We asked some of New Zealand’s leading business people about their bravest moment in business. In the final story of our series for Spark, My Food Bag founder and group co-CEO Cecilia Robinson.

"We already had a business and a newborn and decided to start My Food Bag."

Cecilia Robinson arrives at the offices of My Food Bag having spent the morning speaking with her PR agent, breastfeeding her newborn, and preparing lunch for her four-year-old son Tom.

She should be late and looking frazzled. She is the opposite.

"I did stop and think, 'This is crazy!' she laughs. "I guess some people would say, 'How do you do it all?' but I'm still managing a conversation with my son, helping him eat, while feeding my daughter. And it all just works, right?"


Before Robinson became a mother of two she and her husband (James Robinson, co-CEO of My Food Bag) ran the very successful Au Pair Link, one of New Zealand's largest home based childcare providers.

In 2012 the company would face its biggest challenge.

Robinson: "It was one of those moments where you're worried you're going to go bust."

At the time she also had other things on her mind, like maternity leave.

"The week my son was due I got sick of ironing, washing and preparing food for the next month. So I decided to explore the idea for My Food Bag," says Robinson.

Robinson mentioned to her husband James she'd like to pursue her idea, to which he replied, "Sure, darling. Go away and write the business plan."

Robinson: "I hit Save. Four hours later I was in labour. The next day we had Tom."

A month went by and the Robinsons met with the board of Au Pair Link. At the end of the meeting the topic of My Food Bag came up, to which Theresa Gattung replied, "Wow. This is exactly what I've been waiting for."

Cecilia Robinson, Founder and group co-CEO of My Food Bag . Photo / Supplied.
Cecilia Robinson, Founder and group co-CEO of My Food Bag . Photo / Supplied.

So what of Au Pair Link?

"Sometimes you've just got to put on your big girl's boots on!" says Robinson. "We sold it in 2014 and the business has only continued to flourish."

Robinson admits launching My Food Bag amongst other life events was tremendously exhausting, but would prove to be the bravest thing she and her husband had ever done.

"When I look back on that initial business plan I was pretty naive," says Robinson. "But it had enough structure to be a good pitch. And like any good business it resolved a problem. In this case, 'what are we having for dinner tonight?'"

Create a desirable experience and you needn't hunt for willing testers.

Within six months the team at My Food Bag knew they were onto something. Growth was exponential. Customers raved: It's changed my life. I'm losing weight. You're teaching me how to cook. My relationship with my husband is better because we don't argue over food anymore.

Robinson: "We felt we were onto something that touched people's lives."

Many companies feel a need to reinvent the wheel, while My Food Bag seems to have achieved the opposite. They've transformed something so simple as the way we eat.

"In today's world, with work, sport, travel, what to cook for dinner is a huge thing to worry about," says Robinson. "It's hard and it's time-consuming. And there aren't many surprises in life anymore. When our delivery box arrives each Sunday it feels like Christmas Day."

Pre-internet, My Food Bag would have looked very different, therefore understanding and implementing latest technology is crucial. As is a top up of bravery every now and then.

"I have a great husband and we work together as co-CEOs exceptionally well," says Robinson. "We share each other's concerns, challenges and wins. You have to be emotionally resilient. Look yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you do."

The most effective business leaders have no time for maybes, and Robinson's approach on how to move ahead in these fast-paced times is refreshingly honest.

"A lot of people need to come out of the dark ages and focus. The digital age has changed everything, which is a good thing as we're more accountable than ever. If a customer has a bad experience they share it."

"I take it personally when we let our customers down. I'm the first person to look at our Facebook posts. Our customers at the heart of every single decision we make. I think that a lot of businesses say that they do that but we actually do."

Could My Food Bag be around for 25, 50 years, longer?

Robinson: "Absolutely. I think this is a new generation of what food will look like. My Food Bag is nowhere near close to where we'll be in five years time, ten years time."

"We're just at the start - which is really exciting."

Every business owner has a defining moment, a point where they have a make or break decision. Us kiwis love a good success story, and we want to hear all about yours. Share your brave business journey with us and you could land yourself an exclusive Spark Lab VIP experience.

Spark will look after flights to Auckland, accommodation, dinner at Seafarers and tickets for a premium Spark Lab business event with the opportunity to network with the speaker. They will also include a one-on-one business mentoring session with an Icehouse coach worth $380.

To enter, simply tell us about your brave business story and what helped you along the way. Share your story here http://spark.co.nz/sparklabvip