Julian Hearn's Bio
About me in 10 seconds
Hello, my name is Julian and I’m the Founder and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of Huel.
I built my first company (Mash up Media) from scratch as the sole founder with £1,500 investment. Within three years Mash up Media was making over £2.5 million profit per year, and I successfully sold it to Internetbrands in 2011.
I’m now the founder of Huel which I bootstrapped to over £40m in revenue, and a valuation of £220m within four years of launch. We've just completed our 5th year in which we generated £72m rev + ebitda profitable.
Just email for high-res versions (julian at huel dot com)
As featured in…
Quick timeline to get you up to speed
- 1972: born in Buckinghamshire, England
- 1988: left school at 16 with virtually no qualifications (two Es at English, my forte)
- 1988: worked in a shop for a year
- 1989: worked as a laborer - dug holes in the road for two years
- 1991: girlfriend said I was too bright to dig holes, so went back to college
- 1993: passed college with distinction, couldn’t get a job, so went to uni
- 1996: left uni with a 2:1
- 1997-2008: worked my way up the marketing ladder to Head of Marketing (Starbucks, Tesco, Waitrose, MFI, Emap, etc.)
- 2008: started my first company with a £1,500 personal investment
- 2011: sold Mash up Media to Internetbrands for a multiple of the £2.5m annual profit it was generating in its third year
- 2012: launched next business Bodyhack
- 2013: paused Bodyhack and started work on Huel
- 2015: on 17th June Huel was launched, from my garage
- 2018: after bootstrapping Huel to £40m annual run rate we took £20m investment from Highland Europe, valuing the company at £220m
Why I created Huel
I wanted to create something I was proud of.
My first business was a cash generator, it solved my objective at the time to make my family financially secure, but it wasn’t a business I was proud of.
Huel is completely different; money wasn’t the objective. Sure, the lifeblood of a business is money, but Huel is so much more than that. Even if it were a tenth of the size I would still be into it just as much.
I wanted to create a business that did the right thing for the planet, for its staff, and most importantly for its customers. I wanted to create a brand that people would be proud to be associated with.
The litmus tests were:
- would my friends use and wear the clothing unprompted
- would my son be proud and tell his friends “my daddy runs Huel”
Both have been achieved.
How I grew Huel
Making a success and creating a brand isn’t easy. Here are my top tips.
Start – without action you have zero chance. Reading, researching, planning and talking can be useful but they are NOT starting. Take real action, get a product out in the market asap, so you can learn from real customers.
Work your arse off – there are no shortcuts. Being successful is going to take a lot of work. You want to do every job in the business for the first 6 months at least, so you can teach the next person how to do it the way you want it done. You will need to be become obsessed for certain period of time.
Make customers happy – understand what customers want, talk to them, be a customer, engage on social media. Then give them what they want.
Create a powerful and enduring mission – a clear and concise mission should be your north star. It aligns the whole company to move in the same direction.
Create a brand people love to be associated with – the late Steve Jobs said “People buy brands, not products.” So make sure you create a strong brand. Be proud of what you do, really care about every detail.
Remember, brand is every touch point – the product, the look and feel, the way you speak to customers, the delivery box, emails, website, adverts, etc.
Speed wins – learn how to get stuff done as quickly as possible, set short deadlines, hustle. You are in a competitive race so aim to work faster and smarter.
Don't be afraid to fail – everyone fails, Huel is not my first company but it's my most successful. Why? I've learnt along the way by failing.
Go around, over, under or straight through barriers – there will be a new problem every day. You are marking a new path, so you need to solve problems and get past new barriers every day. Learn to be creative and don’t take no for an answer.
Ensure you have a powerful and lasting motivator – startups are hard, they can take a toll on your health, your friendships, your relationships. So if you don't have a burning motivator inside you will struggle to last the distance.
Create a strong culture – without a great team you can't make a great company. So you need to create a culture where the best people want to work. I recommend writing down a culture document as early as you can. Outline what is your DNA and how do you want the team to behave.
Never rest on your laurels – your competitors will improve, so you need to improve to stay ahead. Too often companies slow down and stop innovating. Stay hungry, keep pushing, keep innovating. Otherwise another brand will steal your lunch.
Awards I've received
TV and radio appearances
CNN Business Live – live interview
Radio 4 You & Yours – live interview with Peter White
- Sky News Live – Ian King (sorry, no online version available)
- BBC Business News live (sorry, no online version available)
Press coverage about me
Evening Standard - the background on how I set up Huel
GQ - Secrets of the hyper productive
Wired – profile of Huel with some quotes from me
Elite Business – a very in-depth article about me
The Times – profile of Huel and I (requires sign-up)
The Metro – fun piece about me
The Telegraph – some quotes from me
Forbes – profile of Huel with some quotes from me
Telegraph – about the £20m raise and some quotes from me
Business insider – about the raise and some quotes
Mr Porter – a profile on me and my first stab at professional modelling ;)
Podcasts I listen to...
The Diary Of A CEO by Steven Bartlett - often the number 1 business podcast in the UK. There is an excellent back catalogue of guests, plus Steven is an amazing entrepreneur in his own right. He founded Social Chain, then floated it on the stock market for about £200m all before his 29 birthday. Simply amazing. PS. episode 35 is particularly good!
This Week in Startups - my fav, I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Massive back catalogue of over 900 episodes, should keep you busy for a while.
How to Start a Startup - produced by Y Combinator, the most successful incubator of all time. Only 20 videos to watch but crammed full of excellent actionable advice. These are a must watch for any startup.
Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders - podcast by Stanford University. Really good back catalogue of people like Steve Blank, Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Ballmer, etc. Old but good, and certainly a lot cheaper than getting a Stanford degree.
How I built this - story of how big companies started and grew, e.g. Airbnb, Shopify, Dyson. Interesting to hear the whole journey but a little light of real actionable advice.
The Tim Ferriss Show - super interesting and thoughtful guy. Tim is the author of the 4 Hour Work Week which was instrumental in building my first business. In this podcast he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.
The James Altucher Show - interesting guy. A real wide range of guests. From business through to authors, psychologists, etc. I like it because it I hear different views and perspectives from the norm.
Venture Voice - oldie but goodie, excellent guests Reid Hoffman, Derek Sivers, etc.
The Kevin Rose Show - "podcast for the curious". Kevin interviews technologists, scientists, meditators, self-experimenters, and productivity hackers.
Places to find me
How to contact me
Julian at huel dot com