David Brhel of Nutric Bistro tells us about nutrient-rich food.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Nutric Bistro.
David Brhel: It all started in DHL, the logistics company. But after I worked there for 5 years and later another 3 years in the air traffic control industry, I got sick of my corporate career. At about the same time, my chronic disease, multiple sclerosis, got somewhat worse due to a lot of night shifts and working late because of coming deadlines. I did a lot of research on how a change of diet can improve one’s health. So I started cooking for myself, following the principles of a paleo diet with lots of organic meat, wild fish, heaps of vegetables, fruit, and some healthy fat and nuts. It worked for me just fine, and it made my life and the disease easier to manage. However, I was spending long hours in my kitchen every single day. That eventually made me start a business that helps people fight similar chronic diseases with food.
Although we started selling paleo and low carb food a few years later after it became popular in the US, then almost nobody ever heard about it in central Europe. That made the beginning quite difficult as we had to explain again and again what a huge difference even small changes in diet can make. Later, the people tried the food and realized that it worked, and they felt better. Even food with a “diet” label can be really tasty. First, Nutric Bistro delivered individual paleo meals; however, 2 years later, we added low carb meals and started selling meal kit subscriptions instead.
Now, another 7 years down the track, almost everyone has heard about paleo, which makes communication easier. The difficulty is that the price of high quality and nutrient-rich food is still usually not by 20%, but instead 200 % more expensive than the traditional western diet.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
David Brhel: I was about 15 years old when my grandma told me that no matter whatever I ever do, my relationships with other people will define everything in my life. How successful or how happy I will be. I agreed but didn’t fully understand the meaning of that.
Later I recognized that it doesn’t really matter whether I am right or wrong in an argument. Whether I am rightful according to some written, legally-binding contract or a “billion-dollar order” over a phone. The relationship with the other side defines our ability to conclude a dispute with some agreement. A real relationship is built on mutual trust, respect, and no lies. Strong relationships with our customers helped so much to get over so many fuckups.
I always try to make pleasant surprises or a joke when I come to the office, and it makes the start of work much more fun.
How does Nutric Bistro market its product/services online?
David Brhel: As an organically growing startup, we have to operate with a limited marketing budget and a very limited number of people in marketing. We use external experts in specific marketing areas such as SEO or PPC. In order to limit the impact of significant changes on the online market (such as the upgrade to macOS 14), we try to use as many acquisition channels as possible. As a result, no single channel is performing for us perfectly. While we get about 70 % of our orders from organic traffic, we were able to achieve substantial sales through affiliate channels. So we focus on these two channels the most. For some unknown reason, PPC never worked for us.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
David Brhel: We use Collabim.com, Ubersugest, Ahrefs, Hotjar for seo and ux monitoring. We keep track of all marketing tasks in Freelo.io, and we track software development using Redmine.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
David Brhel: The Paleo lifestyle, which is more than a diet, turns a lot of things upside down. It’s not about hunting mammoths, it’s a return to the basics. It’s about fixing malnutrition, it’s about the price of ingredients not being the most important criteria when choosing what to eat for dinner. It’s about getting enough exercise and finding a way to relax. It’s about getting enough sleep. Most people in western society don’t suffer from lack of food, but they suffer from nutrient malnourishment. They suffer from a lack of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and trace elements. 60 % of people in western countries are fat and sick because they eat highly processed food with very low nutrient density. 15 % of the US population suffers from insomnia. Then when it comes to the question of “how to get better again”, most sick people choose a 3-gram pill rather than thinking about all of the 1500-2500 grams of food they eat every day. Making smart choices in a diet means less pills and less side effects.
Adhering to the paleo mindset and putting peoples’ health first seems to be critical for a great employee of Nutric Bistro. I find most of the current gastro- and food-companies rotten as some of them sell food made of cheap ingredients they know harm people. For instance, Nestle released internal research results concluding that over 60 % of its products are not healthy. The ingredients, cost, and profit margin are the mantra. Most potential employees in the market in our industry have this kind of buy cheap, sell expensive mindset. This kind of behavior or thinking became so prevalent and omnipresent that hiring anyone with 10 or 20 years of experience does our business only harm. People who have been using wheat flour or sugar (both forbidden in the paleo diet and proven to cause health issues) all their life cause more pain than kids fresh out of school. I prefer enthusiastic youngsters to the ones “old school” experienced.
How are you funding your growth?
David Brhel: We have been growing organically up until now, but we will be seeking VC funding this year.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
David Brhel: Since the Covid time, it became more natural for many new customers to order food delivery instead of dining out, but it also brought many new competitors. However, we assume that most of the new entries will be gone any time soon. The high quality of ingredient sourcing is paramount to our business. We strive to stay at the lead of the clinical research studying the long-term effects of a low-carb diet on carbs metabolism. Ordering food delivery subscriptions and suspending for vacation or business trips must be super easy so that people are in full control and not afraid of staying hungry. We will be launching a new self-service this year, giving our customers much better control of their orders.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
David Brhel: We take the edge in leading research in the management of diabetes mellitus, both types 1 and 2. Some of our customers were able to achieve a remission of diabetes type 2 symptoms. That means the monitored levels of diabetes markers dropped down to healthy levels. Our most successful customer Brigitt (age 54), lost over 30 kg in a duration of 9 months of a monitored clinical study. She does not take insulin infusions any longer.
Your final thoughts?
David Brhel: I hope there will be more competition in the future, which means people have woken up and started eating better. Together we will not save the rainforest or stop the wars, but at least heal the world a bit.