People’s Champion finalist 2018: Mindful Chef

This ethical recipe-box business was born on a fishing trip and has already captured the attention of sporting icons - has it caught your eye for People's Champion?

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Start-up name: Mindful Chef
Founders: Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries, and Myles Hopper
Started in: 2016
Based in: London
Business description: The ethical food venture catering to meat-eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans

Shortlisted categories:

Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Crowdfunded Business of the Year

The Mindful Chef story

It all started on a fishing trip. Returning to shore one misty morning in 2014, three friends were inspired by the sight of their fellow villagers lining up to buy the catch up the day.

Four years on, their business is projecting multi-million revenues and has been endorsed by sporting icons Sir Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton.

Mindful Chef is the creation of Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper. Having marvelled at those villagers queuing for fresh fish on the Devon harbour side, they decided to create an alternative to the frozen fare available in the supermarket. 

The name derives from their desire to create a thoughtful, compassionate food delivery business, which blends freshness with nutrition and provides a major boost to the UK’s independent farm sector.

Mindful Chef’s core proposition lies in its healthy recipe boxes, which are delivered to subscribers on a weekly basis, complete with recipe cards. It follows a similar model to Graze, the healthy snack box, but goes a step further: Mindful Chef provides an entire meal, and its ingredients, sourced from award-winning British farms, are perfectly measured for optimal nutritional value.

The recipe boxes come in one, two and four-person boxes and cater for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, pescatarian and even flexitarian diets. Yet all of them carry the same core nutritional values: they’re free of gluten and dairy products and refined carbs are very much off the menu.

The founders have created a flexible subscription model, which allows customers to change their plan or suspend it if they’re away, and a feedback function sends subscribers’ comments straight to the chefs.

At first, the founders had to work extremely hard to get their business model off the ground. Starting out in their apartment, they had to work all hours and even delved into their life savings to ensure suppliers got their money on time. But now they have 14 full-time employees and this year’s projected turnover is 750% up on year one.

The company’s business model has certainly caught the eye of investors: in July 2016, a whirlwind funding round raised £1m in just 11 days, led by Murray and Pendleton, and a further £2m was raised in a similarly speedy crowdfunding drive in late 2017.

As the business has grown, its sustainable credentials have been reinforced. The brand was recently certified by the international non-profit B-Lab, meaning its activities meet the highest standards of accountability, transparency and environmental impact.

Now, the founders are pushing to create an entirely plastic-free recipe box by the end of this year. What’s more, they’ve entered into partnership with food charity One Feeds Two; every time a meal is sold, another is donated to a child living in poverty. Around 600,000 meals have been donated to date, and the founders are now pushing for a million.

Perhaps the last word should go to Mindful Chef’s subscribers. The brand is currently the UK’s #1 recipe box service on Trustpilot, with a near-perfect score based on 2,000 glowing reviews. 

Why Mindful Chef made our shortlist:

All three of Mindful Chef’s founders are in their early 30s, placing them firmly in the ‘bright young thing’ category, and they’ve built a business that reflects their youthful optimism, one which is fresh in every sense of the word.

The crowdfunding revenues they accrued last year haven’t been used to pump up their own salaries or fund unnecessary frivolities: instead they’ve been channelled into measured, sustainable growth and have helped the business fulfil its environmentally friendly agenda.

Where to find out more about Mindful Chef:

Twitter: @MindfulChefUK

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