Q&A: Harnessing ancient remedies to combat a modern-day problem

This week we talk to experienced life sciences entrepreneur Byron Darroch, co-founder of Bio-First, a business that embraces ancient remedies to support modern-day skin conditions.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you founding Bio-First?

BD: Having been involved in the wider life sciences and healthcare industry over the years now, it became very apparent to both Jude Lenart (my co-founder and mother-in-law) and I that there was a real need in consumer health that just wasn’t being addressed. That is the area of healthcare that is self care – what you do to manage a health issue or ailment before you need to seek professional advice. Through personal experience in our family, we felt that we could do a superior job at providing genuine natural product solutions for families’ seeking to manage their own health.

ISB: I understand your mother-in-law Jude is heavily involved in the business – please tell us about her expertise and the role she plays?

BD: Yes, Jude is very involved in the business. She has had a distinguished career, but most importantly for Bio-First she has an extensive background in natural remedies. Jude has a PhD in Natural Medicine and has been caring for friends and family for decades. She is integral to all of our product development, both in terms of developing our proprietary formulations and in ensuring that they best serve our customers. In addition to product development, she also supports the marketing and governance of the business as we scale it up.

ISB: Please tell us about the key ingredients that go into your remedies, and why you use them?

BD: In that, we are unique. The key ingredients and actives change depending on the health issue that we are trying to help address. For us, it is key that they are ‘fit for purpose’. All of our ingredients are backed by the latest scientific research and ‘Dr. Jude’ works to combine them in novel ways that meet our ethos of ‘Science by Nature’. Our hero ingredients include: medical-grade Manuka Honey UMF10+ from New Zealand; Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris), which is a member of the mint family; Milk Thistle Seed Oil; Kakadu Plum; and Manuka Oil.

ISB: As someone passionate about disruption and overturning outdated business models, how has that manifested itself with the way you run this venture.

BD: If you look at the consumer health industry, it is dominated by multinational conglomerates that have been selling the same brands with the same formulations since the year that Teflon was invented. And we all know how that worked out… There is hardly any innovation in this industry and we felt that was wrong.

So, we’ve massively innovated on the product formulation front with our award-winning non-toxic formulations and also on the business model side. We’re online first and have made a conscious decision to meet our customers first and hear from them directly rather than relying on traditional retail. It’s allowed us to speed up our learning process, really honing our product development and our marketing messaging. We also founded this business just prior to COVID hitting in 2020, so we had to fully embrace the WFH model from the get go.

ISB: What is your vision for the growth and development of Bio-First in the next couple of years?

BD: Ultimately, Jude and I founded Bio-First to help families like ours. We want to enable those families to solve their skin issues and enhance their immune support with genuine natural remedies that truly work. The next couple of years is all focused on reaching as many of those families around the world as possible with an initial focus on Australia, New Zealand and the US.

ISB: And, finally, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?

BD: I am originally from South Africa and grew up in an environment where the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. So I would always say don’t be afraid to give it a go, if you really believe in your business idea and feel that it can make a big difference then try it. Really, what is the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work, then you can always try again or get a job. That experience is worth way more to you than sitting in a job you might not like.

I would temper that with being realistic through that journey. Always assess and reassess whether you’re on the right track and make adjustments as you go, there is no linear path to success, things always crop up that change it for the better and for the worse.