Elric | From IT consultancy to healthy food catering
By Eleni Meraki
After my sports studies I worked as a seasonal trainer in winter sports destinations for over10 years. Ready for more stability, I moved back to The Netherlands and eventually bluffed myself into a consultancy role in an IT company.
I had no experience and absolutely no clue what I got myself into so I decided to educate myself by reading all kinds of books about sales, management and IT.
5 THINGS ABOUT
WINTER SPORTS | OPPORTUNITY SEEKER | DOESN’T COOK | THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (SIMON SINEK) | OCCASIONAL RUNNER
LEAP OF FAITH
After 2,5 years in IT consultancy I was ready for the next step in my life. It felt the right time to use all the knowledge I gained for my own company. I quit my full-time job and started freelancing as an IT consultant to allow myself more time and freedom to build up my own company.
Sports has always been a huge part of my life but I always felt that the support from personal trainers is limited. As a sports man, I know that your daily food intake is the most important factor for achieving body transformational results. It’s a well known rule in the industry: 80% food / 20% sports.
DIVERS is a healthy, home made meal, ready to eat, home delivery concept. The weekly menus include 3 meals and 2 snacks per day and can be custom made based on your personal preferences, allergies, and goals (i.e. weight loss). All meals are fresh, nutritious, don't contain any added sugars or additives. The menus, delivered to you twice a week, cover all meals you need for a full workweek. Weekends are excluded because people eat and cook as a social event and that is definitely something we want to encourage.
I rent a kitchen two days a week to cook all the meals for delivery that same evening. From day one, I had to work with skilled people as I'm not a food expert nor a chef. I sit together with them to create and cook the weekly menus. All marketing, labelling, packaging and delivery to clients is done by myself.
My first customers were people I knew through the gym and that slowly spread around through word of mouth. I believe word of mouth is the strongest advertising method.
I spent between €7.000 and €10.000 to start DIVERS. This budget was for the website, product development, photography, video, menus, printing, inventory etc. I saved that money myself and didn’t get any loans from the bank.
I had calculated I needed 5 customers per week to be able to make a living. The maximum capacity with the kitchen I'm currently renting is around 20; I almost reached this number.
THE TOUGH TIMES
- Starting your own business takes much more time than you initially estimate. In my case, this was about double as much.
- I expanded too soon, hired staff very quickly and lost money instead of earning it. Going through a process of firing people is not fun.
- Doing everything yourself and not having a social life can be very lonely and stressful.
- There is always work to do when you have your own company. Sometimes I wake up and I think “How the hack am I going to do all this today?”. Having your own company brings a lot of stress.
- It is frustrating to see that no one can sell your idea and your product quite like you do.
5 INSIDER TIPS
- In lonely and stressful moments, just concentrate on your goal.
- Not every day is great and special. The downsides are part of the deal too; accept that and take moments for reflection.
- Make a dynamic business plan that you can change along the way (4-5 pages). Write down the USP's, company values and philosophy.
- You may get people involved but don’t forget that it is your own company.
- Get your hands dirty. You have to know all aspects of your own business before you outsource it.
Written by Eleni Meraki
Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales. She lives in Athens and enjoys roaming the world as much as she can. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur with big dreams and a big mission; to empower you to live a life you truly enjoy living.
Click on the About Eleni tab to read her full story.