Are you looking to take your passion for food, health & fitness further by making it your job?
Are you noticing a trend and growth in the adoption by people of prepared meals?
Do you believe you can add value to the market?
Well, you have come to the right place.
I’m Nick Raimondo and I have built a prepared meals business which managed to get to Spar grocery stores. I am now working at Marvin’s Den which is a mobile app marketplace which allows customers to order Meal Prep from various Meal Prep businesses. I also host the podcast ‘The Italian Foodpreneur: How to Food Business’ so it is safe to say that I am quite obsessed by Meal Prep and food entrepreneurship generally.
Here is an overview on the necessary steps:
Step 1: Market research
Before doing any other step, it is important to understand yourself, what your objectives are and crucially you need to understand the market. You may think you already do, but you don't until you spend a lot of time and resources on this. Find data to support your hypothesis, always. Informed guesses sometimes will be inevitable, but they need to be minimised. In the following steps, you should test your hypothesis anyway and pivot if needed.
Ask yourself: 'Why do I want to start a meal prep business?', 'What can I do well?' and 'Where can I add value?'
Then identify the market opportunity, so that you're ready for Step 2
Step 2: Refine your idea
You may already have an idea of what you would like to do if you are already searching on how to start a meal prep business. However, please emotionally detach yourself from your original idea and always be questioning your presumptions and do not be afraid to change your idea, even if ever so slightly.
The idea for Marvin's Den started out as a marketplace for home-cooked meals, but for food safety reasons and a lack of strong demand, over time the idea switched to being a marketplace for meal prep companies. Always dig deeper and do not let your ego dictate your business decisions.
Once you have clear answers to the questions from Step 1, now answer these kinds of questions such as 'What are the gaps in the market?' and 'How can my skills turn into a USP?'
Step 3: Get Planning
Now that you have a better idea of what the business will do, now you can start to think about what resources executing such idea will take. How much time will it take for you to develop the famous 'MVP' Minimum Viable Product which essentially is the least resource-demanding way of getting your idea on the market so that you can receive feedback and build the product through constant tweaking.
This process gives you the best chance to develop something that the market truly wants because every build is the result of real feedback. And that is real and concrete feedback on your specific product from people hopefully purchasing, rather than people filling our surveys or secondary data.
At this point, you may need to get a Food Safety certification and a Food Hygien inspection of your premises. If you are in the UK, check your local council for any special requirements.
Step 4: Test for traction
Now that you have an MVP, test out all marketing channels to find the one that works the best for your product at this early stage. This is because each product will be more suited to a different marketing channel and each stage of the growing process will likely require concentrating on a different channel because every stage is different.
For instance, at the very beginning it is okay to do 'things that don't scale'. By this sentence, often used in the startup world, people mean that at the early stages it is okay to make more personal touches and investing more personal time in time intensive activities for things such as a better customer service.
For instance, it might be good idea for you to send out handwritten personal letters to your early customers, thanking them for the support and asking for feedback.
Step 5: Scale
Now it is time to invest more in your idea and at this point your MVP should be really close to your final product.
Hopefully by this time you have build a social following, have got newsletter subscribers and generally have a core audience who is loyal to your product and can help you spread the message.
At this stage, you may need to hire your first few employees. You may need a head chef in the kitchen to take care of meal preparation and new product development. You may need a digital marketer to push online content. At this stage, it is important to learn how to delegate and trust people, this is hard for any founder but remember that to grow this is a necessary step and that you will be surprised how specialised people are much better than you in their respective specialisations.
Most of all, enjoy the journey and get on Marvin's Den to enter the Meal Prep marketplace so that you can get sales, effortlessly.