While some start-ups are the result of a eureka moment, for Right Bite founder Nathalie Haddad, starting her own business was a natural progression from her day job as a dietician.
“I was counselling individuals at the time on the importance of healthy eating and disease prevention,” she says. “Individuals would tell me, ‘Okay, you tell us what to eat and how to eat, but … we don’t have access to healthy food.’”
So in 2004, Haddad started Right Bite, a Dubai-based catering company specialising in freshly prepared, tailored meals.
“I started on a very small scale,” she recalls. “I started from a friend’s café where I would see clients in the daytime, and we would produce the food at night. I had one driver and one admin helping out, and we grew organically from there.”
As her client base expanded, Haddad invested in her own central kitchen, and has gradually branched out within the healthy catering space. Today, in addition to personalised meal plans and nutritional consultations, Right Bite provides corporate catering and an on-demand delivery service, and even has a chic little café in Dubai Sports City.
Haddad cites being everyone’s go-to person as one of her biggest challenges. “Everybody will come to you with questions that you might not have the answers to all the time, but needing to provide them with answers, needing to provide them with continuous motivation and keep them going (is a challenge),” she says.
Yet she is adamant that it’s all about having a positive attitude. “There weren’t any major obstacles,” she says. “I learnt and did things as they came, and when you’re passionate about what you do, you don’t really think of any challenges as obstacles, but more as a learning experience.”
Indeed, she believes that the experience of constantly learning and being challenged is one of the best things about being an entrepreneur.
“I don’t think there’s ever a time when you can sit back and say, ‘I’m done and I’ve done it all,’” Haddad reflects. “Every single day you wake up, what you’ve planned for the day is not how it will turn out, and you always have to push yourself to learn, to look at what’s new on the market, and look for new ways to improve your business.
“You’re responsible for a lot of people, and that keeps you going day on day.”
Right Bite currently employs around 170 people, and Haddad sees her team as a family. “We’ve grown together and been through ups and downs together and come out stronger – which again is rewarding as an entrepreneur to have members of your team believe in you and the business, and help make the business what it is,” she says.
While acknowledging how quickly the food and beverage industry can evolve, Haddad emphasises the need to stick to your own strategy and business aspirations.
“The market is continuously changing, as is customer spending behaviour and awareness of the importance of health and what they eat on their overall wellbeing. It is important to be quick to adapt to market changes and consumer demands – as long as you stay true to your core values and vision as a business,” she says.
Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? For a start, have a strategy in place, something that Haddad says she didn’t have initially. “We just continuously worked, worked, worked, worked. I never took a step back and said, ‘Okay, where do I want to be in 5 years’ time, where do I want to be in 10 years’ time?’”
Haddad advises making the effort to pause and ask where you want to be and what you want to achieve, and planning accordingly.
“There’s a lot more hard work than what you see as a customer, and there’s a lot of details going into it,” she says. “And for you to succeed, you need to be on top of the details. Focus on the quality and the service that you offer your customers.”
As with any business, it ultimately boils down to being passionate about your work. “Love what you do, work hard, focus on the details and everything pays off at the end,” she concludes.