Getting To Know You: Robert Grieg-Gran, Co-founder, Mindful Chef

Getting To Know You: Robert Grieg-Gran, Co-founder, Mindful Chef

Robert Grieg-Gran explains what the inspiration was for him, Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper to start the recipe box brand Mindful Chef.

What do you currently do?

I’m co-founder of Mindful Chef, a health-focused recipe box company backed by sports stars including Sir Andy Murray, Victoria Pendleton CBE and Will Greenwood MBE. Previously an exotics trader at Morgan Stanley, I now run Mindful Chef’s technology development and operations.

Unlike our competitors, Mindful Chef is the only recipe box brand that is gluten-free, dairy-free and contains no refined carbs. Providing a wide range of box options to suit all lifestyles, Mindful Chef offer 1, 2 and 4 person boxes and cater for vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians and meat-eaters.

Our customer base is made up of both young professionals looking for healthy convenient food, and empty nesters looking to make healthier choices and expand their recipe repertoire.”

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I founded Mindful Chef with two friends from Devon, Myles Hopper and Giles Humphries, in 2015. Growing from strength to strength, Mindful Chef has delivered over one million meals since its launch. The idea was born in the summer of 2014, when Myles, Giles and I worked on a friends fishing boat off the Devon coast. As the villagers lined up to buy the day’s catch, we saw an opportunity to provide consumers with direct access to fresh meat, fish and produce, rather than purchasing food that is sat in supermarket supply chains for weeks.

Inspired by our own experiences of how a busy work schedule and hectic lifestyle can negatively impact your diet and health, we identified a gap in the growing recipe box market and decided to launch the UK’s first health-focused recipe box. We felt that freshness and sustainability, were of equal value to health and nutrition, and with a growing demand for convenience products, Mindful Chef was born.

Giving consumers access to fresh meat, fish and produce sustainably sourced from independent UK farms, Mindful Chef sends weekly healthy recipe boxes, filled with recipe cards and pre-portioned ingredients. All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and contain no refined carbs.”

What defines your way of doing business?

The name ‘Mindful Chef’ embodies all that the brand inspires to be: mindful of the suppliers it chooses, mindful of the healthy ingredients it uses and mindful of the brands impact on the environment.

We recently announced a partnership with food charity One Feeds Two. For each meal sold, Mindful Chef will donate one school meal to a child living in poverty. With over 400,000 meals donated to date, our target is to donate 1 million school meals. Mindful Chef is the first and only recipe box pioneering this ‘one for one’ charity model.

We are also in the process of applying for B Corp status. Business’ certified ‘B Corp’ by the nonprofit B Lab, meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. With Mindful Chef’s strong values around the suppliers it works with, the ingredients it uses and its impacton the environment, plus our efforts to raise awareness of initiatives like the ‘one for one’ charity model and B Corp – we hope to create a social movement in the category and encourage our peers to be more mindful in business too.”

Who do you admire?

It has to be Yvon Chouinard, the owner and founder of outdoor clothing company Patagonia. He’s built a legendary brand, one of the most environmentally responsible companies on earth, and has wonderfully progressive business thinking when it comes to how employees work best. He has inspired us to introduce similar practices at Mindful Chef. I’d recommend every entrepreneur reads his autobiography ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ for inspiration about how to build a truly visionary company.”

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I wish we had raised more money earlier in our journey. Businesses are expensive to start, but can scale very quickly when they get things right. We probably lost our first year as we didn’t have the necessary resources, like technology, marketing spend or skilled staff to help us grow rapidly. Since raising £1m in July 2016 (18 months after we started working on Mindful Chef), we’ve grown ten fold. Imagine where we’d be if we had raised that capital in July 2015.”

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Don’t get distracted in the early days, focus on your core proposition, don’t try to be everything to everyone. At launch, Mindful Chef set itself apart from the competition by becoming the ‘health-focused’ recipe box on the market. All the recipes are nutritionally-balanced, gluten-free, dairy-free and contain no refined carbs.

With sports star investors like Sir Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton CBE, as well as a recent partnership with the English Institute of Sport to support their British athletes in the lead up to their major competitions, we have continued to maintain this position.”