In sports, injuries are common, and athletes need to be careful in taking drugs because it can adversely affect their bodies and minds. Our guest George Kruis suffered different injuries while playing rugby, and having reliable products to help him cope with the pain is very important. In this episode, Adam Stott and George Kruis talk about his career as a rugby player, his retirement, and the journey of launching a business.
George Kruis is a professional rugby player with 12 years of experience playing International and club-level rugby. He won three European titles and four Premiership trophies for English Premiership club Saracens, and achieve over 45 caps for England during 2 World Cups and a British and Irish Lions tour. George is also the co-founder of FourFive CBD, whose mission is to help people live healthier, happier lives through the use of CBD and vitamins supplements.
- What is George’s motivation to work hard as a rugby player
- Discover the positive effect of having an environment of winners
- How did going to Japan help him grow as a person
- What inspired them to start the business and why they focus on CBD; and
- The benefits of having a partner and mentors in business
Visit George Kruis’ CBD Suplements website www.fourfive.com/
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Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to this very special episode of Business Growth Secrets. I’m joined by George Kruis, who has had a really, really successful career in sport. And we’re going to uncover that and unpack that today. But he’s also gone on to launch an amazing business. I’m really, really keen to hear his thoughts about how he got into this business and how the opportunity arose.
And it’s a very special day for George for a couple of reasons. Number one is his birthday. So happy birthday, my man. And secondly, the day he formally announced his retirement from rugby. So it’s a big, big day for him. And I’m really, really pleased to be with you on this stage. George, talking about the new chapter and your new journey. So welcome to the show. Hope you’re doing well my friend, and super excited to get to know you a little bit better now.
Yeah, feeling good, big fan. So thanks for having us on. But yeah, yeah, big day for me. And one that I kind of kind of knew that’s been coming for a while. So yes, it’s just what you call it monkey off the shoulder or, way off mime type scenario now. I’m super excited to rip into the next kind of three months over in Japan to finish up the season. Then get back to London to crack on with some business.
Right. Awesome. So join us for a little bit of a journey of your career. I said to you prior to commenting on that, I really like interviewing and working with athletes for a couple of reasons. One, I think there’s an immense amount to be successful in what you do, or any type of professional sport. You have to have an amazing amount of discipline, you can’t get to the very highest levels as you have.
Without having that discipline, I feel that that’s such an important element in business, I think there’s a big crossover there. I also feel that the focus element of being able to focus on one thing, drive it home, and have that discipline combined with the focus really, really builds success. So do you want to talk to us a little bit about your career? What’s it been like? You know, what’s the ride been? Like? What’s the journey been like? And you know, how you got started and everything, we just dive straight back. Take us right back? Before we get into this amazing business that you’ve created.
Yeah, sure. You’ll have to tell me if I’m boring your life. But I’ll give you a minute.
Why, and I’m sure you won’t, I feel that, you know, for the audiences, I think it’s really, really important because so many people, especially in a business journey, start off at point. And in order to reach their heights, they need to realize that it’s a journey. And no one knows where they are so successful. Overnight. There’s some ups and downs and bumps on the road. And I think it’s really important to learn about those things, you know, from people.
Yeah. And I’d say I’d be I wouldn’t be that sort of overnight, sort of career. So yeah, I’d fully back that, there are companies that can flick it on within, you know, a year and pump it but they are the minority by far, a lot of like careers or businesses very much would have followed the path of, I guess, my career in rugby. So I started with, you’d like to go down to your local minis. And you know, I follow my brother down who, who, you know, I got to have two brothers. So that sort of competitiveness is very much bred into young people.
So I thought following him down to rugby, always trying to talk to him he got some county honors. And I was like, well, let’s see where we get to this. So probably took it a little bit too far. But yeah, and ended up getting quite late. It wasn’t any part of academies or anything like that. So I got a trial off the back of school and went straight into private school. Yes, pretty much straight into an academy off the back of that at Saracens and spent the next you know, 10 to 12 years there, and that was like a proper growth, sort of period.
