Looking after our health is one of our top priorities in the RY office!
Whether we're researching the latest fitness craze or looking up new recipes we are always searching for ways to maintain and improve our general wellbeing, which is why we love having a few packets of the Mr Lee's Noodles in the office kitchen.
They're the perfect meal when we've got a lot on our plate (pun intended) and these no-nasties noodles in a cup are crafted to authentic recipes and made using the finest freeze-dried ingredients, rice noodles and premium spices. So we thought we should sit down with Damien Lee, the founder and CEO of Mr Lee's and hear all about how his delicious enterprise started...
Tell us a bit about the people behind your company
Mr Lee’s Pure Foods Company was founded by myself and my business partner in 2016, after my diagnosis and recover from late stage-4 cancer. Since then, the team has grown to 17 people across three continents with multiple investors believing in my vision.
What inspired you to start your company and when did you start it?
Since I can remember, I’ve always had an interest in running my own businesses. An entrepreneur my whole life, I left home early and built and sold companies from Australia to Denmark and Singapore, most recently an ‘internet start-up’ by the beach in Bournemouth - a long-time dream of mine. 11 months into the business, everything was flying. We had a great team and had just secured a big external fund when I was suddenly diagnosed with late stage-4 cancer, told I only had a few weeks to live.
As a full-time Dad of two boys, I knew I had to smash through anything that was thrown at me. I changed my focus around eating, went raw in my diet, and fought hard through treatment, all the while working on my business ideas. After another battle with cancer in 2018, I have now been declared in complete remission, and to this day I’m a firm believer that ‘you are what you eat’. My guilty-pleasure for nasty noodles turned into a passion for healthful foods inspired by the lack of no-nasties options in the market. The creation of Mr Lee’s Pure Foods Company, the “no worries, eat happy” noodle, is my mission statement as everyone has the right to quick, honest and tasty food.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
These days I don’t sleep much, as my mind is always going ‘what’s next’. I’ve always believed that the ‘early bird catches the worm’, and I can’t wait to get up and start the day. We at Mr Lee’s work on many different time-zones across Australia, the UK and the US, morning to evening, 24 hours a day, so there’s no time to sleep, just excitement, and heaps of ambition!
What is your favourite way to enjoy your noodles?
I really enjoy seeing our products de-cantered into a bowl like a fresh noodle soup from a Hawker stand. Although always delicious, I like to ‘pimp my noodles’ with chilli oil, tamari soy sauce, sesame oil, and sometimes even extra garnishes such as vegetables, chopped coriander, spring onion - whatever takes your fancy!
What have been the biggest trials so far in starting and running your company?
Our trials are ongoing as we’re highly ambitious in what we want to achieve with the brand. One of the biggest trials to-date has been funding for growth, as we want to be surrounded by inspirational, hardworking people that believe in our vision to provide healthy foods for all. Associated with this are production elements, as bringing together our complex array on ingredients on three continents is no easy task! Key to all of this is keeping the team believing in the brand and maintaining pace with little resources. Turning setbacks into steps forward, and failures into learnings, we continue to push forward.
What experiences lead to the values you have instilled in your company?
I’d say that my life and health journey has instilled many of our business values. As mentioned, I’ve built and ran companies all my life, driving and growing value, but this has since been tied with the shock of my first battle with cancer, and my personal health concerns since then. This, combined with the realisation that the instant noodles I’ve been enjoying my whole life were full of nasties, has created our mantra to disrupt and change the sector, helping time poor people eat better with a healthier option.
Here at Retreat Yourself, we LOVE dreaming BIG - what is your vision for your company?
Quite simply, to reach every continent through planes, trains, supermarkets and local stores, office drawers, kitchen cupboards, our Noodle Kiosks in your workplace, event space, and hospitals to improve the health and wellbeing of those who typically purchase instant noodles by offering healthful, allergen-considerate options for vegans, coeliacs, diary free, busy professionals and improving on-the-go food standards across Europe, Australasia and soon - the US. Through a loyalty to health and nutrition, we aim to encourage other brands to make significant changes to their products, pushing the industry towards a more reputable status to satisfy growing demand for healthier foods.
If you want to learn more about Mr Lee's head over to their website: https://www.mrleesnoodles.com/au/