Lunch Box entrepreneur franchisee

Healthy Lunch in a Box catering charms ambitious entrepreneur

Sarah Stowe

Lunch in a Box has proved an exciting new business opportunity for Fiji-born entrepreneur turned franchisee, Sudev Sharma.

Just two months into his brand new catering franchise in Sydney’s Parramatta City and he is already feeling proprietorial about the business!

“I love this brand, and I don’t want anyone else to buy into it!” he jokes. Sudev is ambitious and focused on optimising his new business.

“We have huge market potential in metro and Western Sydney; next week we are delivering an order of beautiful, healthy lunches 20km away. We offer that last mile of service, and our delivery is often what clinches an order,” he says.

Lunch in a Box offer too good to miss

“It was the fantastic product that attracted me to the business. The lunch boxes are well-priced, full of nutritious food, and the variety appeals to different customer groups,” he says.

Sudev also liked the low investment level and simple set-up for business owners that make Lunch in a Box an easy buy-in to the healthy food arena.

The business operates not from a shopfront but a dark kitchen, making the model an ideal plug-in for an existing hospitality business.

For this ambitious entrepreneur the lack of a commercial kitchen was not an obstacle to Lunch in a Box franchise ownership.

“I didn’t have a dark kitchen, so I acquired one,” says Sudev. “Ideally we will use the kitchen for another project – but that’s six months down the track.”

Sudev has another long term goal – he is already thinking about expanding into Queensland.

“Brisbane is going to have the Olympics in 2032 and there will be plenty of construction work. Consumers are now focused on health, and Lunch in a Box is a perfect match,” he says.

“Right now though we are in the exciting building phase. There are just two of us, my nephew and me. He has a double degree in business and a big interest in cooking. We are also trying to recruit one more staff member.”

Entrepreneur eases into business as a Lunch in a Box franchisee

A quiet first month’s trading in December allowed them to hone their knife skills before starting to drive business and marketing initiatives in January.

“The easy part is the kitchen; the hardest part is marketing, but we have help with this from the franchisor. Slowly our corporate orders have increased, and we are getting repeat customers,” says Sudev.

“We are already seeing the benefit of the business and I think it will be a huge success. I want to be on the journey as it grows and learn along the way.”

Sudev is full of entrepreneurial spirit. He has run and operated a cleaning firm, owns an 11-van ice-cream delivery service and has plans to build a sports academy back in Fiji.

“Business is risk,” he says. “Think about it, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t know Facebook would be a hit! I took the risk with Lunch in a Box and Wayne, the franchisor. He is switched on, he’s ambitious; we could connect, we have the same thinking and vision.

“Together we are doing all the essentials to let people know there’s a great brand dedicated to healthy catering options. And once people try it, they want this product.

“The most important thing, I have learned, is to have a strong franchisee/franchisor relationship. That’s why I wanted to start at entry level, to establish rapport and work with the franchisor to grow the business and shape it.”

Sudev’s enthusiasm for business is self-generated. “My father is a retired teacher, mum worked in the civil service. Both my parents are risk-averse, and somehow I am not; I want to invest and take risks,” he says.

Ready for risk and full of vision

In 2013 he did just that – he quit his job to do a full-time MBA. He has since worked in professional environments, including with NSW Health on a seven-year project.

Now as his own boss, he sees the potential of building on existing customer relationships.

“I am the sole director of my business and I am keen for it to grow. I have connections to customers that we can utilise and go into some other business; I just need time. However, I have family, and I don’t want to grow so big I make money but have not time to spend with those I love.”

For Sudev, family support has been, and will continue to be, an important part of the business equation.

It helps that his chosen franchise is food-oriented. “My wife loves cooking so I knew I would have the support and help I need to build up my franchise!” he says.

He has a vision for what the future business will look like.

“We have ice cream customers who when they move to another suburb where we don’t operate, call us up to deliver. I want to be at the same level, so wherever our loyal customers go they will still order Lunch in a Box from me!”