So I was very skinny, I was probably not the best rugby player. But I could definitely work hard. And I think within that, like there’s, you know, having a good group of players, a good group of coaches, Lent lent it very well, to me having the ability to go to work quite hard. So that was like, the thing that kind of pushed me through, I’d say. From there picked up, you know, your, your, your standard, sort of your first Cup game, your first premiership game, first European game. I was lucky enough to get some games with England off the back of that. It’s kind of like snowballed from there. And managed to have a really good group of lads who, you know, enjoyed a heap of memories with on and off-field. And I’m unbelievably grateful.
And you said, you said you weren’t skinny and you weren’t the best player? What did you say, really? You attributed hard work to that? So, how did you work harder than other people? What was your approach towards that actually, working hard because, you know, a lot of people can sometimes feel like they’re working hard. And the proof in the pudding, you obviously did work really awkward you sang initially, you weren’t the best player, and you weren’t the best build for it. But you went on to then rise through the ranks, what do you think it was about you that enabled you to do that?
Probably the family stuff. My dad and my mom who, you know, had us three kids and still working, pretty much full time, my father, who is one of those guys who just quietly just cracked on with everything, to a point where, like, you know, he just grafted unbelievably hard. So definitely some are really lucky enough to have some good role models in that sense. But I got caught up in a group that was really willing to work hard. And of that group, pretty much all of us ended up playing international rugby, you know, and getting all the, the highlights that come with a decent team in terms of winning trophies, and making some good memories.
So definitely lucky that like, there’s about three, four, probably about six of us who, who are from the same sort of group, same timings, and, like, managed to push each other unbelievably hard. And I guess that’s like, when you get a group in a startup, and you’re like, yeah, everyone passing off each other, everyone’s sort of making the extra effort, and always challenging each other, and they care for each other, and that sort of environment we had.
And that was a really good core group, which to be fair to 1000s, they kept that core group together for a very long time, and off the back of that, they could then build the foundations and, you know, in other areas, and you know, so yeah, so I’d say, a lot of, you know, obviously, you worked hard yourself, but the surroundings kind of make you want to work hard, and they did an unbelievable job of culture, but also of keeping that group together.
Absolutely. One of the things I say to my business fans, I gave them like a four step process to sort of conquering new challenges. And step number four, is to get yourself an environment of winners. Because if you are in an environment of winners, you naturally raise your game to be at that level, right? And it sounds like you, you really benefited from that in a big, big way. So that’s awesome stuff. So you’ve been in rugby now you said 12 years? Or was it a bit longer than that? Overall, now?
Yeah, that sounds like 12 years. And then and like, I’d grown up south of London, I lived north of London for 12 years, and I needed to do something different. So off the back of the World Cup in 2019, which was in Japan. You know, I got to experience that it was unbelievable, we ended up losing the final, which is probably one I still cry about most nights, but you know, these things happened and obviously made me stronger and all that, but it would have been nice to win it.
But I think like, off the back I was pretty open to. I should probably go and do something a little bit different before I come back and you know, retire for good and you sort of use the efforts that I’ve done through rugby to give me a different experience. So I’ve been in Japan for the last one and a half seasons, and I’ll finish up here in the next three months and then head back and finish it all up and head into business, which we love.
Yeah, awesome. I’ve watched Japan like, you know, I’ve never been to Japan. I’ve never been to Japan. So it’s meant to be pretty cool, right? Yeah.
If you haven’t already thought of the people who haven’t already started stuff it right at the top of the list and do it for good. Good like 10 days or so because it is just so different but the culture, the food, you really feel like you’re in a different world rather than a different country? It’s very different from what we’ve got back home in a beautiful way I think it’s…
Did that influence you by saying that in different environments you feel that it’s in front of us that influences decisions in your career in business and in some ways, or how’s that? What kind of influence has been in Japan for the last year and a half pedaling?
