A sim­ply great idea goes na­tion­wide for cou­ple

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - By ALI­SON COMYN

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

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