(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) It was while discussing a common problem that Marie-Christine Luijckx and three friends came up with a successful business model. Luijckx and her friends were doing long working hours in their corporate jobs with very few healthy food choices resulting in loss of productivity at the workplace. They thus decided to establish Fruitful Day, a business that delivers curated selections of fresh fruit to workplaces and homes across the UAE in 2015.
"Since its launch, we have expanded into home deliveries and gifting. At the heart of everything we do is great tasting seasonal fresh fruit," says Luijckx, founder and managing director of Fruitful Day.
Luijckx has been living in Dubai for 12 years and has a background in finance. She says that through the creation of Fruitful Day, she is leveraging her business knowledge to help Dubai's workplaces become healthier and happier.
"We felt that for companies and workplaces, it is important for employers to value their relationships with their employees and to show that they care about the health and quality of their employees' lives," she says.
Luijckx says the mission of Fruitful Day is to make a healthy lifestyle easier and more accessible to all.
"By 2030, half of humankind is expected to be overweight and we want to do our part to fight this frightening trend. We all know that healthy living is a long-term project - not something you can check off your to-do list after a single day. We believe that work and life can be better every day by making small choices towards a healthier lifestyle and we can be a part of inspiring that daily change," she describes.
Luijckx says all partners believe passionately in the business and they funded it with their personal savings. "Our only external funding to date has been through Beehive, which is a debt crowdfunding platform," she says.
Luijckx says as Fruitful Day continues to grow, she looks for opportunities that align with her vision of promoting healthy choices.
"For instance, we launched a Holy Month of 'Ramadan' gifting range, which is a modern healthy take on your traditional chocolates and desserts. When we designed our fruit platters, we wanted to encourage people to give the gift of health without compromising on presentation or taste," she explains.
Discussing her strategy, Luijckx says to build and grow a business, "you need a strong team by your side".
"Two of our managers have been with us since the early days of the business and their dedication to the company and serving our customers have allowed me to focus on working on the business rather than in it. By joining EO Accelerator, it also ensures I have a disciplined approach to working in the important areas of growing the business, namely people, cash, strategy and execution," she adds.
How accelerators help
"Through EO Accelerator, I have been working with both a coach and a mentor who have both given invaluable advice for the business. With my mentor, I have been focusing on digital marketing and exploring how to measure and test different marketing initiatives. With my coach and accountability group, it's been anything from building a great culture in the organisation to making the most of customer feedback to improve the business," she continues.
Luijckx says the UAE's ecosystem is vibrant and full of opportunities, regardless of age, gender and race.
"The UAE startup scene is buzzing. I've been involved in judging a pitch competition for students as young as 12 years and on the other end of the spectrum, my dad became an entrepreneur in Dubai at the age of 60. Recently, the Entrepreneur Organisation organised a Shark Tank-style pitch competition called Falcons Nest in which all of the Falcons were entrepreneurs who have successfully established a business in the UAE and were looking to invest in up-and-coming businesses. Opportunities like this didn't exist a few years ago and I believe we will see even more in the years to come," she says.
"As the startup ecosystem evolves, there are two critical components. The first is access to capital for SMEs. Companies such as Beehive improve the ecosystem massively by supporting the growth of small businesses with their peer-to-peer lending. The other is the easing of legislation when it comes to business set-up to help companies through their early years. The UAE is at the forefront of the world in its vision and desire to foster innovation, for which we are all grateful," Luijckx says.
"However, for that to grow faster and more sustainably from the ground up, future entrepreneurs need to continue to be able to express their ideas and create new businesses at a lower cost with less bureaucracy," she adds.
"Entrepreneurship can be very lonely and at the end of the day, it's a mental game as you need to be at your best for your business to succeed. Make time to connect with people who can help you think through your problems and celebrate your successes with you," she concludes.
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