Secrets of Success: Leslie Kenny, Founder & CEO, Oxford Healthspan

Leslie Kenny, Founder & CEO of Oxford Healthspan, leads her company with a unique selling proposition focused on connecting clients with breakthrough molecules that support healthy aging.

Driven by personal experience and frustration with the slow pace of scientific breakthroughs reaching consumers, Kenny founded Oxford Healthspan to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and practical solutions for patients. The company’s core values of innovation, integrity, inspiration, impact, and empowerment guide its mission to bring safe and effective anti-aging products to market.

Team culture is integral to Oxford Healthspan, with a diverse team of experts dedicated to health and wellness. Flexibility and understanding around family responsibilities foster a supportive and inclusive work environment, ensuring team members can thrive both personally and professionally.

Technology plays a crucial role in Oxford Healthspan’s day-to-day operations, supporting inventory management, communication, and collaboration among distributed team members.

Competition is viewed positively as a driver of innovation and market growth. Oxford Healthspan believes that a thriving ecosystem of competitors benefits both consumers and companies, driving product innovation and awareness.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Leslie Kenny advises starting from a place of passion and conviction, emphasizing the importance of belief in one’s mission to weather the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Oxford Healthspan’s eco strategy includes plans to reduce plastic waste by introducing reusable containers for subscription customers, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

What is your USP?

We connect our clients with safe, effective, breakthrough molecules that support healthy aging. Our flagship product, Primeadine, contains spermidine and nobiliten, two molecules shown to activate autophagy, the body’s own ability to renew itself at the cellular level. We work closely with the Japanese scientists behind the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology and are the only foreign member of the Japan Autophagy Consortium, while also working with researchers on physiology, autophagy and spermidine at the University of Oxford.

What is the main problem you solve for your customers?

We give them access to safe, efficacious, science backed breakthrough molecules that slow down the aging process, while leading to visible benefits in hair, skin, and nails and felt benefits in sleep, energy and mood.

What made you start your business – did you want to rock the status quo, was it a challenge or a gap in the marketplace that you could fill?

I really entered the market as a patient who was frustrated with the time it takes to bring groundbreaking scientific discoveries in the lab to consumers. The therapy I used over 18 years ago to reverse my own lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, IVIg, still isn’t well known in spite of very good science showing it can have dramatic effects. This frankly just angered me after meeting so many other patients who had the same illnesses I was diagnosed with but who have been on ‘maintenance’ treatments for years. So when I learned about the benefits of spermidine but also that no one was prepared to bring it to the US in food-derived form because it couldn’t be patented, I decided I would do it. Sometimes if you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself!

What are your brand values?

Innovation, integrity, inspiration, impact and empowerment are our core values.

Do your values define your decision making process?

Absolutely. It’s one of the reasons that we adhere to such high sourcing and manufacturing standards.

Is team culture integral to your business?

I like to think so. We have 6 team members with degrees or certifications in biochemistry, nutrition, nutrigenomics, and health coaching.  Two of us are autoimmune patients who have had to find our own way to protocols that have worked with our unique biology, so our ethos of bringing the safest molecules that work for our clients while educating, empowering and inspiring them is very much at our core. All of us on the team also walk our talk around health, too – with a few healthy breaks around the holidays!

If team culture is integral to your business, what do you do to go the extra mile to to show your team you appreciate them?

We’re an all woman team which means most of us have family and household responsibilities too, so we all work flexibly while keeping professionalism around attending several key meetings each week. We are also understanding around the reality of being a woman with a career and a family and have had the occasional burbling toddler home sick in the background on calls.

In terms of your messaging do you think you talk directly to your consumers in a clear fashion?

As a consumer and patient myself, I try to communicate directly with our consumers wherever possible. Because we are a Direct-to-Consumer product, our Customer Service team has regular contact with our clients, as opposed to having a retailer in between us funneling messages to us. This allows us to respond more quickly to our customers’s needs and wants.

What’s your take on inflation and interest rates – are you going to pass that on to your customers or let your margins take a hit and reward customer loyalty in these tougher times?

We entered the market as a tiny player who had to take out MOQ’s that meant our per unit prices were higher. Now that we’ve grown and can manufacture at greater scale, our unit costs have largely remained the same, so we have been able to keep our prices stable without needing to increase prices, something which our customers appreciate!

How often do you assess the data you pull in and address your KPIs and why?

We do this weekly and then hold quarterly reviews. Being a small business means that we can quickly analyze the data and adapt to positively impact it. It’s all about being agile to constantly changing market changes and consumer preferences.

Is tech playing a much larger part in your day-to-day running of your company?

Inventory management is a big moving part for us so having access to excellent inventory management software is key.  We are also a distributed company with team members in the UK, US, Latin America and Asia Pacific, we communicate quite a lot using Slack, Trello and Zoom, .

What is your attitude to your competitors?

The world is big enough for multiple competitors and the more of us there are, the faster we will get the word out about the benefits of these wonderful molecules to human health and the better our products will become as we all stay abreast of one another’s innovations.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in business?

Always start from a place of passion and conviction. Start-ups can be hard work so when the going gets tough, you need to dig deep to stay with it. The more belief you have in what you are doing, the easier it will be for you to keep at it.

It can be a lonely and pressured place to be as the lead decision maker of the business. What do you do to relax, recharge and hone your focus?

Dance and go upside down! Dancing on the kitchen tiles with my headphones on to a great Latin Mix while cooking dinner honestly keeps me sane. I just get lost in the music and leave everything behind – that grounds me and allows me to keep the crazy hours a start-up founder inevitably has to keep. I also love going upside down in my FeetUp Trainer. You have to really concentrate to stay upside down for 10 minutes at a time – this forces out any other stresses you might have.

Do you believe in the 12 week work method or do you make much longer planning strategies?

While we have a quarterly component to our business planning, it’s part of a 6-quarter plan.

What is your company’s eco strategy?

As a supplement company, we are very aware of the environmental impact of the bottles that we use to sell our supplements in. We are about to move towards a re-usuable container for our subscription customers to place their supplements in once they receive them in a lighter weight pouch instead of a plastic bottle. This will decrease the carbon footprint when we ship while still giving the customer the same excellent product they expect.

What three things do you hope to have in place within the next 12 months?

Recruiting new talent to our ever growing team, sharing more groundbreaking products that work to our family of customers and getting the message out globally that we really can do something about aging by slowing it down!

Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.
Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.