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How a 60-year-old started a $20 million business from his kitchen table

Lucy Dean
·4-min read
Errol McClelland is the founder of TurmeriX. Images: Supplied
Errol McClelland is the founder of TurmeriX. Images: Supplied

“She finally said, ‘The only way to fix this is to fuse your ankle.’”

For butcher and policeman turned entrepreneur Errol McClelland that sentence was far from what he had planned. But three years after an unsuccessful surgery, it was looking like it was either a fused ankle, or a future in and out of a boot and on crutches.

Frustrated, McClelland began looking at alternatives and reading up on everything he could find. Everything pointed to one natural anti-inflammatory: turmeric.

“On the kitchen table, I put together a mix of spices and started mixing them and testing them at very high rates,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“I was taking about a tablespoon a day and within three or four days, I saw that my shoe was a little bit looser. Being a really good bloke, I thought, ‘If one tablespoon is good, three must be much better.’”

Nine days after that, his ankle was almost back to its original size and 90 per cent of the pain was gone because the pressure on the nerves had been largely mitigated.

“Effectively, I fixed myself.”

Five years later, McClelland has refined the ingredients, identified the best type of turmeric and the required activators to develop a product now approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, TurmeriX.

And he’s sitting on a $20 million international medicinal turmeric business with a presence in 16 countries and Terry White chemist stores around Australia.

How did he do it?

McClelland sourcing turmeric in India. Image: Supplied
McClelland sourcing turmeric in India. Image: Supplied

McClelland attributes two things to the brand’s rapid growth: a good product and word of mouth.

He said the turmeric used is the more expensive form from Kerala India, and has a significantly higher potency than the more common turmeric used for cooking, colouring and in many other health supplements.

“There’s a lot riding on the [turmeric] hype,” he said, noting the market for natural remedies is saturated with lower quality products.

The second element was word of mouth: after testing out early batches on himself, his friends suffering from arthritis asked to try some.

“I thought, if it's working like this, let's have a crack and see if we can have more people. I started at the Daylesford market and had a very successful day, I sold the product with a money back guarantee.”

That guarantee still stands, with McClelland noting that the product will work differently on different people but that they still get very few returns.

“What would happen would be people would be over here on holidays and they’d buy the product at a market or at a trade show and they’d go home and when they ran out they’d be ringing up, asking for more and about how could they get it and we had to expand quite quickly to meet the need,” he said.

“Posting one or two [units] at a time was quite prohibitive, so really it created itself almost. It’s been a whirlwind.”

Lessons to be learnt

Errol McClelland has some advice for other entrepreneurs. image: Suppled
Errol McClelland has some advice for other entrepreneurs. image: Suppled

McClelland started TurmeriX later in life, at 60 years old and he believes this helped him achieve greater success.

“When you get to be a little bit older, you’ve got a wealth of knowledge and you’ve got networks of people and ideas you can tap into to help you take that journey,” he said.

“I’m privileged to be in that position where I have had a lot of assistance along the way in opening up doors.”

He said these were from relationships developed prior that have allowed him to tap people on the shoulder and ask for advice and help.

His advice now is simple: use your connections.

“Use that network and don’t be afraid to ask. Most people want to help and I think it’s great. Now people come to me and ask, ‘How do I do that?’ And I love to do that - it’s a privilege to help where you can.”

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