Cycling students deliver healthy food business

Students I-Hsuan Chiang, Chris von den Hoff, Carsten Vollebregt and Alanna Ford launch their business Picture: Greg Macvean

Students I-Hsuan Chiang, Chris von den Hoff, Carsten Vollebregt and Alanna Ford launch their business Picture: Greg Macvean

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IN today’s dog-eat-dog business world, they’re used to grabbing lunch on the go – if they have time to eat at all.

But the Capital’s time-pressed office workers are being given the chance to put years of skipped lunches behind them after a group of Edinburgh University students launched thinkfresh – a bicycle delivery service providing healthy food direct to desks.

Alanna Ford, I-Hsuan (pronounced Sana) Chiang, Chris von den Hoff and Carsten Vollebregt have linked up with top local producers to offer a menu featuring cheddar and wild-garlic frittata, ham sandwich with chutney and caulifower salad, and a roasted chicken with mango chutney super-sandwich.

Prepared by staff at the Edinburgh Larder cafe and available to workers in the EH1, 2, 3 and 8 postcode areas, each item will cost £5, with new dishes set to be added over the next few weeks.

The students said they were inspired to set up thinkfresh because the “lunch is for wimps” ethos was more widespread than ever in the city.

Carsten, 23, a masters student in international business at the university who is originally from the Dutch city of The Hague, said: “In Scotland, people don’t seem to take time to have lunch any more. People will just grab a sandwich and eat it while they’re walking – that’s where we saw an opportunity.”

The four students have ambitious plans to expand and are keen to win a bulk contract to maximise their potential.

But with each order delivered by bike, this is one business growth story that won’t take its toll on the planet.

“We’re very conscious of the need for a low carbon footprint,” said marketing director Alanna, 24, who came to Edinburgh from San Fransisco to study for a masters degree in management. “The idea came out of our own experience of working in different offices and having access to a limited selection of high-quality, fresh food.”

I-Hsuan, 24, who studied public health in her native Taiwan, said: “If you don’t have a proper lunch, then you’ll struggle to stay awake and alert thoughout your work day. If you eat a good lunch, you’ll have lots of energy to work.

“The ingredients we use are sourced from local farms. I don’t think the ingredients you get from the supermarket are that good – they’re not fresh. I don’t think the quality will be as high.”

The thinkfresh team said they were confident their idea would be popular with office workers.

Chris, 24, from Munich and now pursuing a masters degree in international business management at Edinburgh, said: “We’ve all come from countries where this sort of service has been around for some time.

“We feel the time is right and people in the city are looking for a service such as this.

“It will take some time for people to get used to it but introducing this to Edinburgh is a great opportunity.”

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