How Tushar Menon Turned His Meal-Prepping Dread Into A $200 Million Empire
— Updated on 14 March 2023

How Tushar Menon Turned His Meal-Prepping Dread Into A $200 Million Empire

— Updated on 14 March 2023
Garry Lu
WORDS BY
Garry Lu

The solution seemed so obvious, it was almost baffling that nobody had attempted to address the problem before My Muscle Chef Co-Founder & CEO, Tushar Menon, came into the picture circa 2012.

“Mate, when I was into the gym, that was all I cared about. I used to do my meal prep every morning at 5:30 AM before I went to work and uni; counted my chicken, broccoli, brown rice, and had all my containers ready to go,” the Aussie entrepreneur explained to BH.

“I did that all the time and was super disciplined… I remember even when I used to go out with my friends for lunch at a pub, I had my takeaway containers with me (I was one of those guys).”

“I guess it got to a point where I got sick of doing it, really. It was just a time thing, and sometimes after a long day at work, you don’t want to be meal prepping, even on weekends. I looked online for a suitable option for me and, surprisingly, nothing was available.”

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“There were quite a few weight loss options, but nothing for someone that either wants to build muscle or fuel gym performance. And that really was the lightbulb moment.”

Recalling the lack of (reasonably edible) ready-made nutritious meals with the desirable macros, Menon added: “I realised there were so many people in the exact same situation as I am: studying, working full time, they love going to the gym, playing sports, staying active… Why is there nothing?”

Despite what was already quite a full plate between the final years of his Commerce, Finance, & Accounting degree at UNSW, a fast-paced sales gig at insurance company MetLife Australia, plus his aforementioned devotion to the church of iron (see: the featured image above), Menon had caught the mouthwatering scent of opportunity, and decided something had to be done.

“I called my brother Nishant, he was actually – at the time – part of this startup incubating program over in San Francisco, so he’d already sort of kickstarted his journey, and told him about this great idea. ‘I think we need to give this a try, no one’s doing it. Before someone else thinks of it.'”

How Tushar Menon Turned Meal Prepping Into A $200M Empire (My Muscle Chef)
Tushar (left) & Nishant – the brothers behind My Muscle Chef.

“He was on board straight away. He wrapped up what he was doing there and came over in mid-2012. We spent about six months planning what we needed to do.”

As with many million-dollar strokes of genius, in the grand scheme of things, figuring out the “what” was relatively easy. The success of what we’d eventually come to know as My Muscle Chef hinged entirely upon the “how” (read: execution).

Tushar Menon continued: “The two of us had no experience in food or any background in food. Our family doesn’t have a history in business, either. So it was a very, very steep learning curve. It was a lot of learning.”

“I focused very much on the operational, food side of the business, and getting the product out to the customer. Nish’s main focus was on the marketing. We were online only at that stage, so setting up the website, growing the online business, marketing, that was all sort of his domain.”

“Having him there made a big difference. That way I could focus on the operations, understand how to establish the business, find the kitchen, find the chefs, and get that going.”

“My dad had just retired and he needed something to do, so he played a very crucial role in the very early days, helping me set up the kitchen, helping me with the deliveries.”

It’s at this point during our interview that the possibility dawns on us: the Potts Point-founded enterprise actually has a pretty solid claim to being the first modern “ghost kitchen,” long before the advent of the countless delivery apps would formally instigate (and proliferate) the concept’s usage.

“At the time, there was nobody doing this specific service. I remember at the time, a few companies did start like we did with our lightbulb moment.”

“Youfoodz started in 2013. There used to be a company called Muscle Meals or something that also started around the same time. That almost validated the idea for us, like, ‘We’ve got a bit of competition now so we need to make this work.'”

Staying the course would pay dividends in practically no time.

According to news.com.au, Year 1 generated approximately $827,000 in revenue. Menon personally revealed to us that annual revenue has increased by quite a margin since then – $26 million in 2018, before ballooning to around $80 million the following year. In 2022, My Muscle Chef generated a wildly impressive estimated total revenue of $200 million.

“No, definitely not. Definitely not,” Tushar Menon chuckled when prompted about whether he’d ever anticipated this monstrous rate of growth.

“The first couple of years – I wouldn’t say they were slow – we did make good progress but not to the scale we are today.”

How Tushar Menon Turned Meal Prepping Into A $200M Empire (My Muscle Chef)

“It was only probably Year 5, so like 2018, that we realised, ‘OK, we’re onto something. We can make this a really big business.'”

“That was when we moved from doing frozen meals to fresh meals. We did a massive rebrand as well, we moved away from our muscly chef logo to the logo we have now. We also expanded to retail. A lot of things happened in 2018… That really was the turning point.”

So what advice does a man as accomplished as Tushar offer for the budding entrepreneur of tomorrow?

“The thing that really stands out is getting the right people on board at the right time. This worked in our favour and against us… We probably took four-five years to build a team around us because we did everything ourselves from delivery to customer service to packing the orders, the kitchen – we just wanted to be across everything.”

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The positive: “We know the business inside out. 10 years on, we’re across everything in the business and that helps you gain a level of clarity. You have an overview of the business where you can make decisions and understand the impact across the board.”

The downside: “We probably held back our growth and scale. We probably could’ve scaled up sooner getting the right people on board in terms of marketing, product development, sales, operations. We started working on this in 2018.”

As for what the future holds for Tushar Menon, his older brother and co-founder Nishant, as well as the company as a whole, there’s simply no telling where the limit is; if indeed there is any.

Having recently launched an entire line of products outside of ready-made dinners and lunches – i.e. low-calorie meals, high-protein snacks (muffins, cookies), shakes, vegan nibblies – what was once a time-poor uni student’s greatest dread has snowballed into a wholesale takeover.

From shopping aisles to your very doorstep, My Muscle Chef has definitively proven you don’t need to compromise your well-being and food-related satisfaction for convenience. And in case we haven’t already made it painfully clear, plenty of people are more than happy to fork out some cash for this privilege.

“I want to double the business within the next 24 months. That’s the goal for us here, and we have quite a few exciting projects going on.”

Garry Lu
WORDS by
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]