ASK ME ANYTHING: My Food Bag founders Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung & Cecilia Robinson

Fielding reader questions: L-R: My Food Bag co-founders and co-owners Theresa Gattung, Cecilia Robinson and Nadia Lim

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In just over a year, recipe card and food parcel delivery company My Food Bag has grown to a $20 million business. Now it's expanding into Australia.

Founders Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung and Cecilia Robinson answered readers' question May 29.

Scroll down to see their replies.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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49 Comments & Questions

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Hi guys,

It's been reported your revenue has hit $20 million since your March 2013 launch.

What sort of revenue do you think you'll hit over the next year?

And are you profitable yet?

Thanks
CK

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Yes our turnover is steadily growing and is now well north of $20 million on an annualised basis.

We think we have only just started! In Sweden one in five households are on or have tried a My Food Bag similar service!

Our revenue growth over the next year will depend how fast our business takes off in Australia.

We are very close to being profitable but have chosen to keep re-investing in the business i.e. current television campaign.

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Full credit to you all for growing such a substantial business so well. Fantastic.
Some key metrics would be fascinating to hear, such as the number of active customers, average sales per active customer, growth of new active customers (%) per month and churn of active customers per month.
Are you able to share any of these?

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Hi Lance,
Thank you for your insightful question. We have close to 7000 active subscribers. Our subscribers alternate between weekly and fortnightly deliveries so the number of orders per/week varies.

In terms of key company metrics such as average spend per/customer, we wouldn't want to divulge this information however with a range of bags from $139 - $189 plus add-ons (such as our fruit bag) we do have a significant spend per customer and obviously continually looking how we can extend our product offering to increase this is a priority for the board.

Thanks again, Cecilia

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Now that the business premise is established and running what insights do you have on your customer base, essentially what target groups have become the core and what is the over riding reason customers have engaged?

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Alistair it's very interesting as our customer base is about equally split- a third on the Gourmet Food bag, a third on the Classic bag and a third on the Family Bag.
Really the concept has wide appeal and the consistent feedback we get from customers is that the quality of the produce is great, the meals delicious and healthy and it saves them time having to think about meal planning and then going grocery shopping.

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Hello

Where is your service available now and what are your plans for reaching the rest of NZ? Why/why not?

Thanks

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My Food Bag is available in Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton, and we have plans to come to spread to the central north island too

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Hi again,

Which do you see as tougher competition - the supermarkets or take out shops?

Cheers

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Hi Victoria,

Thank you for your question. It's an interesting question. As a working mum I must admit to being guilty of the 2 -3 weekly take away run pre My Food Bag. I also used to frequent the supermarkets several times per/week to figure out 'what to cook for dinner' so I think there is certainly an aspect of both.

In terms of our competitive market, we don't necessarily look at it that way. I believe the grocery industry is around 6 billion per/annum and My Food Bag is only a small proportion of this. However, our key driver is to create healthier communities and obviously by not frequently getting takeaways or making last minute decisions on what to eat - this is what we are doing.

I hope that answers your question,
Cecilia

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Since you are shipping the meat raw to the end-user's food bag, what are you doing to reduce food cross-contamination as you increase the speed of delivery and number of food bags?

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Hi Tony,
Thank you for your queries. Food Safety is a high priority for us and we work with some of the best logistical and distribution partners in the industry to ensure our high expectations are met. We also track the temperature of our goods through the process to ensure that our products are kept at required temperatures.

Having been recently exposed to some of the Australian Food Safety procedures I am excited about bringing some of these practices into our New Zealand business as we never tend to rest on our laurels and are always looking at cutting edge ways of improving our customer experience.

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Have you thought about getting into delivery of takeaway and restaurant food? eg. ordering a dinner and having it delivered within a hour already made and hot. I see overseas website like grubhub.com and deliveryhero.com.au do this

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This isn't really our thing. We're all about making it easy for people to cook delicious, healthy meals from scratch.!

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What one thing has surprised you most as you've built My Food Bag?

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How quickly it's taken off! We knew it was a winning idea, but didn't expect it to grow this fast!

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Hi,

How long does each meal take to cook (from start to finish)?
Is high quality prepared meals to difficult? Have you considered adding to your line up for those nights when people dont have time?

Thanks,
Lazy

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Hi Harvey,

Generally about 30 minutes on average, but some are shorter and some are longer.

