Door-to-door meal plan provider GourmetFuel is positioning itself for significant growth following the repayment of a €1 million investment.
The funding, which GourmetFuel received in 2018, came from the Davy EIIS Tax Relief Fund through BDO. The meal company now plans to add 40 jobs across food production, science, nutrition and technology. That will bring its total number employed to more than 100.
GourmetFuel is also planning to increase its meals delivered from 65,000 per month to 120,000, and to open its services to corporates as well as individual customers.
Founded by siblings Rob and Emma Buckley, GourmetFuel offers healthy meals to customers’ doors, providing specialised nutritional advice, freshly cooked meals and convenience, powered by technology. The €1 million investment was used to fund expansion of its operation to a factory operation employing more than 60 people, increasing recruitment, funding production equipment and investment in specialised technology. The company uses algorithms to help consumers to easily develop meal plans or order specific meals to suit individual dietary needs while also automatically calculating calorie consumption.
“Receiving an investment like we did was big to us, it was a big, big amount of money for us,” said Mr Buckley. “It’s nice to be able to take on the obligation and repay it on time at the agreed price. It’s a real confirmation and affirmation that we’re doing well and we’re doing the right things. It was, for me personally. a real sense of achievement, being able to see them on the day four years later, and say here you go, this is what we said we promised and this is what we’ve delivered.”
The technology GourmetFuel has implemented allows the company to offer a virtual canteen service for companies with both office and home-based workers
“There’s an awful lot of businesses out there who are conscious about their employees’ health and wellbeing who would put some form of contribution towards either sustaining them while they’re in work or giving them some sort of an allowance for the purchase of things that can make them healthy,” Mr Buckley said. “Those employees can place orders on our own website. Typically, corporate catering is on site, whereas our virtual catering services wherever you are; we will deliver it to wherever you work.”
Ms Buckley, who is director of nutrition at Gourmet Fuel, said the company had evolved over time from a sports-focused meal business to a healthy option for people who wanted the convenience of the meal deliveries.
“When we started the business we definitely were thinking of it as a health solution. We were focusing on people who were going to the gym or maybe running races or sports teams, the people that were focused on food as fuel – hence the name GourmetFuel,” she said. “That was really what the genesis of the idea was but then we realised very quickly, within a year of our operation, that people were coming to us for a specific health goa, initially, but then they were just staying with us because of the convenience of it and it was just tasty food that they didn’t have to think about.”