90. Mr Lee’s Noodles Company
The Bournemouth business bringing you healthy gluten-free instant rice noodles in a cup...
Founder: Damien Lee
Founded: June 2015 (launched September 2016)
Instant pot noodles but not as you know it: Mr Lee’s Noodles Company specialises in gluten-free, gourmet, and healthy rice noodles using noodles sourced directly from Vietnam, real meat, and no MSG’s, artificial flavourings or additives.
Featuring six “authentic” flavours – including tai chi chicken and penang chicken curry laksa – Mr Lee’s Noodles lay claim to having the fewest calories, salt, sugar and saturated fats than any other noodle range currently on the market.
The business also has a unique selling point; alongside online sales on its website and via Amazon, it has created its own ‘Noodle Kiosk’ vending machines to deliver its cup noodles. These kiosks incorporate a cashless payment system and the ability to play third-party and in-house adverts with the first machine on trial with Bournemouth University.
While the start-up is inspiring in itself, holding listings with catering company The Compass Group and in talks with “major players” in travel and airline industries, it’s Mr Lee’s Noodle’s namesake founder who provides business inspiration in abundance.
Serial entrepreneur Damien Lee created the business on the back of a life-changing experience – after being diagnosed with late stage four cancer and told he had a few weeks to live.
Lee says that, as a single dad with two sons, “accepting defeat was simply not an option” and so he went raw and clean with his diet and took on 16 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy. 12 months later, Lee was told his cancer had gone into remission.
Lee craved instant noodles while undergoing his chemotheraphy but found they were not allowed to be a part of his diet as they contained a “multitude of unnatural and unhealthy ingredients” and it was this craving that would lead to his business idea.
Once Lee had fought off cancer, he decided to disrupt a market “traditionally littered with brands full of poor nutritional value” and create an instant noodle that wasn’t bad for you.
Fast forward two years and Lee is now looking at taking Mr Lee’s Noodles global, targeting a sector where nearly 100 billion instant noodle meals are consumed each year.