THEY'RE a couple with the unusual shared 'interest' of having digestive issues, and Luke Lucas and Chrissy Glentis combined to convince Shark Tank's Janine Allis to invest in their specialist food business.
Their business, called Foddies, caters for the growing number of people who have food allergies, aversions and reactions and specifically produces low FODMAP products. FODMAP is an acronym that relates to a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives.
For people like Lucas, this means this type of food can cause discomfort or a reaction after eating like irritable bowel syndrome.
Lucas left his high paying job in the world of finance and Glentis gave up nursing to begin their business together and they now run a café in Melbourne and distribute pre-packaged meals and products such as sauces.
After some convincing, Lucas talked Allis into investing $100,000 for a 40 per cent stake in the business, and then it was time for a real statement Luke got down on one knee and proposed to Chrissy once the deal was done.
Business News Australia spoke with Luke Lucas and Chrissy Glentis about 'hitting every hurdle possible' and the dramatic 'marry me' moment.
You're a couple of foodies with a few dietary issues. Is that what actually brought you together and spawned this business?
Luke: You could say that, and we started the dating process about two and a half years ago. You can probably imagine how it all went. If you know anyone who has food allergies or are intolerant then you know it's a big challenge if you go out and eat with them.
Chrissy: It can be a very, very difficult thing to do especially when two people have this and they are trying to be romantic and impress one another.
"We have pillow talk like 'oh yeah, I ate the wrong thing last night and I spent half an hour in the bathroom'. It's not really the type of thing to bring up, but we bonded over that."
Luke: In this situation, you really need a sense of humour. We almost had a date cancelled because Chrissy had a bit of a flare-up and I said to her 'look it's okay, don't worry I got air freshener and I know how to turn the TV up really loudly, I am experienced at doing this, I know what I am doing'. We got through it eventually and the date went ahead.
And this is what inspired your product range in the café?
Luke: Exactly right, and when we started talking, we worked out it was something that we wanted to do for a while and Chrissy was diagnosed with FODMAP intolerance eight years ago as one of the first people.
Chrissy: I've always had a passion for food but never had any experience in the business place, but Luke had experience in the business place. So, with my passion and Luke's experience and know-how we thought we would make a great team. Two years later and I think we do make a pretty good team and we're doing really well.
Both of you had never worked in hospitality before. Be honest and tells us how big that learning curve was.
Luke: If I said it was huge, I would be lying. It was even bigger than that. We hadn't even worked in a café let alone run a food business. It was quite daunting, actually.
"We pretty much made every decision incorrectly, we did everything wrong and the learning curve was so ridiculous, I can't even describe it."
Chrissy: But we were really fortunate because we were passionate about what we do. Our customers, fans and followers really appreciate the work we were doing so they were really forgiving. Even now, we launched a new donut store new store about five weeks ago and we estimated how many donuts we would need and we sold out pretty much every day.Our customers kept coming back and saying thank you so much for what you're doing and they have been so supportive this whole time. We could have not done it without them with all the mistakes we made at the start.
How many hurdles did you hit on the way?
Luke: How many hurdles are there? Because I reckon did every single one. I have so many bruises and I pretty much decided to just break the hurdle by running right through it.
"Whether you trip and fall on your face, and we fell on our faces one hundred times, the thing is that you have to get back up and try and jump again over the next hurdle even if you know you will fall over again."
Chrissy: Which we did a few times.
What will Janine Allis bring to your business?
Chrissy: So, we're still chatting with Janine. When it comes to an investment you want to make a deal which benefits both parties. We need to organise our structure as she has her expectations. When we finalise everything, she'll be able to take us to the next level.
Are you hoping her experience in food retail will help you get there?
Luke: Yep, she has expertise in the food industry but she has executed on it quite well obviously. She has the retail expertise as well, she understands products, wholesaling to supermarkets which is kind of what we do. We need that help growing from our current level which is enough for the moment to take it to the next level which is where we want to be.
Luke, how long was the big proposal on national television in the planning?
Luke: I knew last year, that I was going to marry her, or I was going to ask her at least, but if she said 'yes' or 'no' I guess I didn't know what was going to happen. But when I knew we were going to be on Shark Tank, I thought 'there is no better time to do this'. And there were two reasons. Number one, the business is such a big part of our lives but it really makes sense to somehow marry Chrissy with the business. Number two, I couldn't pass the opportunity to propose to the woman I love on national TV. I just couldn't miss the opportunity so I took it.
Chrissy, any idea this was going to happen?
No, I had no idea and was completely oblivious. Luke told me later he had to smuggle the ring up in a brief case. But it was all a bit strange because he was wearing a jacket when it
like a 30-degree humid day and he refused to take the jacket off. The ring was in one of the jacket pockets and I was 'why aren't you taking the jacket off? Take your jacket off, it's so hot!'
I should have realised because he kept coming up with new excuses but I really didn't know at the time and I was so shocked when it happened. I said 'what the hell is this? Where did this come from?' So, it was all just overwhelming. We got a deal, and we got engaged on national TV.
Business News Australia
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