Co-founder of Simply Fit Food (SFF) Evelyn Garland spoke to ThinkBusiness about the highs and lows of starting a food business in Ireland.
Simply Fit Food (SFF) was set up by sports-mad couple Evelyn Garland (23) and Luke Judge (25) after Luke was diagnosed with a heart condition in January 2016.
With degrees in food and agribusiness management from UCD and health and physical activity from DKIT, they made the jump into business life and started an online meal delivery company.
The idea behind SFF came from personal experience when both realised the difficulties of maintaining a healthy diet while training, whether it be with their respective GAA clubs, or following sessions at the gym.
“We know how hard it can be to eat healthily and stay on track when time isn’t on our side. With both of us working and training and with very little time to cook, we figured more people like us must feel the same way. So we thought why not provide a simple, convenient way of eating healthy, delicious food five days a week while staying on track.”
“Most people, if not everyone, thought we were absolutely insane starting a business, especially as a couple.”
Local, healthy, quick
SFF delivers healthy meals and snacks using locally-sourced ingredients straight to your home, and the company offers quicker delivery times than their competitors in the market.
“Local ingredients in our food are extremely important to us as we can track exactly what’s in our meals. Our customers only have to ever wait three working days for a delivery of fresh food. Customers who order from other companies in Ireland with a similar model have to wait over a week for their delivery if they order after the deadline.”
It wasn’t easy
Starting SFF proved a difficult process for the young couple, as they decided to fund their idea with their savings as opposed to sourcing investment or applying for a loan. “SFF was funded solely by our savings from previous jobs. Luke was fantastic, he helped fund our first company car and even paid a small wage for me for the first few months. You don’t find people like that too often.”
Following their launch, the company then received funding from the Louth Local Enterprise Office, which “really helped see us through our first year,” and after appearing on Dragon’s Den, the pair managed to secure investment from other sources. They currently “have major plans in the pipeline, but we don’t want to give anything away just yet.”
“All the mistakes and ups and downs we’ve had in business have helped us progress.”
Would they change anything?
Evelyn admits to taking great pride in the success of SFF so far and says the journey has been difficult but wouldn’t have it any other way. “Most people, if not everyone, thought we were absolutely insane starting a business, especially as a couple. However, we have since proved everyone wrong.”
Asked what she would change if they were to start over – “Absolutely nothing,” she said. “And that’s an honest answer. All the mistakes and ups and downs we’ve had in business have helped us progress and learn and apply it to SFF. No business is perfect it’s always a work in progress, that’s what makes being self-employed so exciting.”
Evelyn says her inspiration in business in Brian Lee, co-founder of Chopped, the healthy food chain. “We admire him as he too is a young entrepreneur with a passion for healthy food. We want Simply Fit Food to grow the way Chopped has.”
Interview by Stephen Larkin.