Inside Track: Clean Cut Meals founders Micheal Dyer and Conor McCallion

Having racked up chef, and hospitality and catering experience respectively, pair set about changing people’s diets

Clean Cut Meals founders Micheal Dyer (left) and Conor McCallion: “We definitely hope to saturate the Irish market more. We believe we could probably grow at least another 200 per cent from where we are now.”

Clean Cut Meals founders Micheal Dyer (left) and Conor McCallion: “We definitely hope to saturate the Irish market more. We believe we could probably grow at least another 200 per cent from where we are now.”

 

“We wanted to help people in Galway with their diet but make it interesting, not boring like your plain chicken fillet, your boiled brown rice and your broccoli.” That was the ambition of Clean Cut Meals for friends Micheal Dyer and Conor McCallion. Having racked up chef, and hospitality and catering experience respectively, the pair set about changing the diets of people throughout the 32 counties with their professional food preparation business located in Galway.

What distinguishes your business from its competitors?
Our food prep is 100 per cent transparent; all of our ingredients are prepped naturally in the kitchen by our chefs, with no preservatives and no additives.

We need to invest in our customers if they want to change their life and their lifestyle: it’s not going to happen overnight and they understand that. We need to be with them every step of the way.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in business?
The biggest challenge when we started up was the recognition – the validation of the two of us. We were just fresh out of college. No-one took us seriously. Getting premises was unbelievably hard. We were actually laughed off a couple of sites – “Who the heck are these guys? Their idea is audacious to say the least.”

What’s been your major success to date?
Growing from just the two of us to having 13 full-time employees is success in itself. Transforming and changing peoples lives for the better, that was always the vision of the company – to inspire people and help them realise what healthy food can do for you.

Winning Best Established Business award for Galway Local Enterprise Office at Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur regional awards 2018.

What more could the Government do to help SMEs?
We’ve had so much help from Galway LEO it’s fantastic. Where we feel they [the Government] could help us more is to help companies with expansion, especially expansion to trade or relocate to operate overseas. Our vision is to start to distribute outside of Ireland and eventually to set up in some foreign countries. We don’t feel there is enough help for that.

Do you think that the banks are open for business?
We were very lucky. We didn’t actually need any lending from the bank [in the beginning]. We raised the money ourselves. Since the start, we have been with AIB and, to be honest, they’ve been unbelievable. We have expanded and moved to our new facility; we got approved for an expansion loan with them as well.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
We made a lot of mistakes at the start, obviously. We were two young lads who went into business and we didn’t really expect the growth of the business at the initial stages. I wouldn’t even call them mistakes because they have helped us get sculpted into the people we are today. They were learning curves.

We were very lucky to have mentors to ask along the way to avoid any mistakes.

Whom do you admire in business and why?
I think [businessman and online entrepreneurship influencer] Gary Vaynerchuk is someone whom we admire. We listen to him on a regular basis. We admire him for his work ethic and his passion. The value he brings to other people for free is priceless.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Never spread yourself too thin and always believe in the actions you’re doing for your business. At the start, we questioned ourselves a lot but, as we found out as we went on, every choice we made was for the better.

Where do you see the short-term future for your business?
We definitely hope to saturate the Irish market more. We believe we could probably grow at least another 200 per cent from where we are now. We do see ourselves distributing outside of Ireland by the end of this year to the UK and Europe. And, in 2020, we have our sights on operating in the US.

We are installing a new machine that will give us the shelf life and the packaging that will allow us to ship internationally. We would be looking at 12-14 day shelf life and that’s with no preservatives or additives.

What is your business worth and would you sell it?
The business is valued at about €3 million now but, by the end of 2019, we should be looking at a much higher valuation. We definitely would not sell just now. We set out goals at the start. We want to be an international brand, we want to help people all over the world. Right now we are having a great time with what we are doing. We enjoy our days, we enjoy helping people, we wouldn’t give this up for anything.