This trio of gym buddies got together to start Yummy Bros to prove that clean eating can be really quite delicious
It all started in a gym. Gerald Tan, Ben Leu and Anson Lim never thought that they would one day be friends, much less business partners. Between legs day and cardio workouts, the trio were regulars at the gym who did not introduce themselves for a long time, only referring to one another as “bro”. Keeping to the “bro code”, they kept conversation short, throwing head nods to acknowledge one another’s presence and speaking only to share weights and equipment.
“We were students back then. It was about 10 years ago. We had no idea that we would be doing business together. We probably didn’t even like each other because of our high testosterones, leading to our big egos. We were just focused on outdoing each other,” jests Tan, CEO of Yummy Bros.
The conversation started first between Tan and Lim, when the topic on sharing equipment moved onto dieting and meal preps. They discussed how achieving a fitness goal is not just about working out and building strength, it is also largely dependent on your diet — eating clean and minding your macros.
Lim, who is COO of the company, felt it was tedious to keep up with preparing his meals. Not only did he have to meticulously weigh his food, but he would also have to spend the time to cook it.
Then came the idea to start Yummy Bros — a business to provide people with delicious and customisable meal prep according to their fitness goals. At first, it was just Tan and Lim, with Tan manning the business and Lim cooking up a storm.
The duo then approached Leu. At first, they wanted Leu to model for their product and be the face of it. But Leu, who is now CFO of the company, saw the potential of the business and wanted to be more than just the model for the brand.
Thus, Yummy Bros was born. Options finds out more about their story.
Why did you guys decide to start this business together?
Gerald Tan (GT): I’ll be honest, I lost some money from a previous business. Back then, I was so focused on making money that I forgot about the customers’ needs. By the time I realised it, it was too late. I was traumatised and broke. But I took it as a critical lesson to not chase funding and valuation but to focus on creating value for customers. Yummy Bros is sort of my redemption.
Anson Lim (AL): I want to help others solve the problem of sticking to a diet and have easier access to healthy and tasty food. My previous job was also one that I was not happy with. I had a contract job to clean and organise ammunition. It was dangerous to my health and luckily we started Yummy Bros so I could leave that job and do something I’m more passionate about.
Ben Leu (BL): I was Yummy Bro’s first customer and the model for the brand. Back then, I was working in a bank but helping Yummy Bros on the side. I couldn’t give them my full commitment at first, but when the business started picking up, I was confident to give it my all.
Can you describe some of your individual roles in the company?
GT: I’m the CEO. I help the company to grow and coordinate the other two co-founders’ efforts. I am also in charge of marketing and customer acquisition, as well as business development.
AL: I handle the relationship between the company and central kitchen. I’m the food guy. When we first started out, I was the chef. But now, I’m in charge of product development, menu creation and especially managing the relationship between the company and our two central kitchens.
BL: As the CFO, I manage the company’s finances and prepare the relevant reports. I have a background in accounting and I come up with the company’s budget and make sure we can bring in healthy revenue. I also make sure we don’t break any law and I manage our logistics.
For more lifestyle, arts and fashion trends, click here for Options Section
What were the early days of Yummy Bros like?
GT: I do miss the early days of our business. It was fun but it was unsustainable. We were small and operating out of Anson’s four-room flat. Back then, we were not entirely sure about the regulations about starting a home business. Storage was also an issue, we did not have enough space to store the food. We even had to “borrow” fridge space from my neighbour just to store some of the food.
AL: I came up with all the recipes for the meals back then. I still do so now, but I don’t have to cook them anymore like I used to. I remember I had to cook till very late at night, while the boys were at my house packing the food. My neighbours were also curious about the noise and smell coming from my house. I remember having to juggle between cooking at night and waking up at 4.30am for work.
How has Yummy Bros grown since?
GT: After about a year of operating in Anson’s house, we thought that we had to expand. We were generating a revenue of about $12,000 then, and with our manpower and storage issues, we thought it better to invest in expanding or shut the business. I brought Anson and Ben into this business not for them to be a slave to it.
I reached out to several investors and wanted to raise money for our expansion. But we couldn’t find anyone to invest with us. In the end, we reinvested our profits and contracted a central kitchen, which solved our manpower and storage issues. Now, all we do is coordinate with the central kitchens and manage our relationship. Anson now only cooks his own meals.
Why is nutrition important and how does Yummy Bros effect a positive change within the community?
GT: There has always been a stigma around dieting and we agree it’s not a fun thing. Before we came around, there were hardly any choices for healthy food and they were always not very enjoyable. The key to losing weight or becoming leaner is keeping to a calorie-deficit diet, and it can be difficult to calculate the calories for every ingredient you use.
Apart from providing healthy and nutritious food with transparent nutritional values, Yummy Bros allows you to customise your meals. Only on our website can you customise the amount you want to eat and what vegetable options you would like, and we show you the total calories and macros of what you have chosen. Then once you have placed your order, we will pack the food according to your desired outcome.
What do you love about your job?
BL: I love working with my bros, Gerald and Anson, because I learn a lot from them. All three of us are very different but we do have a few things that bring us together, like work and working out. So, despite our differences, we have managed to work together harmoniously and I think that’s important.
GT: I particularly enjoy the creative part of my work. I do sometimes miss the days when we were starting out, but we have larger goals.
AL: I enjoy the freedom. I have control over my schedule and I can do things my style. My role also involves me travelling around, which I enjoy too, because I don’t like just sitting down and doing nothing.
What’s next for Yummy Bros?
GT: Our mission is to help as many people as possible with the view that dieting is not all that difficult or strict. It’s all about controlling your calories. We want to help people enjoy their diet and their food. We are thinking of starting a retail store and expanding overseas. We are also not closed off to any potential investors, but if we were to bring on board an investor, they should share a common goal with us and the investment should be to fund our upcoming expansion plans.