Mealhero was founded by Jeroen Spitaels, Anton Claeys and Steven Debaere – 3 alumni of our Masters in General Management (2014), who met during their year at Vlerick. The adventure started from the founders asking themselves: Why is it so hard to eat healthy? And why is it so easy to eat unhealthy? Is it possible to eat easy and healthy? In answer to these questions, they came up with this solution: fresh-frozen ingredients, in innovative combinations, prepared within 25 minutes by a smart steamer. You orchestrate everything via an app that acts as an Internet-of-Things chef right in your kitchen … a true meal hero!
The 2-year-old company has achieved significant growth (from 3 people in 2018 to 30 people in 2020). Mealhero joined the growing trend of ordering meal boxes to provide busy families with healthy convenient nutrition, and the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown the trend into high gear.
But is the growth sustainable? Will customers continue to order Mealhero menus once society returns to more normal operation? The Mealhero concept – and delighted customer testimonials – indicate that the answer is ‘yes, definitely’. Because it facilitates planning a weekly menu, and takes the preparation of a balanced meal off your shoulders, Mealhero fits particularly well in today’s quest for work-life balance.
Another clear indication that the company has a strong product and business model is the fact that the founders raised no less than €2.5 million in venture capital – from the absolute top of Belgium’s food and tech entrepreneurs – even during the economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
Jeroen Spitaels: “Vlerick’s impact on our company is huge. In a nutshell: without Vlerick there wouldn’t be Mealhero. The 3 of us met and became good friends during our Masters programme. We all have different backgrounds: Anton and Steven come from two engineering disciplines, and I grew up in a food business. Bringing all 3 backgrounds together into a similar mindset, with a hunger to do something to really change things, is a direct result of Vlerick.”
“Our Masters programme taught us to think in a different way – to be bold, ambitious, to take risks and really go for it. So, because we have a shared vision about how to do business, company meetings are quite easy for us – and a lot of fun as well!”
“I didn’t feel Vlerick pushing entrepreneurship. I don’t think anyone in our class of 50 participants left the programme thinking ‘tomorrow I’m going to start a business’ – everybody was heading to work for all kinds of interesting companies.”
“But Entrepreneurship is a theme that runs through Vlerick’s programmes – you are encouraged to ‘go out there and do things!’ and to know that everything is possible. Now, looking back at that group of 50 people today, at least 10 or 15 have indeed started their own business. So Vlerick imparts its entrepreneurial spirit pretty effectively, even subconsciously!”