She was serving her stay home notice (SHN) and was locked in her hotel room with nowhere to go. 28-year-old Madelene Eng, then a partnerships and collaborations executive with a job in New York City had just flown back and was feeling restless.This was back in March 2020. She had returned because Covid-19 was getting serious and her father had pressured her to come home to Singapore.
While idling away in her hotel room, Madelene suddenly craved for some snacks that she could eat, so she went online for a search. To her dismay, there were limited options as most stores only sell their individual brands.
Then an idea struck her – why not start a business selling boxes of assorted snacks to people who are “stuck” like her?
The opportunity was now, she decided, to try out running a business and the SHN gave her just the free time to work out her idea.
“I always wanted to start something of my own before I hit the age 30, and I’ve had many ideas in the past but never followed through with them. After this idea came to mind and weighing out the risks, I decided to take the leap. Being cooped up in SHN gave me ample time to really work through it,” Madelene said.
The founder and CEO of snack box subscription service MUNCHEES has never looked back since. She left her Big Apple job to take the road less travelled.
Madelene launched her business officially in June last year. In just 12 months, her business has hit profitability, and has since served major clients like DBS, Mediacorp, GovTech, and the Ministry of Education.
She sells work from home snacks and remote team snacks on a subscription based method. The snacks rotate every month, so customers will not get bored with the same snacks.
A personal snack box starts from S$28.50, consisting of 12 different snacks and may include childhood favourites like Pola Snacks, Hello Panda, as well as Bee Bee crackers.
MUNCHEES also sells remote team snacks for companies who are looking to deliver them to team mates to bring up the work morale as people are mostly working from home in this period.
It offers office box snacks to companies who need to stock up their office pantries too, for workers who have to clock in.
“With the amount of hours that people spend working each day, I believe a positive work environment and company culture is more crucial now than ever. As they say, the greatest asset of a company is its people,” said Madelene.
“For your employees to perform their best, they need to feel their best – and what better way to achieve that easily with some wholesome snacks to fuel you up during the work day. Offering a subscription model makes this possible in the most hassle-free seamless way,” she said.
Companies also recognise this importance, as Madelene said that the bulk of MUNCHEES orders are from corporates who are sending personal boxes to their teams and staff at home.
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When she created the company, Madelene decided that she would offer wellness snacks instead of all types of snacks so that customers can feel safe to eat them without concerns of health risks.
The snack boxes are “healthier” as they do not contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats, said the MUNCHEES CEO.
The boxes are also curated to allow for a variety of snack options. There’s healthier snacks that are organic, all natural, and allergen free.
The clients do not choose the snacks that go into the boxes. “Part of the value and excitement of receiving a MUNCHEES box whether personal or from the office is that it’s always a surprise and delight, allowing recipients to discover new snacks,” she explained.
MUNCHEES delivers to all areas of Singapore and uses third party courier services to send out the orders. It also mails them to overseas customers.
While curating her snack boxes, Madelene wanted to support local businesses who are going through the pandemic as well, so she included local Singapore snack brands like Amazin’ Grace, Tong Garden, and Natureally.The concept has been well received by Singaporeans, and Madelene said that the business is currently cash flow positive.
Sharing one of the most tiring moments while running the business was when a bulk order came suddenly in the third month of the business: A large order of 450 snack boxes for Ubisoft Singapore. Madelene had to frantically look for all the help she could get to deliver the order to the client. She had to rope in part timers and friends to deal with the sudden surge.
Although Madelene is currently running the business full time all on her own, she is ready to look at running the ship with more hands on deck.“Growth plans will really depend on the current pandemic situation but the first step will definitely be to start building a team – which I am actively doing now,” she shared.
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