Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast


The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 37: Nutritious, delicious & ambitious, with Louise Fisher of Lunchfox

Louise Fisher

Founder of Lunchfox

August 9, 2022
Making school lunches. Do you love it or loathe it? It’s often a job that gets met with full enthusiasm in the beginning of the week and then tapers out just towards the end.Former teacher Louise Fisher is the founder of Lunchbox, a very clever app connecting local cafes with schools to deliver school lunches for busy families.

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Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Louise Fisher

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Episode 37 Transcript

00:04:03:14 - 00:04:36:02

Carrie Kwan

Making school lunches. Do you love it or loathe it? In my house it's a job that gets met with full enthusiasm in the beginning of the week and then tapers out just towards the end, which is exactly the genius behind today's guest’s business. Former teacher Louise Fisher is the founder of Lunchbox. It's a very clever app that connects local cafes with schools to deliver school lunches for busy families.

Louise Fisher joins us on Mumbition today to share some of her business journey. Louise Fisher, welcome to Mumbition.

00:04:36:05 - 00:04:37:19

Louise Fisher

Thank you. How are you?

00:04:38:01 - 00:04:49:00

Lucy Kippist
Very well, thank you. Now, we're passionate about telling and sharing women's stories. Louise Fisher, I do know your story, but can you please tell everyone yours?

00:04:49:01 - 00:05:31:17

Louise Fisher

Well, like you said in the intro, I'm a former primary school teacher, originally from England. So back in 2010, my husband and I relocated to Singapore for a couple of years, had a couple of years of being newlyweds and double income, no kids' kind of thing, and did a lot of traveling. Then we got relocated down to Melbourne, which was only ever going to be for a couple of years.

But ten years later we've got two children, our own business and Australian citizenship. So being the founder of a health tech start-up was never kind of on the cards for me, so it's funny how life kind of takes a turn without you expecting. But yeah, that's the journey that's kind of led me here today.

00:05:33:00 - 00:06:03:12

Carrie Kwan
It's a sneaky one, that whole small business ownership journey. I can definitely relate to, “that is not me, I'm happy to be employed.” And then you get this idea, this little idea that never switches off and consumes you and then you just feel compelled to take action on it, which I think is probably one of the best ways to start a business, when you can't stop thinking about it and when you know you have to get into it, get involved, solve that problem.

00:06:04:04 - 00:06:05:14

Louise Fisher

Yeah, absolutely agree!

00:06:06:00 - 00:06:28:21

Lucy Kippist
And we’re glad that you have! Speaking of ideas, and obviously Carrie Kwan's just said that planting of the seed is so important, wherever and whenever it comes, in your business.

Like Lunchbox as an app is such a brilliant concept for really time challenged parents. How did you come up with that idea? Was it when your children started school, or had it been forming before that?

00:06:29:05 - 00:08:27:13

Louise Fisher

There is a very definite kind of story behind it. So, my second daughter had just been born, she was three months old. My eldest was four and a half. Like you say, she was just about to start school. We were just starting to think about which school to choose. My husband decided to quit his job, which didn't seem risky at all at the time.

Looking back on it now, it was crazy risk! But he quit his job and we put our house on Airbnb and just decided to go on a big road trip and spend some family time. I was obviously on maternity leave, so we bundled the kids in the car and we spent a couple of months driving up the east coast of Australia. So we were on the road a lot and eating out a lot and looking for all those kinds of grab and go foods and snacks for the children. We were just really struck by how consistently poor those offerings were.

You know, children's food is just generally not that great and it really kind of stood out to us. I remember there was one day in particular we were stopped at a small kind of petrol station to fill up with gas and this petrol station was selling these tiny little bento boxes for children. They had a little sandwich and there was a bit of hummus, some carrot sticks, and some raisins and it was so simple and so perfect for what we needed.

It just really struck a little spark of inspiration for us. And like you said, Carrie Kwan, we couldn't let that spark go. All we could kind of talk about for the rest of the holiday was “why is that kind of thing not more readily available for children?” And our eldest was about to start school, and we just kind of started talking about if that was available for school lunches, then that would be a really exciting concept.

