Entrepreneurship graduate, Lyndon Galea, has started a not-for-profit business to help feed hungry school aged kids. He shares his career journey.
Tell me about your business Eat Up
Eat Up is a not-for-profit that feeds hungry kids. Every day, many Australian kids go to school without lunch. They go hungry, lose focus and fall behind. Not really fair is it? Eat Up is all about replacing hungry tummies with hungry minds. And thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers we’re doing just that.
We source free food from food waste charities to use in our lunches - bread, butter, spreads, cheese, fruit and recess items. Apprentice chefs and TAFE hospitality students then voluntarily prepare sandwiches before OzHarvest, a national food charity with a fleet of 29 refrigerated vans, delivers them directly to the schools pro bono. Teachers at the schools then provide the lunches to the hungry kids.
How did you come up with the business idea?
I read an article in my hometown newspaper, the Shepparton News, that profiled local school kids who were regularly going without lunch. I was totally shocked and felt compelled to try and help.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Scale. We want to support hungry kids right around Australia. It’s become our driving goal and what we will ultimately measure the success and impact of our model upon. We know it is a huge target to aim for but we’re putting pressure on ourselves to achieve it. We’re fortunate that each of the partners we collaborate with, Foodbank, TAFE colleges and OzHarvest, are nationally located, so foreseeably this growth should not be as difficult as it may first sound, but that’s certainly not saying it will be easy! We will grow by continually replicating our model with local partners in more and more regions, and then more and more states.
What did you learn from your earlier start up?
My first start up, X Magazine, was launched in 2007, again in my hometown of Shepparton. X was a series of magazines personalised to different country towns by the contributions of young locals. We grew from Shep, to Albury Wodonga, to Geelong and the Surf Coast and then Bendigo. I learnt a great deal from the experiences of growing X Magazine – I worked with local teams in each area, which I also do with Eat Up now. I pitched to corporates for their support, which is again coming for Eat Up. But most valuable to me now is the incredible network of creative young people that I’m still lucky enough to call friends. Many of them have contributed their talent to help grow Eat Up - whether it be writing, photography, design, video, social networking or help making sandwiches - they can do it all and I couldn’t be more grateful to have their help!
And If I’m being brutally honest with myself, X taught me how much harder I’ve got to work if I want to lead a start-up. Now years removed, I can recognise that while I may have thought I was working hard at the time, I wasn’t doing enough.
Tell me about how you ended up studying the Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) at RMIT
I started studying entrepreneurship at RMIT in 2006 and graduated in July 2016 - so as you can see it has been a winding road! I studied my first year before dropping out to start X Magazine in 2007. In hindsight I can see that this was clearly a mistake – not starting X that is, but I could have done it while continuing my studies. At the time I was just so restless and impatient to start something and I think after going straight from year 12 into Uni I was aching for a break from structured learning.
I re-enrolled for Semester 2, 2014. Eat Up had already started and the lessons from X made it clear how much more I still needed to learn. Deep down I had always envisioned coming back to finish at some stage, but the seven year gap was definitely longer than I’d recommend!
I had always been passionate about studying Entrepreneurship at RMIT and never really considered any other program or uni. I’ve always been fascinated by start-up business and wanted desperately to grow something of my own, and to work, contribute and live a life I was most passionate about. The program has certainly encouraged and equipped me for that. It’s a great atmosphere to be a part of, everyone has bold plans for the future which results in an environment of high energy and expectation.
What are your next steps?
Well I’ve just graduated so I’m excited about that! I now have the opportunity to dedicate 100% of my time toward growing Eat Up. I’ve never been more connected to a goal as I am with seeing hungry kids fed.
Any other comments?
If anyone would like to help hungry kids and support Eat Up let me know! We regularly hold big volunteer sandwich making session in Melbourne, which are great fun and provide lunches for kids who would otherwise go without.
Also, I know RMIT is full of talented students with a passion for marketing, logistics, journalism, documentary, finance, design, I mean there is so many skills we could use to grow Eat Up so let us know what you do and how you’d like to help.
Big brands or businesses who happen to read this (RMIT wink wink) we’d love to work with you to reach our goal of feeding hungry kids even faster. Get at us and let’s work together!
Story: Rita Truong