When it comes to diet and nutrition, there’s a lot of information out there. In fact, maybe too much.
Today we’re bombarded with advice on what to eat, how to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. Food is a trending topic and everyone wants a piece of the pie, so sometimes finding the correct information about a healthy diet can turn into an exhaustive search. As a frequent fixture at the gym, MealKitt creator Julian Gaine was on the hunt to find an easy way to keep his diet on track and his body healthy and fit through food since he noticed that just exercise wasn’t giving him the health results he wanted.
Motivated by his own struggle with weight loss Julian undertook an in-depth study on nutrition, going back to basics he learned in primary school. He remembered learning about combining different food groups in varying portion sizes based on hand size (a fist of carbs, a thumb of fats, a palm of carbs) but he wasn’t convinced this was the easiest way to attack healthy eating. The more information he learned, the more convinced he became of the need for a way to share simple portion control strategy. He was able to start testing out his ideas with his mom who, after gastric bypass surgery, needed a better way to understand portion control. Out of Legos Julian created three fillable boxes: one for proteins, one for fats, and one for carbs using guidelines from the UK National Health Service, This visual approach to portion control not only helped his mom keep weight off but renewed her overall health.
After success with his mom, Julian decided to test out the idea himself. He combined his portion control practice with his usual daily exercise and saw immediate results. That’s when Julian realized he was on to something and wanted to find out more. Working as a trainer at a gym, Julian shared an updated prototype of the portion control system with some of his clients. Unsurprisingly, the feedback he got was overwhelmingly positive. In spring of 2015, Julian approached product designers to help create a product to “enable both men and women to lose body fat, maintain a balanced diet or gain mass in an all in one easy to use product.” From there, MealKitt was born.
About a year after that first official prototype, MealKitt took their product public with a Kickstarter campaign. In just three days on Kickstarter, MealKitt had reached 40% backing for its goal of £19,000. The rewards based campaign effort gave funders the option of international and UK MealKitt package options with significant savings (around 40%) to initial backers. The kits included the physical MealKitt product, but also access to exclusive materials like recipes and home workout videos. After a month on Kickstarter, MealKitt succeeded in raising £19,731 through 195 backers, enough to put the product into production.
As MealKitt moves ahead with production and a shipment scheduled for December of 2016, we had a chance to talk to Julian about his journey in creating MealKitt and the success of his crowdfunding campaign.
What prompted you to take your portion control idea to the business level?
The initial MealKitt prototype had so many positive responses. It made sense to make it available to everyone so they could also benefit and reach their desired weight goals.
How do you see MealKitt standing out compared to other products on the market?
MealKitt is a revolutionary unique portion control product. There is nothing else on the market that boasts the same features and does the same thing. Minor competitors do touch on portion control, however, do not have the features of this product. Unlike its competitors MealKitt is patent pending and can be used by anyone and everyone to reach whatever weight goal they desire.
What stage were you at when you decided to crowdfund?
Just one MealKitt had been manufactured to use as a test product, to see it in action and of course to show it to the world. The video recipes had already been created and the home workout videos were nearly complete.
How did you decide on crowdfunding as a way to propel your idea forward?
We used crowdfunding as a way to gauge the market. It’s a fantastic tool to use to carry out your own market research. By using it we were able to prove the viability of MealKitt at low cost and quite low risk. Plus, it’s a great way to acquire a customer base of early adopters who would really like to use MealKitt and become one of the first to own it. Backers through crowdfunding platforms tend to be more willing and open to new inventions and we received some useful feedback from them which was the best part.
How did you prepare for your crowdfunding campaign?
A lot went into our preparation for the campaign. Quite early on we wrote a marketing plan to make sure we knew exactly what was required from the onset all the way through to the end of the campaign. Planning is key here! Our plan consisted of email marketing, social media marketing, advertising, working out the rewards system, creating videos, building partnerships with gyms and businesses who would be willing to co-promote, press releases, promoting via forums, blogging and creating an outreach list of publications, bloggers and PR professionals.
What did you find most effective for your campaign?
I think the most effective was talking to people. Whether that was face-to-face, on the phone or via social media, people like to know about the team behind MealKitt and its story. It’s important that you add that personal quality to your brand or product.
After having done crowdfunding, what is your advice for others?
A few things here: make sure you do your research in advance of launching. Work out all of the timeframes required to deliver your product. Think about the fees (whether they are payment processing fees from PayPal or crowdfunding fees). Take into consideration posting and packaging and weight as it can be quite costly if you haven’t worked it all out in advance. Mostly, always stay positive throughout! Keep promoting all the way through (marketing, advertising, talking to people, updating on social media) and keep backers updated so they feel part of your community. Of course, offer great rewards to people who have supported you!
What was the best part about the crowdfunding experience?
The excitement of reaching our milestones (I.e. 50%, 100% funded) and also being able to update all of the backers and supporters on our progress.
How do you see MealKitt evolving in the future?
We have quite a few products and ideas in the pipeline for MealKitt. At the moment we can’t tell you much about them… But we have started working on the MealKitt app where all of the recipes and home workout videos will be available. Plus, the app will become the home of the MealKitt community, as well as being able to share progress on social media it will be a great place to stay motivated and find inspiration. In addition to this, the aim is to build future sales through our PR and marketing campaign and build relationships with High Street and online retailers.
What is most challenging about being a startup in the F&B sector?
Like all other startups launching into the sector, it can be very competitive! I think the most challenging part is that consumers have so many options these days. On the plus side, MealKitt is one-of-a-kind and completely unique so it has opened up new channels for us.
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