Yeah, a big over that, to be fair, like, was super, especially in rugby or, or an elite sport you, like, everything gets done for you, your protein shakes are on in front of you, when you finish the gym, your lunches, cook, your forms are filled out, you’ll get houses, you’ll get all the stuff like, laid out in front of you, it’s all sort of your agent does heaps as well. So very sheltered.
And for me, it was like just stepping out and doing something completely different. definitely challenging. And, you know, I left at a time where I was still playing for England. So, it was a brave enough decision, but something which I thought I had to do in terms of growth. And yeah, I learned heaps like this. I think England this is, this is not I love England, in terms of the country and the people. Like, I’m also a grumpy bastard as well.
But like, we are quite… You’ll sit on a train and everyone’s on their phone, no one’s speaking to anyone. I think, you know, when you come over here, and there’s foreigners in my team from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, you know, a good range of different people and clearly Japanese players as well. You just get a different flavor for how people live? And I think, yeah, there’s just a good group of people and you realize that, you know, there’s north and south of London, and people do it differently. Like, they are more open, they are more chatty. And that’s something that, you know, I hope to definitely bring back with me and, and something I probably pride myself on, prior to turning out as well.
Awesome. So how did your business idea come about? I’ve had a look at the branding of four or five looks amazing, but I was brilliant, you know, and, and there are some sports people looking at that area, right? And then you seem to have taken to it really early and gone out and, you know, getting into it. How did you become aware of the products? First of all, was it something that you use personally? Is it something that you? Or how did it come about? And then what is it that made you want to throw your weight behind that and build that business? I think it’d be interesting to know.
Yeah, so it first came about in 2018, when water took a compound called CBD off the banned substances list. And me and Dom, the other co-founder who’s also a professional athlete, we were both having injuries and both had surgeries.
So ,Dom in January 2018, myself in February and we’re just looking at what else we could take, what else we could do to get back on the field and CBD was available to us and got some really good genuine benefit out of it. So I think off the back of that we’re looking at okay, well we are tested athletes, we do need to make sure we’re you know consuming the right stuff. And there just wasn’t enough out there that really satisfied us that we could, you know, take it without I guess keeping us awake at night.
So, one about creating our own brand subsequently since then have liked have gone quite heavily into into the multivitamins and sort of nutrition range, nonCBD nutrition range, which is like and that to me is like quite an interesting topic like you look at definitely the stuff we would have been taking as professional athletes and you know when you get proper nutrition is to break it down and look at what’s going on.
But so much of it is for marketing claims and so much is just like it’s got this amount in for this and so it just didn’t really sit too well with us. And off the back of that we kind of created products, which as athletes we knew would benefit us and then looked at okay, well we can use these marketing claims and so on and so on.
So I guess the emphasis was to bring about a trusted decent product and yeah, off the back of that kind of just snowballed really like we’re into boots we’re into next and number of other retailers coming up you know and creating some some really good partnerships with kind of top sports clubs, but also you know, a rack of really interesting investors and, and like the whole sort of the whole, I guess off field. Business pieces has just given me heaps of energy which shocks me a bit about how much energy and how like, drawn in it was I thought I could, you know, on a brief scale go right, I could build this up over five years and then sort of retire.
But you know, as you said, I’ve retired today because I can’t ignore it anymore. We’ve got sort of seven. Yeah, we’ve got like people are responsible and responsible for people’s wages and so on, which is just quite, you know, to do that sort of half in half out it doesn’t, you know, like you said at the beginning, athletes do well, because they can focus quite hard on things. And that’s something which I need to do now with the business. Absolutely.
And exactly what you’re saying the thing about business, is, it’s forever challenging, you know, you’ve always got these new challenges, it’s probably why it’s drawing you in so much, because you see the new challenges coming up and excites, you know, that’s what I love about and I think that’s what an entrepreneur has to love about business is the fact that there’s always something to do, there’s always the next challenge, there is always the growth, and there’s always that opportunity to step up and go up the levels. Right.