So we did just decide to dive in with my husband being on a career break and I was on maternity leave, it was the perfect time to just kind of make that leap and follow that idea.

00:08:28:06 - 00:08:36:21

Carrie Kwan

So obviously you have a teaching background. Had your husband had any experience in running a business before this?

00:08:37:10 - 00:09:03:15

Louise Fisher

No, he hadn't, but he's in an I.T. Business management role. So he brought some really key skills to the table as well. So with my teaching background and his background in I.T, he was able to approach a couple of developers to help us build the app so yes, we've come at it with some really important skills.

We've kind of founded this together and it's worked really well.

00:09:05:18 - 00:09:29:23

Lucy Kippist

I heard a very interesting interpretation recently about how everyone's looking at options to digitize and bring in a sort of e-commerce enablement. They said every company now is a technology company so it's quite interesting. Hold on to that resource, he sounds like a keeper!

00:09:30:10 - 00:09:33:01

Louise Fisher

Yeah, I’ll keep hold of him, I think!

00:09:35:06 - 00:09:40:09

Carrie Kwan

I would love to hear what you love about your business right now then?

00:09:41:05 - 00:10:54:03

Louise Fisher

Yeah, we're relatively new still. We've been developing the app probably for a year or so, but it was only back in April that we actually launched with our first school. So for us, that's been absolutely so rewarding to see photographs of children excitedly grabbing their lunchbox bag and eating the food that's inside. We're based down in Melbourne, but the school that we signed with is up in New South Wales.

I travelled up there for that launch, and I got to see the cafe owner preparing all the lunches and the children eating all the lunches and that was amazing for me! So that side of it is really wonderful. But I think the thing even more so than that I'm really loving at the moment is just this potential that I feel like we have.

I feel like I can almost feel it bubbling under the surface that this could be something really big. I think particularly now, we're opening up a whole new market and a whole new revenue stream for cafe owners. I think our potential to be a real economy booster as well is something that I'm finding just so motivating and yet really loving that aspect of it at the moment.

00:10:54:19 -00:11:26:16

Lucy Kippist

Louise Fisher, it's so exciting to hear how the last few months have unfolded for you. I remember speaking with you closer to the beginning of the year at a member meetup when your New South Wales school had kicked in. I think the stage that you're describing is a common one for a lot of our community in that most of us are between that sort of zero to five years of creating a business.

So I'm just wondering, in light of all of that, how would you describe your biggest challenge at the moment in terms of business?

00:11:26:16 - 00:12:30:03

Louise Fisher

For us, it's getting in front of the decision makers in the school. Schools are notoriously difficult places to market to. They're very busy. The people are very busy and they're kind of ingrained in their routine. So any new service is trying to break into that routine needs to be something that's really effortless or easy.

So that's definitely been a big challenge for us. We're also kind of coming at this as a supportive thing for parents. I don't really like going in with that big salesy mind, I'd much rather it be something that just kind of grows a bit organically. So what we're finding is that parents are being a real driving force in getting Lunchbox into schools.

I’m speaking to quite a few schools in Melbourne at the moment and they've all been achieved by parents who have reached out, loved the idea and said, “leave it with me, I'll go to the principal.” So yes, that's our biggest challenge. But we're finding a bit of a way around it thanks to all the parents!

00:12:30:18 - 00:12:38:12

Lucy Kippist
So good for you, solving such a big, you know, big emotive problem for so many of us. So you just imagine word of mouth being very, very important.

00:12:39:03 - 00:12:40:01

Louise Fisher

Yeah, yeah.

00:12:40:09 - 00:13:55:19

Carrie Kwan

Us parents, we're an influential lot! I do feel like, when you were talking, I was thinking, yeah, from a stakeholder point of view, you're literally looking at it. Who are those people that can make those connections or influence your ask, which is the school? Then from a school perspective, where actually, we've gone through similar challenges when we look at how to actually find this.

