A savvy entrepreneur who launched a “game-changing” product to help his elderly mother with her arthritis has turned over £3million in just a year.
Mark Shephard, 55, started Reverse Life, a collagen drink company, last May and is now about to head onto the stock exchange.
The business has already made £3m in turnover with more than 40,000 customers nationally – but Mark, from Altrincham, says it was never about the money.
He first got the idea when medication prescribed for his mother Judith, who is in her late 70s, didn’t seem to help with her swollen joints.
Judith suffers from osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis and Mark was determined to find a solution to the problem.
He started to research alternative solutions in an attempt to make things easier for her to walk around – that’s when he came across collagen.
“I told my mum that I needed to try and find something to help her,” he told Manchester Evening News.
“I spoke to numerous doctors and specialists and they kept mentioning that people over the age of 40 start losing collagen and that will result in weakened skin and bones.
“So, I started looking into it and managed to find some collagen for my mum.
“Three weeks after using it, she said she wasn’t sure if it was a placebo effect or not but she started feeling better.”
He started passing round bottles to his mum’s friends and other elderly people in the local community and they all started to saying the same thing – their skin felt improved and they noticed a change in their hair and nails.
Already in business as a co-founder of PPI company The Genius Group, Mark thought he could be onto a good thing.
Alongside work partner Chris Niebel, he came up with Reverse Life and the business was born.
“A lot of people said it was pretty crazy of us to be starting a business while we’re in lockdown,” Mark explains.
“But my argument was that we’re providing something to the people who can’t go to see the doctor and can’t go to see the beauty therapist because of the lockdown and shielding.
“In a way, it really was the perfect time to start this.”
The product features a ‘magic formula’ of 10,000mg of marine collagen, which is said to aid with skin strength alongside minimising wrinkles and elasticity.
Almost overnight, the product proved to be a runaway success. Within the first two months, they had already sold £100,000 worth of products and were constantly selling out of stock.
Set to launch in Australia and America in the next few months, Reverse Life is now also set to appear on the stock market with an evaluation in the millions.
“Just this week we’ve been approached to float on the stock market – it’s an unbelievable evaluation and we’re over the moon,” Mark adds.
“In a few month’s time, this tiny Manchester business is going to be on the stock exchange.
“We’ve been told that when Virgin Wines floated on the market for £100m, they had 120,000 clients and an average client value of £220. Our average client value is more than that in just six months with over 40,000 clients.
“We’re expecting to be a £100 m company in the next 12 months from now. It’s unheard of.”
During the height of the pandemic and as Reverse Life was just finding its feet, Mark and Chris donated 5,000 Covid test kits to doctors and nurses working in Manchester hospitals.
Mark says it was a part of his ethos of not standing around and waiting for change to come. “We’re a tiny company in the speck of it but I felt we needed to do something,” he says.
“I know nurses were crying their eyes out saying they were terrified of going into work. We paid for the kits and got them independently tested.
“I’ve spoken to billionaires and asked them to help and they’ve just turned round and said it’s not their problem, it’s not their issue.
“To say that it wasn’t their problem, when surely someone in their family will need to go to hospital at some point, was really shocking to hear.
“I’ve always been brought up to be a parallel universe kind of person so I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. I guess that’s how the business started as well.”