She stayed home and was locked in her hotel room with nowhere to go. Madelene Eng, 28, then a manager for partnerships and collaborations with a job in New York City, had just flown back and was feeling restless.
That was in March 2020. She had returned because Covid-19 was getting serious and her father had pressured her to come to Singapore.
While lounging in her hotel room, Madelene suddenly longed for some snacks to eat, so she went online to search. To their dismay, options were limited as most stores only sell their individual brands.
Then an idea occurred to her – why not start a business selling boxes of various snacks to people who, like her, are “stuck”?
The founder and CEO of the snack box subscription service MUNCHEES has never looked back since then. She quit her job in the Big Apple to take the less traveled route.
Upon returning from New York, Madelene stumbled upon the idea of subscribing to a snack box / Image source: Vulcan Post
A profitable business in less than 12 months
Madelene officially launched her business last June. In just 12 months, their business has reached profitability and has since served large clients such as DBS, Mediacorp, GovTech and the Department of Education.
She sells snacks from home and snacks to remote teams on a subscription basis. The snacks change every month so customers don't get bored with the same snacks.
A personal snack box starts at S $ 28.50 and consists of 12 different snacks and can contain childhood favorites such as Pola Snacks, Hello Panda and Bee Bee Cracker.
There are 12 snacks per personal snack box / Image credit: Vulcan Post
MUNCHEES also sells remote team snacks for companies that want to deliver them to teammates to improve work morale as people mostly work from home during this time.
It offers office box snacks for businesses that also need to replenish their office supplies, for workers who need to clock in.
“Given the many hours people spend at work every day, I believe that a positive work environment and corporate culture are more important than ever today. As they say, employees are a company's greatest asset, ”said Madelene.
MUNCHEES customers and hospital staff at a Parkway hospital / Image source: MUNCHEES
“In order for your employees to be able to do their best, they have to feel their best – and what better way to achieve that with healthy snacks to keep you energized during the working day? Offering a subscription model makes this possible in the most hassle-free and seamless way, ”she said.
Businesses also recognize this importance, as Madelene said the bulk of MUNCHEES orders come from companies that send personal boxes to their teams and employees at home.
Healthy options the natural choice
When she started the company, Madelene decided that instead of offering snacks of all kinds, she would offer wellness snacks so that customers could feel safe eating them with no health risk concerns.
The snack boxes are "healthier" as they do not contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners and trans fats, said the CEO of MUNCHEES.
The boxes are also curated to accommodate a variety of snacks. There are healthier snacks that are organic, natural, and allergen-free.
Healthier Snack Options That Are Organic and All Natural / Image Credit: MUNCHEES, Vulcan Post
Customers don't choose the snacks that go in the boxes. “Part of the value and excitement of receiving a MUNCHEES box in person or from the office is that it's always a surprise and delight, and allows recipients to discover new snacks,” she explained.
MUNCHEES delivers to all areas of Singapore and uses third party courier services to ship the orders. It also sends them to overseas customers.
While curating her snack boxes, Madelene also wanted to support local businesses going through the pandemic and included local Singapore snack brands such as Amazin ’Grace, Tong Garden and Natureally.
The concept was well received by the Singaporeans, and Madelene said the business is currently showing positive cash flow.
MUNCHEES delivers to its customers in all parts of Singapore / Image source: MUNCHEES, Vulcan Post
One of the most stressful moments while running the company was when a bulk order suddenly came in during the third month of business: a bulk order of 450 snack boxes for Ubisoft Singapore. Madelene had to desperately seek all the help she could get to deliver the order to the customer. She had to bring in part-time workers and friends to deal with the sudden surge.
Although Madelene is currently running the business all by herself, she is ready to run the ship with more people on deck.
"Growth plans will really depend on the current pandemic situation, but the first step will definitely be building a team – which I am actively doing now," she shared.
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Featured Image Source: MUNCHEES, Vulcan Post