Q&A: Keeping it in the family

This week ISB we talk to 19-year-old Lana Hooper, co-founder of The Smoothie Bombs. Lana founded the business with her mum, a nutritionist, seven years ago when they realised the smoothies mum concocted to satisfy Lana’s fussiness over what she ate were so tasty they’d appeal to a much wider audience.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you founding Smoothie Bombs?

LH: My mum’s inspiration for developing the Smoothie Bombs was my bad eating habits as a teenager. The smoothie booster she made for my breakfasts was so popular family and friends owning cafes started buying them. I got involved in the business side of things early on as I would often “wag” school to help my mum hand-roll and pack the Smoothie Bombs.

ISB: What were the biggest roadblocks you faced when you started the business and how did you manage to overcome them?

LH: Being young and inexperienced is definitely one of the challenges for me. While I feel like I have a lot of responsibility within the business, other people don’t expect me to know what I’m doing. I have to work extra hard learning new things to be able to produce high quality work.

Another challenge is that it’s harder to connect my friends from high school who are all now in uni. I’ve I’m proud of them for taking the path they are taking, but we just live very different lifestyles now.

ISB: What have been the key pros and cons of co-managing the business with your mum?

LH: First, the “pros”. We know each other so well and know how to work well together. We also have a lot of fun and laugh a lot.

The only real “con” is the fact that it’s really hard to detach life from work. We go home at night and we still pretty much only talk about the business. We have to make a conscious effort to go out and socialise on our own.

ISB: Would you say this setup has helped you transition better as an entrepreneur?

LH: The family business environment has been awesome for me to be able to experiment with what I want to do and learn what kind of business person I am. It’s great to have the support of my mother during the challenging periods and be able to share the wins.

ISB: What was the most important lesson you have learnt on your entrepreneurial journey?

LH: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that people won’t always understand what you’re doing and why, and it’s not worth getting upset about. Instead, I’ve tried to surround myself with positive people who “get it” and can give me constructive feedback instead of just questioning the core of what I’m doing.

ISB: What is your long-term vision for Smoothie Bombs?

LH: Long term, I want Smoothie Bombs to be in the pantry of every Australian family, something that is as common as Weetbix. I think Australia is really moving in a direction of healthy eating and the Smoothie Bombs is a great product for that growing market.

ISB: Lastly, what is your advice to anyone – especially a “teenpreneur” such yourself – who has an idea they wish to pursue as a business?

LH: As a young person with minimal responsibility, you’ll never be in a better position to jump head first into an exciting opportunity like starting or joining an early-stage start-up. Go for it!

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