It's not so much a funnel that works for us, but it's how you can actually get in touch and get in front of your customers and which channels are the most effective. If that's yours, being schools, we're actually looking at reaching business owning mums. We're looking at engaging partnerships with those that obviously have products and services that also are useful by mums.

It's really vital to get that key relationship right, once you crack it, it is like this one too many sort of approach, isn't it?

00:13:56:00 - 00:13:58:17

Louise Fisher

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I definitely agree with that.

00:13:59:01 - 00:14:10:20

Lucy Kippist

Now you're a mum to two school aged children I'm wondering what have you found to be the most transferable skills between motherhood and business life?

00:14:10:24 - 00:15:12:21

Louise Fisher

For me without a question, organisation and delegation. I feel as though when you're a parent you have a perpetual to-do list in your head, and so the only way to get through that is to delegate and to prioritise your time. You find yourself doing it without even thinking about it. When you're a parent, in the mornings I'll get the kids fed, I'll get them dressed, I'll have a coffee, I'll make lunch, we'll leave the house and without thinking, you're prioritizing your time.

So for me, that is something that I really try to transfer into my work days for Lunchbox. I always think that there's no one better at managing their time than a working parent because you're constantly working to a deadline as well. If a typical workday is kind of nine to five, if you're the one who's doing the school run, your workday is 9:30 to 2:30, and you still have the same amount of work to get done, you just have to knuckle down and do it.

So for me, definitely being able to organise my time and delegate wherever possible.

00:15:12:21 - 00:15:19:04

Lucy Kippist

I love that! I think you often do it with a bit of military precision.

00:15:20:12 - 00:15:21:09

Louise Fisher


00:15:22:11 - 00:15:44:14

Carrie Kwan

Louise Fisher, we touched before about the importance of word of mouth in a business like yours. I know that when you joined Mums & Co, we talked a lot about the networking aspect of our community, obviously that's a huge part of what we do. How important is networking to you in building the business at the moment? What are some of the ways that you do that digitally?

00:15:45:02 - 00:17:09:04

Louise Fisher

Networking has been so important and I never thought I'd say it, but I actually have grown to love networking. This has been a real significant career change for me, so it was quite daunting at first, the thought of having to network with other business owners. But I don't think I've ever been to a networking event where I haven't made some kind of new connection or met someone who has put me in touch with someone else or made a great suggestion.

Networking has been so, so useful, like you say being a Mums & Co member, some of the networking things you guys offer have just been really, really helpful. It's been the kind of thing where a few days later, someone else who was on the call has reached out and we've connected over LinkedIn. I'm actually finding LinkedIn to be a really great way of networking and making connections with other kind of kindred spirits and like-minded people.

But I'm also a member of another local business network event and I've done online pre accelerator courses. Even things like Slack, having those kinds of conversational channels, I think that would be one of my biggest pieces of advice to anyone starting out is just go to any networking thing you can get your hands on because you’ll never regret it, it's always, always going to end up being worthwhile.

00:17:09:21 - 00:17:30:04

Lucy Kippist

So true! It's and it's great to hear that the things that you've attended here at Mums & Co could have gone on in that relationship has continued as well because I think a key part of networking that a lot of people don't really talk about is the importance of, yes, going to the event, but then it's what you do in terms of the follow up that really makes a difference to the outcome.

00:17:30:18 - 00:18:03:06

Louise Fisher

Yeah! When you're new to this as well, I've found the practice your pitch session really kind of motivating and also, there’s something really good about seeing other people in a similar stage to you and kind of admitting that maybe those bits that they find hard. The pitching side of things is challenging and hearing other people say, “oh God, I hate this, I need to practice this” or “how was that? Did I do OK?” Just that honesty and that kind of support and communication with other people in exactly the same boat as you. It's worth its weight in gold, it really is.

00:18:03:24 - 00:19:30:03

Lucy Kippist
That's great to hear! It's a little bit like networking is a bit of a misunderstood child, I think. It's a little bit like sales or business development. They're both such vital skills and vital capabilities, especially for the small business owner, it's not like we've got heaps of staff members representing our business. It is, it is me.

