Q&A: Setting the bar high in the fight against diabetes

This week we chat to brother and sister duo Sascha and Adam Jones. The siblings combined in late 2016, having established successful careers independently, to found Set The Bar, an enterprise designed to fill a gap they identified in the market for snack bars with real, research-backed health benefits that people can trust. Sascha and Adam  have just launched their second health product, EMPOWdER, an organic fermented mushroom blend.

ISB: How is Set the Bar doing so far in your mission of helping address the problems of diabetes and obesity?

SJ: We’re slowly but surely getting the message across to the consumers, retailers and industry. We’re passionate about these issues and it is, and will continue to be, a huge part of our company mission – making products like our enerGi Bio Bars available to the diabetic market.

We have just launched a new range EMPOWdER – organic fermented mushroom powders. They pack a nutrient powerhouse punch to add to smoothies, salads, meals and beverages. The healing power of mushrooms and many of their documented benefits include balancing blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory properties and helping those with diabetes. So, we’re committed for sure.

ISB: What do you think are the advantages and, potentially, the disadvantages of siblings running a business? And if there are any of the latter, how do you overcome them?

SJ: The advantages for us far outweigh the disadvantages. In any company it’s advisable to have a mix of skill sets – Adam has a strong business/financial head and has a great scientific mind so he’s great when it comes to being put on the spot to answer sticky questions. I’ve also run my own successful businesses, however, I’m more creative and I tend to take on the social outreach and PR side.

ISB: The health industry is a dynamic one – how are you able to keep upright on the sector’s “shifting sands”?

AJ: That’s definitely a big part of the appeal for us – it keeps us on our toes and makes staying up to date on the latest research and nutritional insights really interesting work.

It does take a lot of time and work, and both Sascha and I have had a big learning curve over the last couple of years, but we’ve also been very lucky to know some very well-respected people with a vast wealth of knowledge and years of experience in the health industry. These people have helped us so much, and we really appreciate them. So many of the people we continue to meet in the health and wellness sphere are incredible, talented and very supportive of one another, which is a rare thing in almost any industry.

ISB: What is the secret of your business’ sustainability while maintaining competitive pricing for your products?

SJ: It’s a competitive and growing market and having a USP is key. The costs to manufacture products like ours are high in Australia and it does make it a challenge to maintain a competitive price point.

Fortunately, “premiumisation” is a strong emerging trend that we can tap into so it helps when it comes to sitting on the shelf at a slightly higher RRP. We do need to invest in educating our consumers and retailers more, but that’s part of gaining credibility and people respect being informed in the long run, especially where their wellness is involved.

ISB: How do you see the business developing in the next couple of years?

AJ: We’re building a wellness company whose name is synonymous with healthy products and healthy living, and we’re just getting started. Our focus right now is to continue to get the word out about Set The Bar and our products, and the importance of great nutrition and research backed functional foods.

The coming years will require a lot of growth, both for us as a brand and as a company, as well as some strategic partnerships with distributors in the health, fitness, food and pharmacy sectors within Australia, and logistics, distribution and marketing services for overseas.

ISB: And what is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to those with a passion they’d like to turn into a business?

SJ: Just go for it. You have to start somewhere so start where you are now. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and with a lot of effort and a bit of luck you’ll land somewhere in the middle. Then keep going, because nothing really happens overnight. Be willing to do everything yourself, but surround yourself with great people who will share the work; those who have a similar goals, and those who have the strengths you need and need the strengths you have.