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  • Writer's pictureEmily Garnham

Five startup businesses to watch: Spotter, Deskmate, Inkpact, Secrets of Green, Manilife

You have stumbled across Tartle Media's inaugural monthly round up of five startups to watch. These early-stage, micro or small businesses have come to our attention because they are either making waves with their target customers, nailing it on social media, or collecting some impressive press coverage.

This month I'm flagging a site built exclusively for personal trainers, a clever cardboard desk topper that promises to transform your workspace and improve your posture, a company that's bringing handwritten correspondence back to the business world, an online marketplace inspired by nature, and the best peanut butter I've ever tasted...


Revenue-generating site for personal trainers

It can take years for a personal trainer to build a loyal client base. While that happens, they can struggle to find new business and to diversify beyond the traditional model of selling time by the hour.

Spotter lets fitness trainers earn commission for recommending sports nutrition products, supplements and equipment to clients.

It has partnered with almost every major supplement brand on the UK market and the site doubles as a price comparison tool so trainers can recommend the lowest-priced products, or share exclusive discounts, and help their clients save cash while they earn commission.

Spotter takes 25%, while trainers receive the majority at 75%.

After a pilot, Spotter was launched in February 2018 by five tech-minded co-founders who pooled their skills. All of them had worked together before in price comparison businesses, and the CEO - Julia Stent - has an MSc in Strength & Conditioning, and is a qualified nutritionist.


Cardboard standing desk converters

Deskmate standing desk converter


Sitting is the new smoking. Did you know? Studies have shown that standing at your desk for three days a week is equivalent to running 10 marathons a year. It also improves the body’s ability to process sugars.

But standing desks that can convert from sitting to standing at the push of a button can cost a small fortune.

Deskmate is standing desk converter for £29 plus delivery. It's made of cardboard that packs flat, but can be folded to create a strong base to support your monitor or laptop. The Minimate is smaller and more portable.

N.B. Standing to work can be tiring at first. Build up your standing hours little by little and keep checking your posture to make sure that a) you're not shifting on your hips and placing all your weight on one leg and b) that you're not leaning your hips forward and resting against the desk.


Handwritten business correspondence

(Pic: @Inkpact Instagram)

Inkpact turns online communications into personalised handwritten letters and notes for businesses who need pen and ink campaigns at scale.

It's a refreshingly analogue departure from the other marketing approaches we are normally bombarded with, and because snail mail is so rarely interesting these days, the open rate is apparently 100%.

It's potentially brilliant for writing apology notes for customer service that went wrong, or – on a more positive note – to thank people who funded you after a crowdfunding round, or for personalised 'cold' approaches.

Icing on the cake: they can add a wax seal for £1 per letter.

Secrets of Green

Bringing nature into your living space

Ulrike Schulz, founder of Secrets of Green


This is more than just an online store. It's a marketplace featuring the work little known designers, illustrators, artists and craftspeople. What ties it all together is the concept of bringing the outside in.

There are cushions shaped like leaves, potted cactuses made of felt, handcrafted planters, terrariums and intricate botanical prints. The idea is to bring the natural world into urban living spaces so we can reconnect with nature.

All the products and brands are curated by founder Ulrike Schulz, whose inspiring Instagrammery has earned her more than 30k followers to date.


Best peanut butter I ever tasted

(Pic: @Manilife_ Instagram)

I have eaten a lot of nut butters in my life, but never have I felt compelled to buy giant jars by the kilo before.

That all changed when I found Manilife, which is just hi-oleic (good fat like the stuff you find in avocados) peanuts and a pinch of sea salt. No evil palm oil and no sugar.

I think this is a good example of a business with a simple, high-quality product getting its branding right. It's built around a simple story: the founder came across the mani peanut when he was travelling in Argentina, and he now partners with a farm in Cordoba to produce Manilife.

I’m told their ‘deep roast’ variety was invented by accident after someone left the peanuts roasting in the oven for too long. Another good example of storytelling.

I’ve watched with interest as Manilife has appeared in local stores in my home town and even turned up in miniature in my Gousto recipe box as an ingredient.

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