Dan Murray-Serter

Resilience is the single-most important trait

HOF Entrepreneurs Dan Murray Serter 1920X1080

Published: 10/03/2022

Dan Murray-Serter had been an entrepreneur for 10 years when he started to struggle with insomnia and anxiety. It led to longer-term tussle with his mental health that was ultimately resolved not by a psychologist, or by pharmaceuticals, but by a dietician. The dietician prescribed a series of supplements, designed to improve his brain health. His symptoms abated.

He was surprised that the answer could be found in the right nutrients. The dietician said that was a credible and obvious way to solve mental health problems, but there remained little awareness. Dan’s business partner had had a similar experience with some gut issues. He had also found supplements alleviated his symptoms.

The problem, it seemed, was the reputation of supplements. Dan looked into it and found that some of that poor reputation was well-founded: “They can be full of junk and the industry itself is full of charlatans. I found there was a vast difference between quality supplements and other supplements.” This was the foundation of Heights.

How it started

Dan had been running a company called Gravel, the UK’s number one shopping and ecommerce app. He had started in entrepreneurship relatively young, having spent three or four years working in advertising. However, it had not been his ambition: “My dad was a business owner and had had a lot of health issues from the stress of running his own business. I was pretty put off. However, opportunities came up and it ended up being the path I took. I got a bit more comfortable, took a few more risks and then before I knew it, I was doing it full time.”

Dan was compelled to explore the idea of supplements for brain health. However, he had a steep learning curve. He had no expertise in supplements and no idea how to develop the product. However, he managed to recruit Dr Tara Swart as chief scientific officer. She had written a best-selling book on the brain and also completed a PHD in neuropharmacology – “in other words, the nutrients your brain needs for you to have the best life,” he says.

He also hired Sophie Medlin as head of nutrition research. Dan says: “She had worked on gut issues and is very commercial and knows how to work with nutrient suppliers. All of our ingredients are from different places and are in the most bioavailable forms - blueberry extract from Italy and Omega from Nova Scotia algae farms, for example.

Every single thing has been sourced to be the best of the best.
Dan Murray Serter

The company sought to iterate the product to make it better and better, based on research with consumers. The aim is to create the best possible version of this initial product before moving into other areas. Dan adds: “We’ve been doing science trials to make sure it’s actually working and having an impact.”

How it’s going

However, in the longer-term, they aim to create a full ecosystem, building a whole new category. “Anything to do with the science of how to take care of your brain is our remit,” he says. That means not just creating the right products, but challenging how mental health is managed. He adds:

The talk is always about what to do after you’ve had a problem, but we believe brain care is a category to be built in its own right
Dan Murray Serter

This is all about the things you can do on a regular basis around well-being. This stops you having difficult episodes and helps you live a longer healthier happier life.”

Heights operates fully remotely and in March 2022 they launched in the USA . Dan says: “The UK has been a tough place to start because we are a nation of cynics. We hope the US may be marginally easier to crack!”

2022 also saw the group launch their first probiotic. He says: “This is also designed to improve mood and cognition. It has been in development for two years. We want to focus on what we do best and make sure that if they’re doing anything around the brain, they come to Heights.”

Where it’s going

Dan says they want to make one product that’s the best in the world, but also challenge embedded thinking about supplements. He adds: “The answer is focusing on our company values – to build trust and be trusting. We want to provide more evidence, which gives us more trust and more credibility. We’re a B Corp, so we’ve done the whole sustainable thing from day one. We have built the foundations for an enduring business. Sometimes that means going a little slower, but we want to be around for the long-term.”

As for Dan himself, he is on “a consistent journey of self-awareness.” He has developed his resilience over the years. He says: “It can still affect me. I have an ego, after all, but it’s about being able to think long-term.

Resilience is the single-most important thing as an entrepreneur because you get hurt non-stop. In the end, you find you can move on, focus on the bigger picture. This allows you to take the next step.
Dan Murray Serter