It sounds like you’ve thrown yourself into that, you know, in a big, big way. So what are some of the products that you’ve created that you’re proud of? And who is your client of your target market? Are you looking to serve other athletes? Are you looking to serve people that have injuries or just want to get healthier? What’s the target market? And what products are you really proud of so far that you’ve created?
Yeah, so we’ve got a good range of CBD products. So kind of like some joint gels, some muscle bombs, but obviously also. We’ve got a pro range on our, on our CBD side, which you know, spent forever trying to get the right people to test it to the right levels. That’s BSCG certified, which is brilliant. And then on the on the vitamin side, again, we’ve like we’ve got really good nutritionists work with us to, just to make sure we’ve got, like, I know, everyone’s everyone’s a decent product, and we’ve got a decent product, but we’re actually really proud of the product.
I guess the proof’s in the pudding for us is sort of the partnerships that we are building, they’re coming from the nutritionist and saying like, right, well, we would kind of love to have these boys on board, because the product is actually something that’s pretty useful. So that’s a good validation for us.
But yeah, I think in terms of target market, it really is, I guess, like myself and Darwin and the journey, and we can live that, but you know, quite happily. So Dom retired now. You know, he’s kind of 35/36, really keen to keep bringing, you know, to keep being active. And I think for me, that’s a journey, which we can really buy into and believe, wholeheartedly. So everything I want to do posts, my career is about staying active for as long as possible. And that’s kind of tied into sleep ties into, you know, body maintenance, and so on.
So, that’s kind of where we sit and wisdom is such a huge area of of that, that sort of 30 to 50, where, you know, that they’ve, they’ve had a good life in terms of sport before or you know, but they just want to keep maintaining active and they want to keep whether it’s brain health, gut health, you know, that there’s, I think off the back of COVID, there’s been a big eye opening in terms of people’s general health and well being and that that sector, I think he’s massively massively under sort of catered for at the moment. And that’s the target market, I guess.
Awesome. So in terms of you being involved in business and jumping into this, this new world for you? What are some of the early lessons you have had for you, George, that you might be able to help some of the people that are listening to our lessons have you had so far, because I think everybody’s journey is slightly different.
What typically happens is people start off in business, and they’ve got a few skills that they’re really, really good at. And then they realize, actually, I’m missing a bit over here, or I’m missing a bit. And you have to develop yourself, don’t you? Right? So for example, when I started off, I had a great career in sales. But I didn’t know much about the market, right? I knew nothing about marketing. So I’m sitting there ready to serve people, but I’ve got no one coming.
So I’ve got to develop the marketing side to get the clients. You know, the next thing that I learned is that alright, now I’m good at marketing, I’m good at sales. I really don’t know the numbers very well. So now something needs to develop on the number side. What are some of the lessons that you’ve had in your early stages? Would you say that, you know, either challenge or just skills that you’ve developed or built upon?
But don’t know where to start on this one because it’s you’re completely right people, normal people who make businesses they’ll make a business because like say they’re unbelievably good at marketing and then I’ve seen a gap, or they’re really good at finance and they can hire marks are like me and Dom. We were athletes so we don’t really have those like our skills in either legal finance, marketing, whatever it is social media.
So for us, it’s like, okay, well, this is an eye-opener. And I guess had to the way that we’ve had to counteract that is just to get a heap of investors on board, which can really help us and sort of getting really build a bank of mentors around us that, you know, if we’ve got an issue with, say, marketing, then we go and it’s, you know, we want to do an affiliate program or something, we’ve got, like four or five people we can go to and ask, look, what’s your opinion on this, this and this, and we’ll put forward a plan, and then those people can kind of bat back them away, back them down and sort of tweak it. So that’s kind of how we’ve done it.
I think that’s everyone in their circles will have groups of people who are very good at something, and I think the biggest, I guess the biggest strength we’ve tried to pull from, from being an athlete is like, you know, every week we’ve been told, okay, well, you did this rubbish, you need to improve on this, you need to, you know, and there’s that whole question that sort of feedback loop to, you know, to keep learning. So I think, from our point of view, to have that. And to have a group of, I guess, mentors, allows us to really, I just..
