When Jono Sorenson and fiance Lucy Leckie researched the idea of a 'build your own' muesli breakfast venture, they found it was already big business in Europe. So armed with savings from their salaries, they're building The Muesli Hub, designed to get the day's most important meal back at the top of our agenda.
Sorenson's part time as a sales director at Diverse Media, while Leckie's a senior digital planner/buyer at FCB. With the business registered last September, they've squirrelled away their salaries to fund the venture to the tune of a couple of tens of thousands.
The Muesli Hub is billed as “a platform to build your own muesli online and have it delivered to your door”. Through a website created by Kagwa Kironde of Dream Config, customers can choose either 500 grams or 1 kilo. They then select a base, followed by nuts, fruit, seeds and sweets if they like, some extras costing more than others. It's then delivered to the customer's door.
After two weeks, there are already almost 1700 likes on the Facebook page, and “a lot of sharing”. Sorensen says they’re processing orders – every one of them completely different – in their fully-certified commercial kitchen in Point Chevalier, which they converted from an art gallery. “We mix orders daily ourselves in the hub and send them out the next morning with NZ Couriers. This is making for some late nights, but we love it.”
The duo is already making money and the ultimate aim is to work full-time on The Muesli Hub. In time, they want to take it global.
"To build a crafted New Zealand brand to take to other countries is a nice proposition," says Sorenson. That could then extend to adding condiments and accessories like bowls and spoons - anything that would facilitate "re-prioritising breakfast".
The market for delivered ingredients and meals has surged ahead in New Zealand in recent years - with the likes of My Food Bag, Foodbox, and smaller players like Tomette.
The muesli idea’s not new: when he was living in Australia Sorenson first noticed customised muesli makers, such as Mix My Muesli and Muesli Mixer. Even New Zealand had one by the time he got home - the Nelson-based Muesli & Co – but Sorensen says he's chasing a different audience, not a particular demographic, but one that aspires to a certain lifestyle.
"They're savvy with brands and online shopping," says Sorenson. "It could be a 20 year-old or a 50 year-old."
Sorenson says online shopping is driving a consumer trend towards buying food from alternative suppliers rather than the big supermarkets, and buying more often and in smaller amounts. “Consumers are now very brand savvy, and they’re a negative flow against big international brands … many people are now looking outside the supermarket to get their meat, fruit and veges – and there’s now less need for the huge weekly shop.”
He says the transition from ad agency to entrepreneur was easy, as over the last ten years he’s been working with brands to connect with consumers. He’s seen how consumers work with advertising – putting something into the market and seeing how they react – and he says it’s quite exciting now owning the whole process. “It’s quite nice now working with the end user, talking with consumers. And having a lot of control over the bottom line.”