Two crowd-funding campaigns, netting £3m, have funded the company that sources from British farms and offers customers a choice from a changing menu of inventive recipes with meals from £4.
“Growth has been far quicker than we expected,” says engineer and former Morgan Stanley trader Robert Grieg-Gran who co-founded Mindful Chef with ex-M&C Saatchi Giles Humphries and nutritional coach Myles Hopper.
The first opportunity the team saw was to supply health-focussed meals with demand coming from young professionals, keen on fitness and getting into scratch cooking.
But empty nesters outside city centres have become just as important. “Some are couples looking for variety who miss cooking for their children or have busy weekend social lives and find our meals an easier alternative early on in the week,” explains Grieg-Gran.
“We also have customers trying to be fitter or losing weight for a big occasion such as a wedding, and some getting over a personal loss who find our meals help them as they adapt to their new lives.
“The vegan and flexitarian diet trends are now very strong, half of our customers want the option when they order.”
With a headcount of more than 50 in its office and distribution hub, Mindful Chef’s packing unit handles some 200,000 ingredients a week.
The company’s custom-built technology and forecasting capabilities, pinning down order volumes both from suppliers and customers, has been fundamental to its operational model and central to its success.
“Our scheduling has to fit with farmers and predict what customers will want and choose,” adds Grieg-Gran.
“Our IT is very accurate and handles complex logistics, there’s no waste. This makes the offering commercially viable.”
Now a partner of One Feeds Two, a movement uniting schoolchildren in some of the poorest regions on earth with food companies and their customers, its pledge to donate a meal for every box bought by customers is on course to reach 1,000,000 by the end of this year.
Fans of the healthy feasts, which include sporting stars Victoria Pendleton, Will Greenwood and Tom Daley, will have a further chance in 2019 to show their support when Mindful Chef launches its third crowdfunding raise, aimed at scaling the business and quadrupling output.