Tell us a little bit about yourself? (What is your background in?)
I’m a marketer turned chef and nutritionist. I’m passionate about the science of healthy food and in the process of completing a year long course at the Integrative Institute of Nutrition.
With no formal culinary training, I’m the reigning Champion of the national RoycoFuataFlava cooking contest.
My previous professional and academic background is in business communications and marketing. At just 25, I was hired to lead Google’s consumer marketing efforts in Kenya. At that time that made me the youngest marketing manager among the multinational technology companies set up locally. I was responsible for driving awareness and increased usage of Google’s products. I was also the creative force behind the popular Google Doodles, heading this programme across Africa.
I joined Google from the United Nations Development Programme where I focused on integrated communications efforts across their various projects.Prior to that, at the UN World Food Programme in Italy, I was part of the core team behind WFP’s social media edu-tainment video game – Food Force.
I’m a two-time recipient of the Young Communicator of the Year award bestowed by the Public Relations Society of Kenya. I earned her Masters degree from the Leeds Business School, Leeds Metropolitan University.
How did you end up being an entrepreneur? (How did you get your idea/ concept of the business?)
I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work at the largest INGO in the world – the United Nations and arguably the biggest tech company – Google. Through my experience, I have had the best of both worlds – NGO and corporate, which has been an amazing journey. My last stint at employment was extremely entrepreneurial and it taught me how far I could stretch myself.
With all the travel and long hours, I made a lot of sacrifices, often relinquishing time I would have given to my cooking. My husband and I were both uncomfortable with hiring a domestic helper and would often eat out or order in. Not only was this expensive over time, but we also wondered how the food was prepared and whether it was nutritious. Upon further research, I realized barely any restaurants offered both healthy and delicious meals, and further, none offered an on-demand, weekly meal delivery service to cater to busy young professionals like myself. I felt I needed something more challenging where I could combine my business acumen with my passion for cooking – and this idea could be it. Once the thought popped into my head, it kept growing until I couldn’t ignore it any more. I resigned to pursue my passion.
What problem does your business solve?What services/products do you offer?What is unique about this business?
It’s late afternoon, and your schedule is overflowing. Meetings for this, and reminders for that. You’re overcommitted, under caffeinated and inbox zero seems like a cruel joke.
At some point, you have to figure out what’s for dinner. And when you’re too busy or tired to cook, or you don’t really enjoy your house help’s cooking (if you have one), it’s all too easy to just grab something fast on nights like these. But usually the easy option isn’t the best one for you.
We thought there had to be a better way, and that’s why we started Amanda’s Kitchen. To make the easy option for putting lunch or dinner on the table, the better one for you and the people you care about – even if that table was made for coffee or it’s actually your desk.
In short, we strive to make eating better easier by reinventing the weekday or weeknight meal. Meals are delivered chilled (but not frozen), and designed from the ground up to be restaurant quality out of your microwave or oven. Simple instructions make putting a delicious meal on the table hassle-free. Our meals are fresh, tasty, easy and convenient.
What has been your greatest learning point as an entrepreneur?
Initially, we thought we could kick off the business in a big way and deliver the product exactly as conceived. However, we realized that starting small is the smartest approach in this market, so we learn what model works best as we grow. For that reason, we have started delivering meals backwards, because who doesn’t like to start with dessert? We recently launched our baked goods range, then we’ll expand into smoothies and finally meals.
You recently won the RoycoFuataFlava competition, what would it say it took?
First, I must attribute my win to God. He gave me my natural cooking ability and creativity, without which I could have won. I also have an incredible husband and family who were so supportive throughout the entire experience. Resilience, willingness to stay the course, emotional and physical stamina as well as positive energy were also key to my success. I believe that no matter what you’re doing, you should always try your best. How you do anything is how you do everything. No matter what task you’re faced with – large or small – always seek excellence.
What’s the next big move for Amanda’s Kitchen?
There is quite a bit simmering in Amanda’s Kitchen. We recently launched a desserts line that includes frosted cookies, trifles and crumbles. The Amanda’s Kitchen food blog is up and running, so you can checkout my recipes, cooking tips and random thoughts any time. I’m also working on a YouTube cooking show and some strategic “top secret” partnerships within the culinary industry – stay tuned to see how they unfold.
How did your experience at Sinapis influence your business?
From my previous work and academic experiences, I already understood certain aspects of business, such as marketing, sales and strategic partnerships. In order to launch my startup, I especially needed to discern operations and financials. Sinapis has been instrumental to this – in only 16 weeks I feel much more confident in my ability to build a sustainable business model with sound operational and financial principles. No need for an MBA now!
I have also met an amazing group of people through the sessions. On this seemingly lonely entrepreneurial journey, my cohort mates have been a great source of encouragement and camaraderie. We hold each other accountable and boost morale whenever any of us is feeling down. You can’t put a price on that.
If you had one piece of advice to someone starting out, what would that be?
Human beings are social creatures; God did not design us to live in isolation. The people you surround yourself with have a direct impact on your success and failure. They will affect everything from how much you exercise and what clothing you wear to how much you earn and what values you deem important. So, if you want to live a life full of joy and accomplishment, you need to become masterful at building relationships with good people you respect, and letting go of relationships that have a negative impact.