20 QUESTIONS: Greg Duggan and Damien Kennedy, Wheyhey

One is a former Abercrombie model, the other's an ex-builder: together, they created a protein ice cream. Here the founders of Wheyhey discuss the evils of fro-yo and why one bad decision nearly ruined everything.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 16 May 2014

1. If you had done something else, what would it have been?

We were originally thinking about getting into the protein powder market, but then we realised just how many companies are doing the same thing – so we decided to do ice cream instead. It’s a lot more fun. Who doesn’t love ice cream?

2. What else would you have named your business?

After we first made the ice cream, we were having trouble coming up with names, so we went into two different rooms and came up with two different names: Wheyhey and Cool Whey. After we did a marathon in Ireland, a guy crossed the finish line and shouted ‘wah-hey!’. It was like a message from the gods…

3. If you could be based somewhere else, where would it be?

California would be pretty great: pretty much anything that happens in the health industry in the US happens five years later in the UK. The health industry is massive out there – we’re looking to expand out there pretty soon.

4. When you started, how did you raise money?

We sold everything we owned. We sold our iPhones, we sold our laptops, Greg sold his car, we begged and borrowed from family and friends.

5. What has been your most important decision so far?

To start the thing. We knew that the cost for a consumer product like ice cream was high – and even though there was a niche, the major players in the industry are Unilever, Mars etc, so there was a whole host of car wrecks behind us.

We got so frustrated with big food companies putting rubbish ingredients in their foods. Frozen yoghurt, for example, is almost 40% fructose.

6. What has been your biggest mistake?

Early on, we got a huge order from Holland & Barrett and had to rent a giant commercial freezer which wasn’t in the best state. Overnight, that freezer shut itself down and melted £20,000-£30,000 worth of product. As you grow and get some traction, you realise you can’t do everything – now we have experts in storage and distribution working with us.

7. What idea do you wish you had come up with?

Red Bull would have been pretty sweet. Any product that replaces in the mind of the consumer what they’re actually purchasing – like when someone says ‘I want a Red Bull’ as they’re picking up a can of Monster

8. How do you handle stress?

Going to the gym and seeing friends. We try to avoid alcohol, but sometimes it’s the only answer.

9. What was your first job?

Greg: Lifeguard.

Damien: I worked on a building site. While Greg was saving beautiful women, I was moving blocks.

10. What was your worst job?

G: While we were setting the business up I was doing three jobs at the same time. One of them was sandwich delivery boy. Going up vertical hills in sideways rain on the little tricycle was horrible.

D: Probably on the building site – on a snowy winter’s day…

11. What was your best job?

G: I was a model for Abercrombie & Fitch. You get to travel around the world.

D: I was a performance coach at the Great Britain Institute for Basketball as part of the pre-Olympics programme. I got to work with some of the best athletes in the country.

12. If you were on The Apprentice, what would your team be named?

We’d never go on The Apprentice – it devalues what real entrepreneurs are doing. People don’t understand what it really takes to start a business – it doesn’t just take a quick phonecall from Alan Sugar to get a meeting with an Ocado buyer.

13. What company would you invest in right now?

Alibaba. Everybody would like a piece of that.

14. Apart from property, what is the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

We are both new Apple converts. We’re never going to look back.

15. Suits or jeans?

It depends where you are. We definitely don’t wear suits in the office.

16. Flexible working or office hours?

When you start your own business it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

17. What is the best thing about your office?

We’re about to move into a new, 4,500 sq ft office in Vauxhall. We’ve had it completely customised so it’s all pink and blue, with the logo on the walls. It’s going to be awesome.

18. What app can’t you live without?

Google Analytics.

19. Who is your business idol?

Felix Dennis. He wrote a book called How to Get Rich, which takes the piss out of self-help books. It’s a really honest, inspiring yet realistic depiction of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you’re in the trenches yourself, reading that can really help. It doesn’t glamourise it.

20. If you were prime minister for the day, what would you change?

Everyone has to eat one Wheyhey a day. Not only would everyone get healtier [are you sure? - Ed], but Wheyhey would be massive…

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