Diet meal deliveries add perspective to the weight war busy urbanites are waging, often against themselves.
Behind Happy Diet Delivery, one such business and among the fastest-growing in the metro, is the idea that dieting need not be punishing. A healthy eater is also a happy one.
Owner Kriska Kalingking said that while fried and pork dishes are out, their offerings range from breakfast staples with a twist such as oatzcaldo (a twist to the Filipino porridge) to pastas such as their self-made pesto and vegetable lasagna, to Filipino favorites such as adobo, kare-kare, and sinigang – which should not scare off weightwatchers.
An in-house nutritionist helps her and her co-owner-slash-fiancé plan the standard 1200- to 1400-calorie daily meals, and jazz up the menu.
They deliver early mornings, 5 days a week, anywhere between Fairview in Quezon City and Alabang in Muntinlupa.
A year after inception, Happy Diet already has more than 40,000 Instagram followers and an estimated 1000% client growth, with a posted package of “P500 ($11.27) a day, 3 happy meals, and two snacks inclusive of delivery.”
But it all started as an accidental discovery for its owners.
Serendipity and social media
Because Kriska had always loved to cook and her partner was into fitness and dieting, both decided to shed pounds for summer 2014 by eating healthy. Preparing diet meals “was a personal thing that we needed to do, and then friends picked up on it,” she shared.
An interior designer by profession, Kriska began posting Instagram-worthy photos of her creations and their progress as a couple. Friends saw the effects and wanted in, so she obliged and charged only for the food at first.
She used the opportunity as a springboard for a small Internet-based business. As she has always been enterprising, her track record includes managing her own clothing line; juggling marketing and freelance interior design jobs; and further back, selling chocolates to buy stuff she wanted as a kid.
“It’s always been the track that I wanted, to be an entrepreneur, to be my own boss. And then cooking has been my passion because I have had no choice but to cook for the family. The friends who surrounded me, they love to cook also,” she said.
Happy Diet was born in March 2014 and got wide exposure just in its second month, when a friend’s celebrity mom became a client. Soon enough, they were delivering to an entire cast during tapings and getting shout-outs from local stars on social media.
Kriska admitted that they were “undermanned for the demand” when it spiked, so initially, they enlisted her family’s househelp to cut vegetables. Eventually, they hired in-house employees and part-time delivery guys.
“As we started hiring, that’s when we were able to focus on other things aside from operations,” she said. Her younger sister Pat also jumped onboard to handle the paperwork and marketing.
Ironing out logistics is still the toughest. Even now, drivers have to leave the headquarters as early as 3 am to beat the traffic.
Minus the route and weather-related problems, “everything is okay” because the drivers follow a school bus system.
Customers are also more understanding of minor delivery setbacks. This is because, apart from having tried Happy Diet, they know firsthand how congested Metro Manila roads can get especially during the rainy season.
While most customers-on-the-go prefer the convenience brought by Happy Diet, some choose it to lose weight or to complement their medications.
Kriska told of a friend’s father, a diabetic, who has had improved fasting blood sugar levels since he followed their meal plans. Now he recommends the company to patrons visiting his shop.
After receiving similar stories from other clients, they thought of tying up with the hospital where Kriska’s aunt works so they can provide their diet programs to patients suffering from diabetes and other conditions.
On the other hand, they also have this client who joined a company-sponsored weight loss challenge for bosses. Dropping 60 pounds during the game’s course, he beat colleagues who went after Cohen and other expensive diets.
Another customer, a friend named Kristine, weighed 220 pounds when she jumpstarted with Happy Diet’s program. 70 pounds lighter now, she makes the transition to Happy Diet’s sister company, Shredd, that targets people who work out.
Beyond social media
Apart from growing Shredd, Kriska also looks forward to having the first Happy Diet dine-in and take-out counter this year. The 20-square-meter space, strategically located below a gym, will be the practice area for their franchising venture in the future.
When social media ceases as a good tool, “we will have something that is more constant” with a physical store, she explained.
There is nothing accidental anymore in Happy Diet Delivery’s expansion from a purely online platform to brick-and-mortar. Instead, she and her team have done it by working hard and smart – stretching their patience, keeping expenses at the minimum, and always learning.
Whether this business found her or she found it, Kriska is happy that it clicks: cooking healthy meals for others, so that they in turn can cull the extra pounds and stay in shape.
“For all the others, [I was] just spending on working again,” she shared. “So if you have an idea, go do it. Don’t over-plan. Most of the lessons you’ll need are not written in the book. You’ll learn them by experience.” – Rappler.com
A freelance business writer, Shadz Loresco follows stories on entrepreneurs, technology, and finance. Her background includes 5 years of writing and editing for online business-to-business (B2B) marketing and reputation management.
US$1 = P44.37