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Sat 6 Oct 2018 10:30 AM

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Entrepreneur of the Week: Hala Barghout of Colour My Plate

The young entrepreneur says she plans on expanding Colour My Plate beyond the Middle East and into the global market

Entrepreneur of the Week: Hala Barghout of Colour My Plate

She wants to add colour to people’s plates around the world by introducing nutritious fruit and vegetable-based meals into fast-paced lifestyles, and she is starting with Dubai. Primarily a nutritionist, Hala Barghout launched the catering concept in 2016 with the help of a chef friend and investor, swiftly expanding into meal plans and retail. Speaking to Arabian Business, she shares her plans for the future.

How did the idea of Colour My Plate come to you? How would you describe the business?

It’s simple: I love nourishing my body with good food, and educating others on doing the same. The thought of eating the rainbow (a term referring to a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables) makes me happy. I wanted to introduce that to others as well, because the end result is feeling good, looking good and living long. Colour My Plate is basically a healthy catering business that provides clean, nourishing and fresh food to individuals looking to lead a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Why does the market here need a concept such as Colour My Plate?

Dubai is a fast-paced city, where many people struggle to make time to cook. So they tend to rely on eating out, where options are not very healthy. Our concept tackles an existing issue in the market. You can never have enough concepts that help people eat right on a daily basis.

How does it differ from existing concepts that are already available in the market?

Every meal plan delivery company is different, and Dubai needs that. Having said that, the good thing about us is that we don’t follow or focus on one particular dietary regime. We supply healthy, fresh and wholesome food from diverse, global cuisines. Some of our offerings include vegan and paleo options, for example. We also use high quality and premium ingredients. Most importantly, we make everything from scratch.

What are some of the challenges of running a catering concept in the UAE?

There’s a lot of competition in the UAE market, so you have to make sure you always stand out and are different. We do that by maintaining innovation and coming up with new ideas. Another vital factor is listening to what the clients want and are looking for. It’s also about staying relevant and following trends, but without losing our identity.

What are your expansion plans for the business?

My plan is expand to other countries and colour people’s plates outside the UAE. Eventually, I would like to open a restaurant that offers a variety of healthy and colorful meals.

Every entrepreneur leads a hard life at the beginning.  no pain, no gain applies to every individual who is starting a business

Where did the funding come from and how difficult was it to attract and gather it?

At first, I bootstrapped the business and started with zero funding. One day in 2016, I decided to ask a friend of mine – he happens to be a chef – to prepare a few meals for me using my recipes. Within a week, I had created my own menu. I then started selling my meals in retail spaces. At first it was only two outlets, then it started growing and two turned into three and then into five and so on. Later, when I wanted to expand into the meal plan business, I met my partner, who helped provide Colour My Plate with funding and kitchen space.

Was there ever a time when you felt that the concept was failing or that you wanted to give up?

Oh yes – there were many times. But I keep reminding myself that I have a purpose and I have a plan. I’m always thinking of the future of the business and of my future. Every entrepreneur leads a hard life at the beginning. The saying “no pain, no gain” applies to every individual who is starting a business.

If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently with Colour My Plate?

This year was a huge learning curve for me. Coming from a medical background (I’m a nutritionist) and knowing little about hospitality brought challenges to the table. I’m very grateful that I got to learn so much on my own. I’ve made mistakes only to learn from then. Now, I know that I could have done a lot of things differently, but I know that from the experience I’ve gained. If I had to go back, I would probably do it the same all over again.

What is the company’s business model?  Where does the revenue come from?

The revenue comes mainly from the meal plan subscriptions, but we are also on delivery platforms, cover catering events and sell delicious treats on our website.

How is the company doing revenue-wise?

We’re doing great, so far. The summer months are slow, but we are able to make up for them during winter months and busy seasons.

What is your future vision for the concept? Where do you wish for it to become?

I see Colour My Plate doubling its client base and expanding across the Middle East – maybe even beyond.