A simply great idea goes nationwide for couple
THE last thing most people would do when diagnosed with a heart condition is use it as inspiration to start a new business.
But then most people aren’t local couple Luke Judge and Evelyn Garland!
Co-founders of the company Simply Fit Food, their range of healthy convenience food with be available nationwide in Dunnes Stores and other nationwide stores from next week.
“We probably did have a screw loose to do that, but all the hard work of the past two and a half years is paying off, and we are delighted to say that from January 14th, our new range of performance based, healthy meals will be available across major retailers nationwide,’ says Evelyn.
“Starting with Dunnes Stores in Louth and Dublin in and in 180 SPAR NI (Northern Ireland) stores by the end of January, our mission was to make healthy eating on-the-go available to as many people as possible across Ireland. 2019 is the year to make this happen.”
The Simply Fit Food story began in January 2016 when Luke was diagnosed with a heart condition called Wolf Parkinson’s White or better known as an irregular heartbeat.
His recovery took months and as a result of this, his diet was key to getting him back in shape and recovering as quickly as possible while still ensuring he received adequate nutrition.
“We are both massively into fitness and eating well, training five-six days a week mixing it up with gym sessions, GAA, kick-boxing and running” says Evelyn, a graduate of Agri Food Science in UCD.
“Luke was on the path to recovery for months after his heart operation and as a result of his operations and recovery it was key he received the best nutrition possible and we looked in the area for a meal delivery company that was actually healthy and couldn’t find anything.”
And that’s when the couple, aged just 22 and 24, decided to do it for themselves.
“So, with a lot of research, and testing out healthy meals we liked ourselves, we created Simply Fit Foods and began as an online delivery service, providing nourishing, healthy 5-7 day meal plans and snacks delivered right to your door using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients,” she explains.
“It went well, but we soon realised it had limitations, as we were relying on couriers and packages were going missing.”
The couple needed a new business model, and with little or no marketing budget, turned to the entrepreneurs in RTE’s Dragon’s Den for guidance.
“Everything we had done up until then had been self-financed and we saw the chance to gain nationwide exposure on the show, which is why we applied to go on it in 2017,” explains Evelyn, who hails from Skerries.
“In hindsight we had pitched ourselves a little too high, but it didn’t really matter, as the response was incredible and our sales tripled in a month.”
They both knew the next step was to try and sell directly, which they did in a few local Supervalu stores and then in their pop-up shop in Trinity Street.
“We opened that the week of the Fleadh, and we realised we could do very well, but because the crowds were so big, it was difficult to tell how long it would last.
“We closed it just before Christmas, and it was a great way to meet our real customers and know what they wanted from us in the future.”
Co-founder Luke is the son of wellknown Drogheda couple Bosco and Margaret Judge, and is a former pupil of St Joseph’s CBS.
The performance-based meals are designed for those living a healthy lifestyle, with balanced nutrients and calories.
“It’s for anyone into walking, running, training, or even new parents who don’t have time to cook, and just want to pop something healthy in a microwave, or they can even be eaten cold,” adds Evelyn, who is still only 24.
“We are the first healthy meal delivery company to secure this type of distribution, and we are also honoured to have won the Louth County Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition in 2017 and in November just gone, the Health, Hair & Beauty category in the Drogheda Chamber Business Excellence Awards, amongst others.”
The meals, priced just €6, will be available nationwide from January 14th.
An example of the Simply Fit Food menu!
Co-founders of Simply Fit Food Evelyn Garland and Luke Judge