Ten years ago, My Muscle Chef had just opened in a three-person kitchen in Potts Point, now the company generates over $200 million in revenue a year. Tushar Menon, co-founder and CEO of My Muscle Chef, tells us how he did it…
C&I: How did My Muscle Chef come about?
Menon: “The idea for My Muscle Chef was born out of necessity.
“I was still studying at UNSW, as well as working full-time in a call centre, and amongst all that, I wanted to prioritise my personal fitness and nutrition. Given I was so time poor, meal prep frequently fell off my to do list and when I tried to source a high-protein, ready meal option, I realised there was a massive gap in the market.
“At the time, many ready meal offerings were targeted towards weight loss, not muscle gain. I thought this could be a strong business idea, so I contacted my brother, Nish, who was working in Silicon Valley at the time, pitched the idea to him, and asked if he’d come home to help me start this business.
“Thankfully, he said yes, and after a Google search on ‘how to start a business’, along with about six months of research, we launched My Muscle Chef in 2013.”
C&I: How has My Muscle Chef evolved since its inception?
Menon: “We started My Muscle Chef in a three-person kitchen in Potts Point, and in our first week we delivered four orders. Now we employ more than 500 people, producing and distributing over 2.2 million meals, snacks, and drinks per month direct to consumers and to a network of 6,000+ retail stockists. Even reflecting on the retail side of our business, five years ago we didn’t have one. Now our retail arm is just as profitable as online.
“I often think back to that first year as well, we generated approximately $827,000 in revenue. This increased substantially to $26 million in 2018, and then in 2022 we generated a total revenue of $200 million. Our business growth has been exponential since launching.”
C&I: What have been some notable highlights for My Muscle Chef over the past 10 years?
Menon: “The transition from frozen to fresh in 2019 was a stressful period, but looking back now, it was one of the best business decisions we made and was based on extensive research. It helped us broaden our offering and allowed us to speak to a more mainstream market.
“Entering the protein snack category and launching our Protein Cookies in 2021 is another one for me. The protein snack category is an interesting one, and I see a lot of growth opportunities here too. It broadened our online offering to support our customers’ goals more holistically, but it also gave us an offering to expand into convenience retail channels leveraging consumer trends towards healthier, higher protein offerings.
“Last November, we opened our $55 million manufacturing and logistics facility in Yennora. Not only does the site provide additional capabilities across food manufacturing, technology, and logistics, but it demonstrates our commitment to Western Sydney, boosting employment opportunities in the community and contributing to economic growth.”
C&I: How has the industry changed over the past 10 years?
Menon: “There are more players in the market, and this category is getting more and more competitive each day. Healthy competition is good though, it pushes us to continue to innovate and be better. Anyone with a kitchen can enter our category, but the ingredients for scale and quality are often difficult to replicate.
“Moving away from lockdown and entering a post-pandemic world, shopper behaviour and buying habits have changed, and there’s this (fair) expectation for brands to have a seamless omnichannel customer experience.
“Over the last several years, brands within the food and FMCG category have really understood the importance of data. When we started to utilise data and insights, this is when we turned the business around. We figured out who our core customer was, what was working for the brand, and data played a massive role in the move from frozen to fresh. It continues to play a role in our NPD process, marketing, and the ongoing improvements in customer experience.”
C&I: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Menon: “I’m always learning something new. Whether it’s about the people at My Muscle Chef, or whether it’s about myself, this, for me, has been the most enjoyable part of the My Muscle Chef journey.”
C&I: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Menon: “We’ve been in business for ten years now, but I want to reiterate that our customers and our quality are still the number one priority for us.
“One of My Muscle Chef’s company values is about walking in our customers’ shoes, and what we do at My Muscle Chef reflects the customers’ wants, their needs, and their feedback (the good and the bad). We know that customers choose My Muscle Chef because of the quality of our food, and this is something we still obsess over, and we will never compromise on quality or taste.
“I truly think this is what sets us apart, and why we’re just going from strength to strength as a business. Here’s to the next ten years!”