Barnabas Huang

I want to apply the lessons to my real-life business needs.
Discover SIM GE Business owner Barnabas Huang (in green shirt) with his muscle-bound sales consultants HE HAS just turned 30 and barely five years after graduating with a business degree, but Barnabas Huang is already raking in more than $5 million turnover in his health and fitness supplements business in the last financial year. Barnabas who once has 14-inch biceps and 38-inch chest, is literally an embodiment of what he sells. The 2011 title-holder of the Mr Singapore (pageant) is a driven entrepreneur who started his business at age 19 when he was a student at a local polytechnic. “With $3,800 borrowed from my mom, I bought over the fitness supplement stock from my fitness trainer who was closing down his shop,” he says. “But I didn’t know then what I was getting into. I didn’t even asked for the customer database when I bought the stock and ended up having to spent three to six months hunting for customers.” Now his NutriFirst business employs over 20 staff which include frontline fitness sales consultants (those with impressive biceps who advise customers on sports and nutrition supplements). Business education Experience alone, however, is not enough to manage a business well, so Barnabas enrolled in the SIM-RMIT University’s Bachelor in Business (Management) programme, majoring in Entrepreneurship. “I want to apply the lessons to my real-life business needs.” He graduated in 2010 and with the knowledge he gained from his studies, he hopes one day to be a business consultant, teaching newbies how to start and mind their own business. The experience in running his current business will add to his credibility, he says. “When I teach people how to mind their own business, I can use my own experience to show that I’ve practised what I’m preaching.” Strong is sexy Most orders are made online at the NutriFirst Web site ( although there are walk-in customers at the warehouse in Geylang East where you can browse the shelves stocked with lime-green bottles of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “revolutionary all-in-one” weight gainers, Omega-3 gels, and other protein supplements. Some of the products are for women, with the catchy tagline that “strong is the new sexy”. The protein supplements, says Barnabas, are for muscle growth, as well as for muscle recovery, repair and maintenance after a hard workout in the gym. The business rides on the fitness trend which has definitely picked up over the past years, with people willing to consume health supplements, he explains. That has helped to make NutriFirst successful, he adds. But to remain competitive, he and his staff focus a lot on service and after sales, detailed product consultation and customer loyalty programmes. For example, customers can accumulate points from their purchases and qualify for different membership tiers that come with permanent discounts. Studying success Barnabas admits he has not always been successful in what he did. In fact, he reveals he was a bad student in both primary and secondary school days. “I was a borderline case when I reached Secondary 4. So I decided to surprise my teacher and others who said I was poor in my studies.” He hired three tutors to coach him intensively in Science, Mathematics and Accounts, subjects that he was weak in. His N-level results were four A’s and one B. “When people told me I was lousy, I didn’t feel insulted; instead I felt inspired to go out to prove them wrong.” - Interviewed, posted online, June 24, 2014 Check out what Hollywood strong man Arnold consumes for a better bod at Barnabas’s store in Geylang East Ave 3; on the higher shelves, the stuff in the black bottles with pink labels is nutrition shake for women who think that “strong is the new sexy”