People’s Champion finalist 2017: Mr Lee’s Noodles
This emerging food brand has redefined the instant pot noodle and given it a healthier, more upmarket twist. Does the Bournemouth start-up get your vote?
Start-up name: Mr Lee’s Noodles
Founder: Damien Lee
Started in: September 2016
Based in: Bournemouth
Business description: Healthy, gluten-free instant cup noodles
The Mr Lee’s Noodles story:
Damien Lee is firm believer that ‘all noodles are not created equal’ and his namesake food brand Mr Lee’s Noodles goes against the grain by offering customers healthy, gluten-free instant cup rice noodles.
Low in sugar with no artificial colourings, preservatives, MSGs or additives, Mr Lee’s Noodles lays claim to being significantly healthier than its competitors.
Its oriental noodle range, which includes six flavor variations and two vegan options, retails online and via key partners in travel catering such as the Compass Group, Rail Gourmet, and Australia’s Jet Start Airlines.
The business has also upped the ante of its offering by creating its very own ‘Noodle Kiosk’ vending machines to deliver its cup noodles and advertise using smart targeting, which have been successfully launched with Bournemouth University.
Lee, who employs a team of 10, came up with the idea after being diagnosed with late stage four cancer; news that made him change the way he perceived his diet and “the unhealthy products he used to love”.
Having successfully fought his battle against cancer –defying doctor’s odds of only having weeks to live – Lee sought to disrupt the market with a cup noodle product “free of nasties”. And the industry has taken note.
One year since launch, the business now operates internationally with sales in the UK, America, Scandinavia, Australia and Germany and expects to sell in excess of 25 million noodle cups, per year, internationally by 2022.
Mr Lee’s Noodles also has a big fan base. In June 2017, the start-up secured £783,787 investment from the crowd in a funding round via Seedrs – more than doubling its target raise of £375,00, while team GB decathlon runner Ashley Bryant is a brand ambassador.
Its growth ambitions? “We hope to cater for the entire UK rail network by the end of 2018, and further our export across the globe.”
Why Mr Lee’s Noodles made our shortlist:
With an inspiring entrepreneur at its helm and an exciting, innovative brand backed by travel giants and armchair investors, Mr Lee’s Noodles has all the ingredients of a sustainable, fast-growth business.
By focusing on the travel catering industry, rather than aiming for mainstream supermarkets as is often the case in the F&B space, the brand has put itself in prime position to meet the eyes of thousands of prospective customers. Food start-ups take note!