Startup Stories: Isabelle Dunn, Founder of PreppedFRESH

PreppedFRESH founder, Isabelle Dunn, joined us to chat about how she went from leaving the corporate world behind to running her own start-up.

by hao-nguyen on November 11, 2021

Isabelle Dunn is the founder of PreppedFRESH, an Australian direct-to-consumer startup offering smarter cooking, as well as Tasty Content, a food content production agency.

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Hi Isabelle, it’s really great to have you back chatting with us. Last time we spoke, it was about how you were balancing the grind as a start-up founder. For those who may not know, do you mind telling us a little about PreppedFRESH and what inspired you to launch it?

I grew up in France in a family of avid cooks and food lovers. For me, cooking and eating together has always been a lot more than a routine task. It’s a chance to listen, share, laugh and talk. It’s really shaped who I am today.

Now as a busy working mum of two, and living in Australia, I’ve been finding it extremely challenging. The competing demands of work and life can leave us with little time to cook, with fresh vegetables and herbs often going off before we get to them.

My purpose is to offer solutions that streamline meal preparation and reduce effort, to reignite the joy of cooking, without compromise. PreppedFRESH was created to empower the next generation of home chefs with less prep and zero food waste.

Before starting PreppedFRESH, you spent over 15 years working in the corporate world. What was the transition like from working in a corporate environment to running your own start-up?

When I first realised I wanted something different, I felt a deep sense of regret, that maybe I had missed my path. However, what I did not fully appreciate was how much of what I had learnt – my skills, training and connections – were transferrable and valuable to set me up for my next chapter.  Once I realised that, it made the transition a lot more seamless.

Transitioning into my own groove, with a full focus and total autonomy has been a game-changer. I am still working hard and long hours, but I pick my priorities, pace, and workflow to be hyper-productive, while feeling energised and fulfilled.

If you were talking to someone who had never worked at a start-up before, but they were interested, how would you describe it so they could understand what it would be like?

On one hand, it’s incredibly exciting and inspiring. It opened a whole new world for me and I feel more alive than ever. On the other hand, it’s also extremely exhausting, both physically and mentally.

Like most people in that situation, I juggled both a demanding day job and my new business for two years. Working 4x days a week in my day job, and doing a night shift on the business, I was probably adding at least 4 hours once the kids were in bed, as well as the weekends. I did the maths and realised I worked the equivalent of 8 working days a week for the best part of two years.

But the more you sacrifice, the more committed you become, and that becomes a huge inner driver and allows me to channel my passion – so much more satisfying and rewarding than a typical corporate job. However, it’s true that you absolutely have to feel truly passionate about the problem you’re solving to really last the distance.

What have been some of your biggest challenges since launching PreppedFRESH and what have been the key lessons you’ve learnt from them?  

The COVID pandemic has definitely made things a lot more challenging, both waves, but the second one more so – with restricted access to partner facilities, stock flow and general mobility around Sydney.

However, once a multitasker, always a multi-tasker and the forced halt on operations also gave me a bit more time and headspace to set up another food-related venture I’ve had in mind for a while. This time to help other food businesses thrive. Tasty Content is about making food content production more accessible, efficient, and impactful. Services include zero-waste food styling, as well as recipe development, photography, and recipe video production. Watch this space!

One last question before we leave you to get back to it, what are your big plans for PreppedFRESH? Where do you see it headed in the next 12 months? 

Seamless operations from sourcing through to prepping, packing and delivery is the next critical step for scalability, which can be achieved via a strategic partnership. At PreppedFRESH as it stands, our expertise in delivering a customer-centric user journey, fueled by rich and engaging content, in order to stimulate customer demand and loyalty.

We already have all key brand, product, and digital assets, including an SEO-friendly e-commerce website (with 150+ pages and 80+ recipes), various social communities and CRM flows. Our ideal strategic partner would be a more traditional B2B/ wholesale player, with robust logistics already in place and ambition to fast-track a direct-to-consumer solution.

Thanks so much Isabelle, it was great to chat to you about your story, and we’re looking forward to watching PreppedFRESH grow!

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