Interview with Qadreya Al Awadhi, Founder and CEO, of Bumblebee Food
Qadreya Al Awadhi is the Founder and CEO, of Bumblebee Food. The Emirati home-grown is a female owned start-up that provides ready-made frozen meal plan for babies and toddlers. The brand’s menu is carefully developed by a paediatric nutritionist and a certified chef; in addition, all ingredients are sourced locally and organic when possible.
The protein used is hormone-free and grass-fed. Bumblebee Food is cooked from scratch, including the sauces, to offer various new flavours and textures to every meal to cater to every child needs. The company’s mission is to ensure your baby develops a healthy and sustainable relationship with food.
What’s your career background?
I studied finance in college and took my master’s in international business. My career background in also in finance.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
All of my family and friends have children; hence I got to see what my friends were feeding their children. I was unimpressed by what they were feeding them but understood most choices were made due to its convenience.
I wanted to help but it wasn’t until I had to babysit my friend’s son that I truly realized the quality of food served at the supermarkets, they were bland, lacked color and flavor because of the additives and preservatives in it. This is when I started to think of providing a healthy alternative for the babies and kids.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
When I babysat my friend’s son, I did not like the meal choices available at the supermarket, hence I decided to cook for him myself. I soon started cooking for my other friends’ kids and got good feedback. This is when I started to develop a business plan and even went to culinary school afterwards.
What’s your USP?
We are the only business that serves freshly frozen baby food. Our pouches are made for mess free feeding and easy travel, in fact, our customers have now taken our pouches to Maldives, Monaco, Kuwait and London
Who’s your target audience?
Our target is new and working mothers. However, our meals and packaging are easy and convenient to use for any caretaker stressing about mealtime.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I relied on word of mouth as everyone I know has children, this enabled me to grow organically and really connect with the others moms.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
The packaging design itself. It is resealable, reusable and BPA free, hence can be carried with you anywhere. This allows for easy and mess feeding, this aspect turned out to be the biggest with customers as they wanted something that can easily fit in their purse or their kids’ lunchbox.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Starting the business from scratch was not easy, I have no background in entrepreneurship not the baby food market. However, I kept persevering and learning as much as I could, now here I am.
And your proudest moment so far?
For me, the best part is always getting the mothers’ positive feedback. I started the business to help them and take care of their meal planning, so to see them benefit from that is always the highlight of my day.
Why is work so important to you?
Taking care of another tiny human is not easy, sometimes even the little things can get overwhelming, and you can feel alone and defeated.
I identified an area that can help alleviate that stress for new and working moms, and this is when the work became started to mean much more as I was, in a way, responsible for feeding another tiny human.
Who inspires you?
My parents are my inspiration, they gave me the best childhood and always supported my dreams, no matter what I wanted to do. Their love and support is what inspires me every day to work harder to achieve my dream.
How do you balance your work with your family?
It is not easy, especially in the beginning when I had to start the business from scratch. I sacrificed a lot of family time to grow my business, but my family were very understanding and supported me throughout the whole process.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
As cliche as it sounds, but I will say never give up on your dreams. I faced many challenges when I started that made me want to quit, however I kept going and I was eventually able to launch the business successfully.
Another piece of advice I would give is always study the market you wish to enter so you are well prepared for any obstacles you might face. Finally, always try to surround yourself with the right support system as they will be the ones cheering you on when you feel like giving up.
Find out more about Bumblebee Food.