If you're a sole trader or if you're just starting to grow, you're making your first hire, your first team member, it's so vital. Definitely put your best foot forward network. And that's not networking for just business, it's networking for expert guidance or finding mentors and champions, finding people like yourself that might be one step ahead of the curve that you can learn from or finding that new staff member. When it's your first hire because you've already heard about it and we do love recognising community.

It's in our name. It's the CO, it's the men, the women, the family partners, friends, clients, in your circle. So how do they support you, and how does it all work with those important co members?

00:19:30:16 - 00:21:15:12

Louise Fisher

All of our family overseas and they're probably our biggest, biggest fans, they're all international and cheering us on. Even though they're so far away, just having their words of encouragement and like I say, my husband and I never realized it, but we're risk takers, he quits his job, and I did quite a big career change.

Just having their support and knowing that their support is always there has been fantastic. Doing this with my husband has been a real journey in itself, definitely not for the faint hearted, it's not always been smooth sailing. But I love that we're in this together and I love that the kids get to see us doing something other than just being mum and dad.

It's really good for them to see us having grown up conversations about beta testing and sales things and investment opportunities and that kind of thing, I love that they’re seeing that. But like you say, none of that would happen without our CO and we've got some really great friends that kind of live down the road.

I agree with the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I think finding your village is so important and we have a few really good friends that will help us with the school run or they'll notice that we've been really busy and say, “we'll babysit for you,” and that kind of thing.

I think it's just so important, finding those people that can help you on your way and then like I said earlier as well, a big part of Lunchbox and our Lunchbox co has to be those parents that are out there championing it for us and making the first step and helping us on our way because I don't think we'd be where we are now without those kind of passionate parents helping us out.

00:21:15:21 - 00:21:44:17

Carrie Kwan

So lovely! Sounds like you've got a wonderful system of support there. I loved the comment you made there about working with the husband and the children being able to observe that dynamic in your relationship too, that's very special. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Our last question for you today, Louise Fisher, is as you know, Mums & Co are big champions of women supporting women, so we're wondering who are the Mumbitious, the business owning mothers in your network that you'd like to say hello to today?

00:21:45:11 - 00:23:28:12

Louise Fisher

First and foremost, has to be another Carrie Kwan, actually our graphic designer Carrie Kwan, and kind of creative director, if you like, of Lunchbox. She has just been absolutely pivotal in turning what was our idea into an actual brand. She's studying twice a week and she has a child at school and a younger child. So she'll work on Lunchbox while her youngest is napping and asleep.

She always kind of comes at everything with such a calm, can do attitude. So she's just been instrumental and definitely deserves a shout out. I have another really close friend as well, who set up her own child sleep consultancy business and has recently done a swap with her husband where she's come back to work after seven years of being on mat leave, landed a dream role in a really great company. Even the recruiter said this is a real win for women returning to the workforce. It’s so great seeing your friends just absolutely getting the kind of recognition and things that they deserve.

I think probably the final person for me has to be my mum. She was really inspirational to me; she's always been a working mum. She's a single mum and she's always been a fun mum as well. She's definitely one of those people that has blended ambition and parenthood just so seamlessly and even as a grandma now she's landed a really great contracting role with a big global company. I feel as though she's getting more success the older, she gets!

There's lots of successful women around me, which I think has been really, really inspirational and pivotal in me getting to where I am now.

00:23:28:23 - 00:23:59:24

Lucy Kippist
Beautiful! Thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition today. If you'd like to hear more about Lunchbox, you can find both on Instagram and LinkedIn. If you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandcol.com.au

What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

00:24:01:03 - 00:24:38:19

Louise Fisher

There's two ways that I could answer this and I know that I should go down the healthy, nutritious, well-balanced road, but I'm not going to because when I was a child, my favourite thing to have for lunch was a cheese and crisps sandwich with salad cream. I don't know if you know what salad cream is in Australia. I don't know if you have any English listeners, if you do they'll probably be salivating at the thought. Very unhealthy, white bread, crisps, cheese. Even as an adult now and I think about it, if I've got a real craving for something a bit naughty, that's what I’ll go for - a cheese and crisp sandwich!