Shapers: Jalal and Soraya Janmohamed
Jalal and Soraya Janmohamed
Jalal, Soraya & Farah Janmohamed are siblings and co-founders at OptiBac Probiotics, a 14 year old company specialising entirely in friendly bacteria supplements. Jalal studied Business at the University of Nottingham; he finished on the Friday and, eager to get going, started the company on the Monday. His sisters worked remotely until joining full time in the following years – Soraya with a first class degree in Languages & Marketing, and Farah with a first class in Natural Sciences from Durham University. Today Jalal acts as MD, Soraya as Director of Marketing & Communications, and Farah as Business Development Director. Growing the company together in a flexible manner has meant that the siblings have each worked in all parts of the business – from packing in the warehouse to representing the brand on the road – giving them a great understanding of the business & industry. Today, the business employs over 50 people. The OptiBac Probiotics range is regularly featured in the national press; is stocked in over 1,500 health food stores & pharmacies across the UK & Ireland; and exports to more than 10 countries. Jalal, Soraya & Farah are proud of their products’ quality – offering some of the most researched probiotic strains in the world – and ethics; the company donates over 1% of turnover to charity.
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“We had the influence of dad being a Pharmacist by profession, and also when we were kids our mum passed away of cancer so when she became ill we obviously all became really interested in health”
“As kids we were those annoying children in the village who insisted on taking a table out to the end of the drive and selling lord knows what to everyone who passed by. We used to make lemonade didn’t we?”
“I think our very first lesson in business is this idea that people buy from people. So we used to try and charm people into buying things. Perhaps they just felt a bit bad for us.”
“We’re big believers in just trying something and then evaluating it, trying to measure if that worked or not. If it does you go gung ho a hundred miles an hour and really exploit it, and if it doesn’t then you try something else”
“Something Dad tells us always is hire people who are smarter than you. So we’re really doing a lot of that and we’ve got some great people on board and I think that’s fantastic advice”
“The approach we’ve taken was to really reach out to the independent pharmacies and the independent health food shops and you can really build a great relationship with the owners of those shops”
“We’re in such an exciting industry, its constantly evolving. Every single week some new research comes out on probiotics for a different health condition.”
“We’ve been told by some of these product partners that we do a crazy amount of due diligence… more than the Johnsons & Johnsons of this world.”