A call centre worker who Googled ‘how to start a business’ after spotting a niche in the market for healthy ready-made meals with high protein is on track to make $100million by the end of this year.
Tushar Menon was selling insurance while finishing his degree in commerce, finance and accounting at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) at the age of 21 in 2011.
Struggling to maintain a healthy diet with his hectic schedule, the self-confessed ‘gym junkie’ went looking for nutritious ready-made meals – but failed to find any with the high protein content he needed for his athletic physique.
With no experience in management or hospitality, Mr Menon, from south-west Sydney, used online guidebooks to create a business plan and advertised for a chef on Gumtree to ‘pick their brains’ about running a commercial kitchen.
And just three months after launching his range of ready-made meals for bodybuilders, weightlifters and athletes in March 2013, his brainchild – ‘My Muscle Chef’ – was making $45,000 a week.
In 2012, Tushar Menon (pictured) was juggling a call centre job and a finance degree when he spotted a niche in the market for protein-rich ready-made meals; this year, his business ‘My Muscle Chef’ is on track to turn over $100million
The meals have been promoted on social media by some of Australia’s leading fitness influencers including Sydney-based Michaela Lloyd-Jones (pictured with a pack of blueberry and chia pancakes from ‘My Muscle Chef’)
In early 2013, he joined forces with his brother Nishant, 33, to rent a small kitchen in Sydney’s Potts Point and launched ‘My Muscle Chef’ while still working full-time.
They hired two staff through Gumtree and started preparing meals to deliver directly to customers’ homes, spreading word about their offering through sample tables at gyms across the city.
‘We needed our wages to pay their wages,’ the now-28-year-old told News.com.au.
Just three months after launching, Mr Menon was making $45,000 a week from 300 customers each paying $150 for seven days of ready meals.
This steady stream of income allowed him to quit his day job and focus entirely on the business, which – while ‘a bit’ nerve wracking – felt right because he was ‘quite young and had nothing to lose’.
Just three months after launching, Mr Menon was earning $45,000 a week from 300 customers, each paying $150 for seven days of ready-made meals (pictured, Gold Coast fitness influencer Stevie Alger with two meals)
In 2013, its first full year of business, My Muscle Chef brought in revenue of $827,000.
This year, the business is on track to turn over a projected $100million – close to $2million a week.
Today, the business operates from a factory in Yennora in Western Sydney and employs more than 320 staff, including Mr Menon’s mother and father who still help with day to day running.
Mr Menon said the experience has been ‘surreal’, citing the brand’s commitment to product quality and customer satisfaction as the reasons behind its exponential growth and success.
‘It seems quite basic, but sometimes companies that grow quickly, that’s the first thing that gets compromised because the aim is just to get the product to the customer,’ he said.
‘We’ve invested heavily to make sure that doesn’t happen.’
Mr Menon said the experience has been ‘surreal’, citing the brand’s commitment to product quality and customer satisfaction as the reasons behind its exponential growth and success (pictured left, Sydney influencer Melanie Katrine with a selection of the meals and right, fitness influencer Monique Gibara with a My Muscle Chef meal)
The brand is currently stocked in major Australian retailers including IGA, Harris Farm Markets and Romeo’s Foodworks, but online sales still make up 70 percent of the 190,000 ready meals it sells each week.
Capitalising on social media marketing, Australian fitness influencers Stevie Alger, Melanie Katrine and Michaela Lloyd-Jones regularly promote the meals on their much-followed Instagram accounts.
Mr Menon recently signed a contact to supply meals to 400 Caltex outlets, his biggest contract to date.
But despite his awe-inspiring success, Mr Menon said he has made ‘plenty’ of mistakes and learned many lessons, chiefly regarding delegating responsibility and knowing ‘when to let go’.