Kate Save is an accredited dietitian, exercise physiologist, diabetes educator, and CEO and co-founder of Be Fit Food, Australia’s leading ready-made meal provider for scientifically-backed healthy eating. Her core belief is that food is the first medicine and that anyone can achieve optimal health and wellbeing through balanced nutrition and exercise.
Through Be Fit Food, Kate’s goal is to revolutionise Australians’ relationship with food, whilst halting the trajectory of weight-related chronic disease in Australia. Kate holds a double degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and Exercise Science from Deakin University as well as an Advanced Diploma in Diabetes Education and a Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology.
Here’s our chat with Kate.
How did you come to start your business? Was there a particular spark or a significant turning point?
When Be Fit Food began, I was working as a dietitian with bariatric surgeon Dr Geoffrey Draper helping prepare his patients for gastric band surgery for weight loss. Together, we collectively saw over 20,000 patients. At this point in time, patients were put on a diet of shakes pre-surgery. I believed there was a better way for our patients to achieve weight loss through a healthy, dietitian and doctor-structured diet. Be Fit Food was born as the first VLCD (very low-calorie diet) to exist for this purpose.
My personal spark to really get my business going came purely through my work as a dietitian. I saw thousands of patients failing to follow meal programs and ending up needing weight loss surgery as they did not believe that they could lose weight on their own. I wanted to give them the tools to succeed without needing surgery and also wanted to see them have long term success with maintaining their weight after surgery using real food as opposed to shakes and bars.
When you initially started your business, what hurdles did you face?
When Be Fit Food was born our biggest hurdle was that the weight loss industry had never seen a real VLCD. There was an overall fear of rapid weight loss because of the bad reputation that had been borne through fad diets. Although Be Fit Food was a nutritionally developed meal plan created by an educated dietitian and doctor, the masses believed the media – they believed they couldn’t lose weight rapidly in a safe way and they thought it would result in immediate weight gain as soon as they went off the diet. Both of these beliefs were proven untrue with clinical studies, but the general public were not aware of this. In fact, key studies show that regardless if you lose weight slowly, moderately or rapidly over a period of 6 months, in 2 years’ time only those who lost the weight rapidly kept it off. Those who lost it slowly or moderately regained a higher percentage of the weight they lost and failed to maintain the health benefits of the weight loss.
Another big hurdle was going against the big players! The meal plans that were on the market at the time were following the health guidelines established in 1994. The Be Fit Food diet followed new science, which had been proven to be more effective and sustainable for long term weight management. The general public still understand and believe the old guidelines, therefore there is a continual challenge to re-educate the consumer.
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
One of the biggest benefits that was necessary to overcome these hurdles was partnering with Dr Geoff Draper, who was a well-known bariatric surgeon with clinical backing in the field of weight loss. Dr Draper brought the product the credibility and reputation that it needed and assisted in sharing the message that using Be Fit Food is a great way to lose weight.
The second huge boost that helped overcome any hurdles was going on Shark Tank and getting the support of hundreds of thousands of Australians who were watching. As soon as the public knew that the Be Fit Food product was supported by entrepreneurs and experts, it gained the credibility the consumer needed to trust that I was on the right path. Key stats that came out of the television appearance were:
- The business grew 1500% overnight
- Be Fit Food went from a team of 5 to 63 in 4 weeks
- Be Fit Food went from doing 1,000 to 30,000 meals per week
- Be Fit Food was delivering nation-wide within the next 6 months
What makes your business unique?
- Doctor and dietitian designed
- Scientifically formulated
- Real food meal programs for health improvement / enhancement / optimisation
- No shakes
- No added sugars, artificial sweeteners, colours or flavours
- Low sodium
- High protein, low carb breakdown backed by dietitians and doctors
- Minimum of 4-12 vegetables per meal
What is a piece of advice you wish you had been told before starting your entrepreneurial journey?
I wish someone had told me that no one will have all of the answers. I walked in thinking someone will know how to do what I want to do and therefore guide me, but in actual fact, nobody does! You will need to do a lot of the research yourself, and many of the things you do will be the first time they are done. Other people’s experiences may help shape your direction, but they will never be the entire solution you’re looking for.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
Global domination! We have the Trademark for the USA, the UK, China and Australia. Our vision is to improve the health of Australians first, followed by the world.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I love being involved in every aspect of the business and getting my hands dirty! It’s also wonderful to be on a path where you continually meet new people. I also love to run with my own ideas 100% of the time, which is something I couldn’t do if I worked for someone else. As an entrepreneur, I have the opportunity to try everything I want to try… I don’t always know what’s going to work, but over time I’ve found that the least likely ideas end up being the most successful.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Back yourself
- Never give up
- Eternal optimism
What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
Not listening to my gut!
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
The best decision I ever made was to hire a team of people that are better than me and have knowledge in areas I don’t. I love being surrounded by people who are experts in their field rather than generalists.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
It took me a while to answer this one. I need to learn and understand at least 50% of the skill in order to outsource it effectively. I always learn before I outsource.
Who are the people around you that allow you to thrive and give support?
My PA is very important to me. She frees up my time to nurture both my business and my family. I was always stuck in the day-to-day necessities and essentials with only the occasional moment to come up for air. Once I had a PA, she freed up my calendar and gave me the extra time and opportunity to focus on the most important parts of my life: my family and my business.
What keeps you going in difficult times?
The biggest thing that keeps me going when things are tough is remembering exactly why I started this business. All difficult moments don’t matter at all when I get to witness the positive improvements and changes in our customers. In fact, they are worth it. This extends so much further than me as well. I get an immense sense of satisfaction when I see my team members achieve something extra. I love when they get to have the same sense of fulfillment that I have when they help a person eat themselves into a healthier lifestyle. Myself and my whole team believe in our mission, and that definitely keeps us all going.
What keeps you up at night?
Probably when I feel I may not have the right people in my team. Individuals can’t do everything. We all have to work together to achieve great things, and to accomplish that, I need a team that works well together.
Do you have a business app you can’t live without?
This one took a little bit of thought, but if anything, the Shopify Dashboard so I can run my business, and LinkedIn of course. I like seeing who’s out there, what they’re doing and how we can connect for joint success.
Do you have any tips for work life balance?
A few years ago, Janine Allis of Boost Juice shared an analogy with me that really resonated. She said that life is like a pendulum – it swings from one side to the other and never stays very long in the middle. I have always taken that with me. I just accept that some days are work focused and some days will be family focused. Balance doesn’t really exist unless you want to be mediocre at everything!
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Definitely Amazon. Jeff Bezos dreamt that we would run out of space on the earth. He looked at all the other planets and realized that most only have double the area of the earth, so he decided we should build something in the solar space that was unlimited. I loved that. That was the moment I stopped thinking all my ideas were crazy.