Boxgreen Founders Quit Banking To Make Snacking A Healthy Habit

Andrew Lim, 35, and Walter Oh, 33, first met when they both worked at DBS Bank. They had started out as managing partners, and eventually became corporate bankers.

While there, they often worked long hours until late in the office. They often skipped meals and satisfied their hunger with snacks most of the time.

“We often had to rely on vending machines selling unhealthy snacks to feed us. We played with the concept of a service that would regularly provide healthy snacks to people to make it convenient and easier to eat healthier, ”said Andrew, who is now the co-founder of Boxgreen.

This gap for convenient access to healthy snacks prompted them to start a healthy snack subscription service in Singapore.

From buying snacks in a supermarket to making their own

They injected an initial capital of less than S $ 40,000 to launch Boxgreen as a side business in January 2014.

According to the co-founders, Boxgreen’s mission is to make snacking fun, easy and nutritious.

We want to make healthier snacks truly tasty and effortless by offering a range of snacks with different ingredients and textures to keep things interesting.

We also keep everything individually wrapped for easy grab and go, and also encourage you to snack in moderation.

– Andrew Lim, co-founder of Boxgreen

Andrew and Walter piqued the interest of their coworkers, and many loved the idea of ​​a healthy snack box, so they started pre-ordering with them.

greenbox healthy snacks
The first iteration of a Greenbox / Image credit: Greenbox

The duo went to the supermarket to find healthy snacks and packed them in boxes in their living room. The very first box was mailed in May 2014.

“We donated the first 100 boxes online and we personally hand-delivered them to understand the customer base and market needs,” Andrew told Vulcan Post.

However, they soon realized that these snack boxes provided no added value as customers could buy them themselves. They also began to receive requests for specific types of snacks such as low sodium or sodium free snacks.

It was then that they knew they had to innovate and personalize their own snacks.

They built their own kitchen to experiment and worked with an in-house nutritionist to make sure any snacks they make are healthy.

In a separate interview with The Straits Times, Andrew pointed out that they experiment a lot. They don’t waste too much time on research and development and choose to fail quickly.

If a particular product doesn’t work, they just scrap it and offer a different one.

boxgreen healthy snacks
Image Credit: Boxgreen

Today, Boxgreen offers up to 40 varieties of snacks, including interesting flavors like Cheng Tng Almond Blend, Banana Pecan Crumble, Salted Egg Quinoa Bar, and Burrito Mix. spicy mexican.

Go beyond subscription boxes

Boxgreen eventually “grew up big enough” to decide to quit his job in May 2015 to run the business full time.

They started to focus on e-commerce because they found it to be the most profitable way to grow the business.

It took a while for Boxgreen to gain traction, although such concepts were not very common at the time, Andrew said.

Fortunately, word of mouth has helped market their business.

When customers had their boxes of snacks delivered to their desks, it piqued the interest of their colleagues and office managers, and they began to receive more and more requests.

A few years ago, they started to introduce the BYOB (build-your-own-box) feature so that customers could fill their box with their favorites.

“We have found that Singaporeans like to know what they are paying, unlike many surprise subscription boxes that exist in the United States,” Andrew explained.

boxgreen vending machine
Image Credit: Boxgreen

To make healthy snacking even more accessible, Boxgreen also started exploring vending machines in 2017 as an additional channel.

Instead of relying on another vending machine company and just being another supplier, we thought it would be better to own and brand our vending machines in order to have full control over the contents of the vending machines as well. than on the look and feel of the customer experience. .

All of our vending machines are cashless and have digital screens to enhance the experience. We currently have over 50 machines deployed on the island.

– Andrew Lim, co-founder of Boxgreen

In May 2019, Boxgreen raised undisclosed funding from Octava Impact Investment, Angel Central Syndicate and existing investors Expara Ventures as part of its pre-series A.

squeezed fruit juice
Hurry! Juice and Boxgreen Team / Image Credit: Boxgreen

Following the funding, Boxgreen also acquired cold-pressed juice maker Squeezed! Juice to develop more functional snacking and drinking options on the go.

It was then that they also began to introduce cold-pressed juices to their selection of vending machines.

Snack Good, Do Good

In April 2017, Boxgreen was B-corp certified – this means they are using the business as a force for good to create a positive impact in the community.

boxgreen healthy snacks
Image Credit: Boxgreen

Boxgreen donates 2% of its revenue, and a portion of the proceeds from its sales are spent on providing meals to the needy.

Thanks to the company’s “1 box-1 meal” initiative, they donated more than 30,000 meals to the Willing Hearts soup kitchen in 2018.

The company also uses environmentally friendly packaging. All of their boxes and cards are made from recycled materials, and their plastic packaging is recyclable as well.

Additionally, 60% of the company’s spend is spent with independent local suppliers and producers to help reduce the environmental footprint of its supply chain.

In its effort to “create positive social value” throughout its supply chain, Boxgreen also manages its manufacturing and operations internally.

It advocates for fair and inclusive hiring practices and, for its new manufacturing facility in Changi Prison, it has provided training and employment opportunities for ex-offenders.

Commenting on their social impact, Andrew said they will continue to strive to provide more employment and training opportunities for people in vulnerable communities.

With a strong emphasis on creating social impact, it also opened doors to business opportunities for them.

boxgreen healthy snacks
Image Credit: Boxgreen

Also about three years ago, Boxgreen began to move beyond retail snack pack subscription services.

We were actually invited by one of the big supermarket chains to list our products in their store. They wanted to showcase local brands and found our social impact story interesting.

We are currently in about 40 supermarkets in Singapore and we hope to continue to develop this channel further.

– Andrew Lim, co-founder of Boxgreen

They stock pantries for companies like DBS, Twitter

boxgreen healthy snacks
Image Credit: Boxgreen

Asked about their turning point that helped accelerate Boxgreen’s growth, Andrew cited using office pantry channels and bringing their snacks to the workplace.

Some of their pantries they provide include banks like DBS, tech giants like Twitter, and many other medium and large businesses.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Boxgreen has seen a decline in its corporate pantry business as nearly everyone has switched to working from home.

On the flip side, they saw an increase in the need for care packages as many companies found ways to send gift packages to their home teams and customers during this difficult time.

In a 2016 interview, Boxgreen said it has delivered more than 75,000 snack packs to a customer base of more than 2,000 members and has increased its revenue tenfold year over year since launch.

In the same year, Boxgreen also expanded to Malaysia, but has since exited.

“We have closed the Malaysian business to focus our attention on Singapore, and we are looking to expand significantly into the local retail shelves with a view to possibly exporting (when) the opportunity arises,” said Andrew.

Concluding the interview with a business board, Andrew stressed that entrepreneurs should always remember why they are doing what they are doing.

“Money can be a motivator, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that drives you,” he said, adding that it was always good to focus on the very problem you wanted to solve. when you started.

Featured Image Credit: Boxgreen

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Jothi Venkat

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