We aim to have 2 quick (less than 25min) meals, 2-3 medium (30-40 min) meals and sometimes 1 longer meal, i.e. a slow cooked meal especially in Winter.

We're not making any ready-made meals as we're all about people cooking it themselves, but we do fast-track the recipes for people, for example we deliver the sauces pre-made (e.g. a salsa verde or pesto, which our suppliers make from scratch according to our recipes) so it saves people time in the kitchen.

Nadia

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Hi ladies,

So many strong NZ companies (Telecom, The Warehouse) etc have failed with pushes into Australia?

When do you launch into Australia, and how are you going to attack the market?

Also, is there any similar service already operating in Australia?

Thanks

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Hi Amanda,

Thank you for your question and yes you are right that many New Zealand companies haven't been as successful in the Australian market.

Heading up the launch of Australia, my key priority is to ensure we set realistic expectations regarding what we are going to achieve and also ensure that we adapt our processes to the Australian market. We're not assuming that because things have worked a certain way in New Zealand that we can apply the same logic for Australia.

Ultimately, I firmly believe that the key to our success will lie in the assembly of a first class team and this is something we feel confident we have assembled.

While there are minor competitors in Australia, My Food Bags offering remains unique and we feel that there is a significant opportunity for My Food Bag in the Australian market.

Thanks for your questions and we will be sure to report back on how we go! It's time for another trans Tasman success story.

Cecilia

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Any plans to list on the NZX or ASX, and if so what's the broad timeframe? Thanks

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Liz, at the moment we're just concentrating on growing the business and we don't need outside capital to do that . But there may come a time when we do !

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Hi again - do you have plans beyond Australia? How far do your world domination ambitions extend?

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Hi Liz,

Thank you for both your great questions. I will leave the top question for TG to respond to.

In terms of further expansion plans, My Food Bag has a great opportunity in Australia and we still have a huge amount of growth to do in New Zealand. This is currently the key focus of our board.

However, our business model is certainly of global scale and there is always endless possibilities for the future. But right now we are focusing on our local growth which remains our top priority.

Thanks for both your questions,
Cecilia

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What's been your most successful meal offering? And has their been one that's been a surprising failure? Thanks

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Hello Judith,

One of our most popular meals to date is a garlic and thyme-stuffed chicken breast with caramelised butternut, mushroom sauce and spinach – people still rave about it!

I also consider my venison with Brussel sprouts slaw to be a huge success because before people tried it they weren’t keen on Brussel sprouts, but this recipe literally converted thousands of people to liking Brussels sprouts! That’s a huge thumbs up for me as I love introducing people to new vegetables and getting them to eat a wider variety! ☺

We found that people weren't that fond of soups so don't tend to include them.

We have a recipe rating system which gives us a rating for each recipe, so we get an idea for what styles of dishes are most popular, and what isn't so much and we create our future recipes according to that.

Nadia

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Do you get high on your own supply?

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For each of you - what's your favourite food show on TV, outside of Master Chef? Thx

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My favourite TV chefs are Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall as I love his resourceful nature (he can make something out of not very much!), and my childhood idol Jamie Oliver so I'll watch any show with them on. My Kitchen Rules New Zealand is coming up too which should be interesting!

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Hi,

Thanks for your question - while I would love to say that I have a favourite show, with 3 businesses (MFB NZ, MFB AUS and Au Pair Link), a almost 2 year old and another one due in November there isn't a huge amount of time for TV.

So I hate to disappoint but my favourite all time cooking show is still the 2011 Master Chef competition which Nadia won - after all that's how we got our superstar.

Cecilia

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I hardly watch tv but I was glued to this year"s Masterchef as I grew up in Rotorua and regularly went to Maketu, so I was cheering for the sister's!

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And again for each of you - what would you choose for your last meal?

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My Mum's mac and cheese - it's a meal I have very fond memories of when I was a child....I can smell the bacon and onion cooking now! :) Nadia

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We had a staff conference yesterday and one of our team members said that 'picking a favourite meal was like picking a favourite child - simply unthinkable'! And I tend to agree with her sentiment.

I do consider myself quite the foodie and enjoy everything under the sun. Although if I must pick (being Swedish and all) elk meatballs with lingonberry jam, cream sauce and fresh potato's are hard to beat! If you ever go to Sweden I suggest having meatballs in Gamla Stan (the old part of the city). It's a pretty spectacular experience.

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I know this sounds a bit bizarre , but anything involving meatballs and tomatoes followed by my mother's fruitcake!!

