The Startups 20: Mindful Chef

Sustainably sourced meal boxes delivered straight to your front door

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Founders: Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries, and Myles Hopper
Founded: 2014
Website: appearances

The Mindful Chef story

The meal box subscription service wasn’t a new concept when Mindful Chef came to the market. Hello Fresh – one of the pioneers of the movement – had already been around for three years.

But the three founders, or the three mindful musketeers as we’ll call them, wanted to create something different. They wanted to create a recipe box service that put nutrition, sustainability, and the environment at the forefront.

Inspired by a seaside community’s dedication to devouring the fresh fish caught off its shores, Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries, and Myles Hopper wanted to deliver the same experience to hungry homes across the country.

Having to rely on their own savings to found Mindful Chef, the company had very humble beginnings. But as more and more people became aware of these mindful meal boxes that went the extra mile, it wasn’t long before investment flooded in.

In fact, in 2016 alone, Mindful Chef secured over £1m in an oversubscribed round on equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs.

Thanks to its range of gluten and dairy free sustainably sourced recipe boxes, its support of small farms, and its fair, flexible subscription model, Mindful Chef has seen endorsements from the likes of Sir Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton.

With two incredibly successful crowdfunding campaigns under its belt, a record of 10 million ingredients delivered, and a five star TrustPilot rating, Mindful Chef has all the ingredients for a place in the Startups 20.

The team at Mindful Chef said “it feels great” to be featured in the Startups 20. And we couldn’t be more pleased to bring to light some of their amazing achievements over the years.

Why did we choose Mindful Chef as one of the Startups 20?

Not many companies have crowdfunded as successfully as Mindful Chef. In fact, the reception was so positive that in 2016, a crowdfunding campaign raised the company £1m – and just a year later, another crowdfunding campaign raised £2m in just 12 days.

And we can see why Mindful Chef attracted so many investors. Not only did its sustainable approach speak to people on a personal level, but so did the values of the company itself.

When asked about the key to the success of the brand, placing a “big focus on values” (mindful, personal, and unafraid) came out on top.

“Remaining true to [our] values sits at the heart of our business, and we try to ensure they are intrinsic in everything we do. From the recipes we create, to how we treat each other at work, how we speak to our community, and our wider impact on the environment.”

2018 was a big year for Mindful Chef. It reached its one million meals milestone, registered a team of 14 full time employees, and saw turnover increase by a whopping 750% on the previous year.

It was also a big year for its charity venture – a partnership with One Feeds Two. The partnership means that one school meal is donated for every Mindful Chef mealbox sold. In 2018, the number of meals donated reached 600,000.

To top off an outstanding year, Mindful Chef reached coveted B Corp status in September 2018. To put that achievement into perspective, there are 5.9 million small to medium sized businesses in the UK, and only 175 have achieved that status. Being a B Corp means Mindful Chef is dedicated to creating a better world for customers, employees, and society as a whole.

As Mindful Chef continues to take the mealbox market by storm, we’re glad to see that it hasn’t steered away from its mission – to make healthy eating easy. In fact, the company has found ways to make it even easier for people to achieve a healthier diet.

“As we’ve grown as a business, we’ve really listened to our community, so we know they want more from us to help achieve this goal. […]. We’re now challenging ourselves to do more and become more relevant, more often across the week; whether that be through our frozen range of meals and smoothies, or our quick option soups and broths.”

Mindful Chef in 2020

Mindful chef recipe box

As the pandemic unfolded and supermarkets buckled under the pressure, Mindful Chef quickly became a go-to alternative. “At the beginning, we were one of the only options for food when all of the major grocery stores stopped taking on new customers and shelves had been stripped bare.”

In fact, after experiencing “years of growth in a period of weeks and months”, the business had to double its team to cope with its influx of new customers. As a result of the pandemic, Mindful Chef tells us that “sales are more than 100% ahead 2020’s targets”. And despite the pressure, the team really went “above and beyond throughout the crisis to support the business through an exceptional period of growth.”

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Written by:
Aimee is Startups' resident expert in business tech, products, and services. She loves a great story and enjoys chatting to the startups and small business community. Starting her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she has a healthy respect for self-starters and local services.
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