This East Vancouver meal kit company delivers all the ingredients for a homemade dinner

30 Under 30 2018: Fresh Prep delivers all the ingredients for a homemade dinner

Credit: Lindsay Siu

Dhruv Sood, 28 + Husein Rahemtulla, 27

Co-founders and co-owners

Life Story: Husein Rahemtulla and Dhruv Sood have been friends since they met in Grade 6 at Buckingham Elementary School in Burnaby. While Rahemtulla had lived in the area all his life, Sood’s family had just moved there from Bangalore, India, where his father was a scientist working on flight dynamics for the Indian Space Research Organization and his mother was a translator.

After the two graduated from Burnaby Central High School in 2008, they both went to McGill University to study business. Living in residence and yearning for a home-cooked meal, they made red Thai curry but had to buy too much of some ingredients and forgo others—which would provide the germ of a business idea down the road. In 2010, they transferred to UBC, where Rahemtulla obtained a BA in philosophy in 2012 and Sood a BComm with a double concentration in finance and logistics in 2013.

Right after graduation, Rahemtulla, who had been playing poker professionally since 2011, took over the management of his family’s hotels on Vancouver Island while his father was being treated for cancer, which reignited his interest in business. In spring 2014 he met Sood, who was working as a research assistant for financial planning firm Raymond James Ltd. in Vancouver, for sushi. Bouncing around ideas, they remembered the Thai curry and discussed creating a company that would provide the exact ingredients needed to make a single meal. The following January, they launched Fresh Prep.

The Bottom Line: Starting small with just Rahemtulla, Sood and their childhood friend Becky Switzer (now Brauer), by February the East Vancouver–based company had grown to 102 employees and 35 contract workers serving more than 7,000 customers from Squamish to Abbotsford, with plans to expand across Canada. Revenue was $3 million in 2017 and is projected to hit $12 million this year. To reduce packaging waste, Fresh Prep delivers meals in reusable cooler bags that it retrieves when delivering the next order.

Dhruv Sood

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Focus on accuracy over precision. The idea is to never lose sight of accuracy and to prioritize it above trying to get more precise.

Your favourite TV show is…
Seinfeld. Like everyone, I like Game of Thrones, but I feel like Seinfeld can stand the test of time.

Who is your role model or mentor?
I find inspiration from everyone. My dad has a laid-back, “everything will work out” attitude. My mom’s got her persistence and patience. From business, I like Elon Musk—what is most inspiring is that he carves his own path rather than going with conventional methods.

What’s your biggest regret?
I found out before starting Fresh Prep that I really like building things. I’d never done that before, so a bit of a regret is not exploring that when I was going through school. If I had, I maybe would have put more effort into doing a combined with engineering, or even as a hobby, [and] get into manufacturing large machinery or industrial building design.

A little-known fact about you is…
I have this eye issue, like a leaky tear duct or something. The optician said I forget to blink, so water collects because my eyes dry out, and eventually I get a teardrop. So you could be talking to me, and midsentence I’d just tear up.

Husein Rahemtulla

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Time is our most precious resource.

Your favourite book, album, song, movie or TV show is…
One that I recommend or give as gifts a lot is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It has lessons about being disciplined and focusing on what matters. He spoke a lot on family, a lot on generosity and treating people well.

Who is your role model or mentor?
It would be remiss to say anyone but my dad as one of the bigger influences in my life. It was pretty inspiring to see him battle cancer and overcome that.

What’s your biggest regret?
It feels like regret is something for maybe the deathbed…or if you have a regret it’s something that you should still be able to address. Something I’m working on improving on right now is the amount of time that I’m on my phone or computer.

A little-known fact about you is…
I’m not sure too many people know about my career in professional poker prior to starting Fresh Prep. I don’t have a sense of smell, which is kind of interesting being in the food business.