The smart way, right? Because that is the smart way, you know, a lot of people don’t do that. The fastest way to get that transference of knowledge, right, from somebody else already got the knowledge because of the same way. I think it’s been a rugby player, it’s had tons of coaches, it’s probably easy for you to do that. But sometimes people when they start in business, they don’t do that. And their mentality is they want to figure it all out themselves. And what could take him a month takes him a decade, you know, see make much faster progress, by working with those people that know exactly what they’re doing in the area.
Alright, so that’s, you know, that’s something that’s come to your attention for sure. You know, joy has been something that you’ve gone like, wow, actually, I really love the branding, or I really love the marketing or I love the having these meetings, or is this something that it’s kind of lit that fire in you that you weren’t expecting?
Yeah, I’m probably a people person. So I like the network, the investor bits, and leaning into sort of partnerships now. I really enjoy that sort of building relationships and creating something a bit more genuine than just like, you know, your surface level stuff. So yeah, that definitely is where I sit. But I mean, everything’s like everything is everything’s fine, I guess. But the first time we go to booths, and we’re sitting in the lobby, and, you know, we’re a little bit nervous that we’re about to pitch booths for, you know, to take our business.
We go in, and there’s people coming out in suits and briefcases and we’re in like, I’m actually on crutches and Dom’s got a black eyes. So it’s like, what is this? You know, and you get in the room and it’s like, if you’ve got passion for your business, and you believe it, then you know, those sort of things shine through so it’s kind of like just trying to shake off the fact that okay, well, you might not be the you know, what someone sees as a typical business person or have the typical business idea but like, if you’ve got that passion for it definitely shines through and, more often than not, like, you know, the over the the people that we’ve gone for help or like they are more surprised that you’re asking them questions and you know, trying to learn off them.
And that’s the biggest thing for me is I’ve seen so many people go oh, that’s like it’s really nice to be asked a question around something they’ve got an expertise at so they do. Yeah, I definitely implore that to quiz people who are experienced because more often than not, they don’t get that enough and they are at a point in their lives most likely that you know, they’re dead keen to help other people and and they want to share that knowledge and and obviously they’ve done it all before so it kind of if you can savior, you know, 10 grand, making a mistake, then absolute brainer.
And that’s being coachable, being willing to learn and being humble, isn’t it and people just love that right? And that won’t help you. That’s it, you know, brilliant observation. There are some amazing things and what’s next then George, where we’re now going full time in like even actual retirement stay. We’re going full time. What are you going to be doing day to day if you have got a plan of what you’re going to be attacking? Or is that let’s come in now.
With a decent business plan pre-Christmas. And just to give us a bit of structure because we can go wildly off track if, if left alone, it is amazing to see what two simple rugby players can end up doing, which you shouldn’t be doing from a business plan point of view. So we’ve got a nice business plan, keep us on track. And I’ll probably be leaning more towards partnerships and really growing that out. Like I said, we’ve got some really good Samson’s unless the Tigers were the official wellness providers, but also jumping into a heap of other really exciting partnerships, which I guess really show that, you know, the product is that is the key focus in all of them.
And that’s something which is pretty exciting to us. But yeah, just like a big part will be the culture side as well. And making sure that we’re building that team nicely. And using, I guess, the team culture bits, that would be a strength from our point of view from athletes and sort of, and teams to try and drag that into, into our team back home. But yeah, so that scaling, more investment coming through at the moment, and more products as well. So we’ve got our hands full, and just trying to keep ourselves as streamlined as possible, with some flexibility.
So in terms of the listeners, and they want you to try the products, there’s one observation that I want to say, because I’ve worked with a lot of people in the US who have become resellers or distributors or even created their own CBD products. And what their blocks are, obviously there are some advertising blocks around the product that is the pianist at some point will be lifted, right, because of the change in attitude towards the products and how the product works. And I know personally, I know from chatting with Parkinson’s that using the product just had amazing results.
