Futureminded Founder Q&A: Damian Soong and Natalia Bojanic
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Name: Damian Soong (DS) and Natalia Bojanic (NB)
Disruptor Brand: Form
Parent Company: Independent
What inspired you to create Form?
DS - I created Form because there were no nutrition brands that spoke to me, especially in the plant-based space. Everything either had that very macho branding in horrible plastic tubs, or came across as slightly hippyish. There was nothing performance-driven or aspirational. Nutrition was a very crowded space of course; everyone thought I was crazy to be launching another supplement brand. But for me, this was part of the challenge. Sure, it was a crowded space, but crowded with sheep. It gave us a great opportunity to do something different and stand out.
From a brand perspective we wanted to create something beautiful, but we were mainly concerned with elevating the idea of nutrition to be more than just a protein shake after the gym, rather how you nourish your whole self. It was also interesting to take something that by definition is about the self and make it about others – this is why we introduced our one-for-one giving model; with every product purchased we help a family in need via our Form Feeding Fund at Bansang Hospital in The Gambia.
What were the big lessons you learned in your first year as a business?
NB - The first lesson was to take time developing our blends and brand carefully and thoughtfully, and it’s really paid off. It took around 18 months of research and development, but within three months of launching we were stocked at Planet Organic and received organic (non-paid) support from so many major wellness magazines and social media influencers.
Secondly, being motivated beyond your own interest gives you resilience and strength to face any challenge. Form is a plant-based and impact-driven company that is good for people and the planet. Of course, profit is important too, but knowing we are playing a role in supporting people who want to eat fewer animal products and that when our customers choose us they are also supporting vulnerable lives in The Gambia drives us to grow and expand so we can continue to positively impact the world.
What are the brand values and promises you stand behind?
NB - Four key pillars underlie everything we do. The first is to flourish ethically – we combine trusted research sources and sustainable practices to naturally support our customers’ wellbeing. Giving is a given – together we can impact society in a way that’s bigger than our products alone. People and planet are at our core; we believe that human health depends on the health of the planet. And finally, we’re unbound by convention. We’re quick thinkers who don’t rush, and our success lies in doing the unexpected.
How did you challenge the status quos and disrupt conventional wisdom?
DS - By creating an aspirational, performance-driven brand that delivers a plant-based protein that doesn’t compromise on taste.
How did you set your brand apart?
DS - We wanted to elevate nutrition to be more than just a protein shake after the gym and rather how you nourish your whole self and perform better in every aspect of your life. This is why we developed our nootropic cognitive supplements and educate customers via events and email courses. It was also important for us to broaden that definition of self-centred wellbeing to one that encompasses those who don’t have the privilege of thinking about their nutrition in quite the same way as we do. It’s why we introduced our one-for-one giving model; with every product purchased we help a family in need via our Form Feeding Fund at Bansang Hospital in The Gambia.
What’s next for Form?
NB - Due to popular demand, we’re excited to soon be launching ready-to-eat additions to our product line, and expand our reach further into the US market.
Give us a quick insight into a day in your life?
DS - I wake up every day without an alarm – I’m an early riser so it’s normally about 6am. I stopped reading the news for a long time but with the crazy situation we’re in now I’ll read the news and have a coffee. From there I’ll head to Soho House to the gym and lift weights or do Peloton. I’ve got back into my yoga now also so might go to Triyoga instead – but I’ll always do something to workout. After that I’ll have a protein shake and head to the office. I tend to compartmentalise my work time into sprints and am mostly working on relationship building with suppliers and customers or bigger strategic goals such as our US launch.
What’s your personal mantra?
NB - “Tenta, tenta até conseguir.” My mum used to repeat it to me every time she taught me a new skill. It means keep trying until you achieve – Sounds much cooler in Portuguese, right? In case you were wondering, I am Brazilian.
DS - “Fortune favours the brave”
What’s your favourite self-care activity?
NB - Spiritual Practices such as daily morning meditation, praying through the day, listening to inspirational teachers, or anything that connects me to a higher intelligence and offers me perspective and peace.
DS - Yoga, meditation and massage
What’s your favourite book?
DS/NB - Our office is full of books, below are our favourites:
Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
The most powerful Roman Emperor Aurelius was also a trained Stoic philosopher. Originally a private journal on his thoughts on running a Roman Empire, it’s a fascinating insight and I can’t think of a more interesting job! This was the most powerful man on Earth and he displays amazing compassion and humility. If you scroll back through the Form Instagram feed it’s littered with quotes from this book.
Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday
The title of this is drawn from Aurelius’s writings (“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”) and Holiday’s is a book essentially about Stoicism for the masses with modern relevance. He shows how Stoic principles were applied by various people of note to challenges they faced.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage - Alfred Lansing
Shackleton’s family motto was "by endurance we conquer" and by God did he have endurance. A Stoic, probably without knowing it (how else could you eat nothing but seal blubber for over a year?!). This is an insane story of human drive, endurance and survival – no words I write can do it justice. Go read!