http://www.NextBigThing.sg coming soon!
Youtube – NutriFirstNet
Twitter – @nutrifirst
Company Instagram – @nutrifirst
Personal Instagram – @barnabashuang
Below is an extract of the interview
Q) How did Nutrifirst get started?
It started in Oct 2003 as I’m a model at that time and I’m spending $200-300 a month for supplements, therefore it’ll be wise to go into supplement business to reduce my own cost and also to make some extra pocket money during my polytechnic days. It was also an opportunity not to be missed as there’s not many online supplement store here in Singapore and I would say all are managed and founded by local bodybuilders who are not marketers. They do personal selling which will be a long process acquiring customers instead of marketing to the masses. Therefore I seized the opportunity.
Q) Did you come up with the name Nutrifirst? Why and the reason behind the name choice.
I came out with 100 names and shorted like 3 to choose from which consist of NutriFirst, NutriAsia, NutriGlobal and decided on NutriFirst as I believed that good Nutrition, diet and lifestyle being the priority for health and good physique. I have also consulted few businessman and most preferred NutriFirst.
Q) Why did you not use http://nutrifirst.com domain? Do you own the domain? Why was a .net was used instead.
In 2003, NutriFirst.com has been pared under a USA company. Therefore I’m unable to get hold of the .com as its way above my budget. But we have acquired NutriFirst.com few years back at USD 20,000. Since then NutriFirest.com has been redirected to NutriFirst.net as most of our current members know us as NutriFirst.net
Q) You were not the first local bodybuilding supplement store that emerged in Singapore but have now taken a foothold on the supplement market in the region. What did Nutrifirst did differently than other companies, which attributed to its success now?
I personally believe on image, branding, packing, results and taste. Therefore I spent a lot on marketing and always focus on over delivering rather than over promising. At NutriFirst, all new products are selected by me and I have to bring samples in, check the ingredients if it complies with local regulation and personally taste them and see the effects. Once it’s done, I will then get few of our guys to try and get feedbacks before I decide to bring them in. Lastly, I’m always close to my customers as I hear them for their feedbacks and their needs so that I can be ahead of my competition.
Q) Care to share latest quarterly or year-end sales figures?
We did SGD 7.8 million in 2014
Q) Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
I would say retail shops as they have a strong presence and branding, but prices are much higher than us and they lack of sports nutrition knowledge but I do admit that they may have better knowledge for health products. There also few online stores which may be slightly lower priced, but they do not provide real time consultation which helps members achieve results rather than just selling what we want to sell. At the end of the day, we want recurring business rather than one time purchase. If you get good results, will you be pleased and come back?
Q) The best-selling products on Nutrifirst are?
Top 10 are:
- MusclePharm Shred Matrix
- MusclePharm combat powder
- BPI Sports Best Protein
- BPI Sports Best BCAA
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Whey
- Universal Nutrition Real Gains
- Cutler Nutrition Muscle Mass
- Cutler Nutrition Total Protein
- Natrol Acai Berry Diet
- Natrol Milk Thistle
Q) What is your staff strength now and are there plans to expand and grow Nutrifirst? Future plans?
About 20. We will be launching our new e-mall www.NextBigThing.sg later in 2015, as we hope to be a lifestyle mall that not only provide supplements, but also lifestyle products like ‘healthy’ groceries, fashion clothing’s, gadgets, and so on. Basically, we want to cater to every need that our members need at a highly affordable price with ultimate convenience which members need not step out of their house to purchase stuff.
Q) Nutriman and Nutrigirl – Tell us more about the competition and the event goals eg talent spotting, highlighting local talent perhaps, etc. Is it your way of giving back to the fitness community?
Firstly, we would want more people to join the health and fitness community as this mean more business to us and we also hope to have new blood and younger people joining this community. Healthy and active lifestyle mean less prudent to be sick and this is in line with Singapore healthy lifestyle campaigns as all knows that Singapore will have a huge aging population in years to come therefore the best way is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and keep sickness at bay.
Nutriman 2015 will be held 21 August 2015 at Orchid Country Club. Get your tickets here http://www.nutrifirst.net/d.asp?i=1885
Q) I remember Nutrifirst had its own in-house brand of Nutrifirst supplement. It was discontinued. What happen to it? Any chance it will make a comeback?
It was a big bang for the last round, but due to new FDA regulation in USA and we are unable to meet minimum orders and cost is higher due to more stringent regulations, meanwhile we are working on this and may have a great comeback in 2016.
Check out my old review Nutrifirst Get Massive.
Q) What are your current training splits, or program?
To be honest, I do not work out as often as last time. Currently like 2-3 times a week doing sports like roller blade and cycling. Once a while I still do gym training, but ultimately I just want to keep myself healthy.
Q) Where do you train? Tell us about the gym environment there.
Currently I do train at Serangoon Gardens Country Club or Singapore Cricket Club, as it’s free for members. Basically, I train there, as it’s less crowded so that I can train peacefully without getting disturbed and it also comes with other facilities like swimming pool, sauna, steam room and spa.
Q) Your opinion on the local bodybuilding scene? What can be done to improve it?
There’s too many federations over the last few years, it should be 1 and only federation as too many federations may not benefit the federations and athletes. There’s a Chinese saying ‘One stick can be broken easily, but it’s hard to break a bunch of sticks’. Therefore it’s always best to work together and share our expertise so that all benefit.
After our NutriMan event, I do see a trend of Physique category which is good. As not everyone wants to be massive, most just want to have a good beach body. It’s great to see that, as NutriMan has been recognised in a way or other when more companies or federations hold such physique competitions.
Q) Who are your bodybuilder or entrepreneurs idols?
Jay Cutler as he always quoted ‘Without my fans, I’m nobody’, which is so true. Most champions are either stuck up and proud. There’s a Chinese saying ‘There’s always a higher mountain’ which mean that there will always be someone more popular or well know.
For entrepreneurs, I admire many who are mainly self-made as I believe that self-made individuals are stronger in nature and less sheltered.
Q) What supplements do you personally use and recommend?
I personally take Universal Nutrition Real Gains, as I use that to maintain my weight, as I at times have to skip meals due to busy schedule. Real Gains also help me to put on weight for times like photo shoot which I need 5-10kg more with a short notice.
For energy, I personally prefer BPI Sports 1.M.R as it gives me the energy boost, focus and pump I need to get through my workout when I’m exhausted after work.
I also take supplements like Natrol Glucosamine Chondroitin for joint health, Natrol Multivite for health.
For recommendation, it’s individual. Do not listen to your friends or athletes, as they may know what they need and know what works for them unless they are qualified or knowledgeable. Everone has different goals, body type, etc. Therefore by approaching Team NutriFirst Fitness Consultants, we will help individuals by listening to individual needs. Just give us a ring at 67440600 and we will assist you or drop by to say hi and we will greatly share our knowledge with you.
Q) What advice would you give for someone who is new to business & entrepreneurship?
Don’t be afraid to fall, but prepared to stand up when you fall. Be persistent in whatever you do, take pride in your job and love what you do.
Q) What other hobbies do you have… that you like to do when you’re not working?
I love to eat and travel. I travel abroad almost on a monthly basis so that I can learn what others do better than we Singaporeans and see things that we can’t find here in Singapore. I also collect gem stones, jadeite and wood carvings as I believe that that such thing contains a lot of culture which I’m interested to uncover.
Q) Where do you see yourself and Nutrifirst in 5 years?
I hope to 10 times my sales with my new e-mall project and have a better balanced life. I also hope to go for my Masters in 2016 to further widen my knowledge.
Your fitness pal