So I understand the benefits in a big way that like so many levels that can be used. But a lot of people come up when it comes to those products, the excuse of how to market, but it seems that you’ve got you’ve really zoned in on the right way to market and build those partners can’t build those relationships, you know, getting yourself out there talking about a product. So for somebody who’s listening today, they can obviously go to the website or attend a website address so they can go and check it out.
Where did the name come from? By the way?
It’s a slight just nod to the fact that me and Dom position numbers are four and five. So we played together and it was a fitting name for us.
And what made them the perfect partner for you? You’ve worked with a lot of good people.
We are extremely different so that if someone puts something in front of you always, oh, you know, you can make this product or you could do this, don’t like, let’s go do this. I’ll be like, whoa, was like, I’ll be super negative like Nana, no way, no way. So we are very different. We see things extremely differently. But at no point do we let differences kind of get in our way. He’s really brilliant.
I think you need to find people around you that can give feedback to but they don’t get like they don’t get their hackles up and they don’t take it personally like, is the biggest thing I’ve found with teams is like, the goal has to be the team winning all the teams have been successful, being a good culture. And that like you should be able to say anything to a teammate, as long as it’s coming from a good place, and you genuinely think it will help the business.
So all of us have anything that a normal person would probably disagree on and maybe start getting a bit pissy about it. It all comes from a good place. It all comes from we think it’s going to help the business and it’s sort of like you hear a lot of teams when team first so anything has to be team first. I think that’s very much how we assess our sort of columns. You know, and everyone, everyone might, you know, disagree at some points. But I think that’s the method we’ve taken..
Having that same focus is gonna certainly take you places. So what would be the best product for somebody to sort of check out first that you offer? For somebody who’s listening to like, Would it be best for them to perhaps have a look at would you say?
I think from the nutrition point of view, I think men with female motivations are absolutely bang on this. There’s so on-point in terms of like, what’s actually good and obviously, clearly, for males and females. So, they’ve been formulated specifically so not with me and Domino kitchen with a spoon. We’ve got some really good nutritionists. Yeah, that’s a definite favorite of mine and then the CBD side really depends on what you’re up to. But if like some of those, I guess the muscle rub it’s a cooling menthol rub infused with CBD and that’s a beautiful one, you get heaps of good feedback off the back of that. But obviously, the oils are also the best sellers. And I guess for a reason.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks so much for coming on today, George. Best of that, I’m sure you don’t need best of luck, because I think you’re going to absolutely smash it my friend. But you know, I hope you and I really, maybe I look forward to catching up with you in the future and seeing how this develops. Because I think there’s big things on the horizon. So congratulations on your career. And now your retirement and this new chapter nine, and I’ll be looking out and, you know, looking to say are you doing some? Sure you’re gonna do great. So thanks very much. And you’ve been a very welcome guest today.
Thank you very much, and unemployed people you know, reach out to the people, especially if you have to be in a startup phase to reach out to the people who they’ve got around them and really quiz and really ask them because they definitely like that. But also failing that if there’s anything we think we could do or possibly help with super collaborative as well. So just get in touch.
I’ll put it in. Thank you so much. So thanks, everybody, for listening to Business Growth Secrets today with George Kruis, some amazing stuff, go and check out for five amazing new brands in the CBD and nutrition space. And I look forward to seeing you in our next episode. If you haven’t already. Don’t forget to go and hit that five star review to win and keep renewing amazing interviews like today. Thank you.
So hi, everybody, Adam here. And I hope you love today’s episode. Hope you thought it was fabulous. And if you did, I’d like to ask you a small favor. Could you jump over and go and give the podcast a review? Of course I’ll be super grateful if that is a five star review by putting our all into this podcast for you, delivering you the content, giving you the secrets and if you’ve enjoyed it, please go and give us a review and talk about what your favorite episode is.
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