People’s Champion finalist 2018: EatFirst
The phrase ‘gourmet ready meal’ might sound like an oxymoron, but EatFirst’s high-end fare is reshaping expectations. Is it worthy of your Peoples Champion vote?
Start-up name: EatFirst
Founder: Rahul Parekh
Started in: 2014
Based in: London
Business description: EatFirst delivers ready meals designed and created by award-winning chefs
The EatFirst story
The idea of gourmet ready-meals first came to Rahul Parekh whilst he was working long hours as an investment banker and was struggling to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
“I got tired of having Pret or Itsu for lunch every day, and the evenings were even worse,” he says. “It was almost impossible to get healthy, quality food delivered to the office.”
Encountering the eternal catch-22 of convenience food, Parekh was frustrated by the necessity of sacrificing either flavour or nutrition. “I even struggled to find prepared meals that didn’t make me feel guilty afterwards.”
With his vision to build the UK’s first vertically integrated food brand in the hope of replicating the success of ASOS in the fashion industry, Parekh set out to revolutionise the weeknight dinner and “make it easy for everyone to feel great about what they were eating.”
After deciding to take the plunge and leave his job at Goldman Sachs in order to launch EatFirst in 2014, Parekh pulled off a major coup by securing seed-funding from Oliver Samwer (founder of Rocket Internet and Founders Capital) after a chance meeting in a Mayfair hotel.
Parekh’s original idea was to build a model where customers could order a meal at the touch of a button and receive their food in a matter of minutes. However, after rolling this out throughout 2015, he came to realise that, logistically, this business model would be too difficult to turn profitable within his desired timeline. He took the decision to “completely pivot the business model and re-focus our effects on profitability rather than growth.”
Since then, the company – which has secured £12m investment – has gone from strength to strength, and has now sold over 500,000 meals.
It has also expanded into the corporate market, which now comprises almost 50% of revenue.
Parekh and his team are now placing even greater focus on sustainability, and encouraging their corporate clients to do the same.
Why EatFirst made our shortlist:
No one has yet truly succeeded in cracking the ready-meal trifecta of convenience, deliciousness and healthy. If anyone can do it, it will be someone with the sheer work ethic, drive and inspiration shown by Rahul Parekh.
We are also impressed by his ability to pivot his business model when he realised that his initial idea wouldn’t quite work out. This combination of drive and adaptability is a recipe for success!
Where to find out more about Eatfirst:
Place your People’s Champion vote below.