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Who is bankrolling your move into Australia? Thanks

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Hi Bill,

Thanks so much for your query.

My Food Bag is a privately owned company therefore the funds required to expand into Australia is funded by the shareholders, who are ultimately also Directors and all working actively in the business.

Thanks,
Cecilia

[My Food Bag is owned 40% by Theresa Gattung and Margaret Doucas, 40% by Cecilia and James Robinson and 20% by Nadia Lim and her husband Carlos Bagrie, My Food Bag's branding and marketing manager - CK]

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Theresa, do you think there should be more women on NZ boards? And if so, what practical or legal measures should be taken to achieve that outcome? Thanks

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John, yes I do. I believe in equal representation of men and women in the public sphere.
In recent times there's been quite a push in NZ about more women on Boards which is making a difference and this needs to continue to be championed , especially by the men on corporate Boards and the Chairs of those Boards.

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What sort of roles to each of you play in My Food Bag day to day? Thanks

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Hi Ryan,

Thank you for your question. My role as Group CEO means that I sit across both New Zealand and Australia. I would call my role highly operational which means that I have daily intimate exposure across all aspects of our business from test kitchen, to marketing, logistics and operations.

While Theresa's role has been to Chair the My Food Bag board, she has been actively involved in the day to day operation since inception. Therefore it's been logical for her to step in as Acting CEO of New Zealand to continue to grow the business.

Nadia and the test kitchen team provide our 14 weekly recipes (which is a huge amount of work). Her focus is also around being our brand ambassador and working closely alongside our key partners (for example the Chiefs) to build strong relationships.

Thanks for your question Ryan!

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What will My Food Bag look like in five years time?

Will you stick closely to your core business, or do you plan to diversify into other area - and what are they?

Thanks

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Hi,

Thanks for your question and to be honest looking five years out right now feels a little bit like crystal ball gazing.

In terms of diversifying, we are really happy about the direction of the business and therefore our intention is to keep doing what we are good at.

Thanks,
Cecilia

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When you launched last year, there were a lot of high profile people on Twitter tweeting about trying out My Food Bag.

Did you pay them?

How much of your marketing was centred around social media, and will you use a similar tactic with your Aussie push?

Thanks

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Hi Amanda,

Thank you for your questions. We were thrilled to launch My Food Bag and have such a significant response. We most certainly didn't pay anyone for their comments.

What people tend to forget is that we took a risk by providing our product to influential people. The reality is that if our product hadn't been good it would have been instantly aired in the public domain and we wouldn't have had a second opportunity. We backed ourselves that we had a great product and we were rewarded with positive feedback from this.

Our initial launch campaign was PR led and supported through social media. This worked well for us in New Zealand and we will adapt a similar albeit slightly different launch in Australia.

Thanks for your questions,
Cecilia

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With your NSW launch, will you run with more or less the same recipes as NZ but some local ingredients, or does their need to be a total overhaul to accommodate the Aussie pallet?

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Hi Natalie,

Now that's a great question and something we have spent a bit of time internally debating. Our Australian team arrived on the ground in NZ last week and have been working closely with our test kitchen team to refine our recipes to ensure they meet the Australian market.

In essence, our recipes will be very similar in Australia and New Zealand - after all our tastes seem to be fairly aligned. However, we will most definitely be including local delicacies and highlighting the best of Australian produce.

Thanks for your question,
Cecilia

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Thanks everybody. The session is now closed to new questions.

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What a great bunch of ladies!

All the best for your Australian launch.

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NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7302 -0.0051 -0.69%
AUD 0.9334 0.0029 0.31%
EUR 0.6631 0.0011 0.17%
GBP 0.4713 0.0019 0.40%
HKD 5.6610 -0.0406 -0.71%
JPY 88.6750 -0.3310 -0.37%

Commods

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Gold Index 1206.0 -3.510 2015-05-21T00:
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Silver Index 17.1 0.019 2015-05-21T00:

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NZX 50 5769.3 5785.2 5769.3 0.12%
NASDAQ 5085.4 5103.8 5090.8 -0.03%
DAX 11881.5 11881.8 11864.6 -0.42%
DJI 18286.9 18286.9 18285.7 -0.29%
FTSE 7013.5 7061.7 7013.5 0.26%
HKSE 27723.7 28041.3 27523.7 1.70%
NI225 20208.8 20278.3 20202.9 0.30%