It’s the first hot day of spring in Melbourne, a day when you’re willing to overlook the dirty syringes littering St. Kilda Beach for a chance to swim in the bay, and where the warm glow of the sun on your back holds the potential for the first sunburn since March. Down the end of a quiet residential street a crowd is gathering in a backyard of one of the houses. In one corner of the yard a large, fort-like structure has been erected and is providing shelter for a group of twenty-somethings sprawled out on bean bags and old crates who pass around acoustic guitars, clap sticks, a tambourine, and an electric bass. Opposite, past odd clusters of chairs and a bin with a sign that reads “FEED ME”, a dog kennel has been re-imagined as a table and become a gathering point for others to stand about in conversation. Almost every single person holds a cup of red, green, or white liquid in their hands from which they sip intermittently. The centre of attention however, the reason why all are gathered here today, is a large white trailer parked by the yard’s entrance that is distributing these drinks. Within its four walls resides BlendCo., a superfoods blending company founded by three mates in their early twenties that is preparing to lay siege upon Melbourne’s festival circuit this summer. Today is their launch party.
In Melbourne, food is king. We host roughly 70 food events annually, entice world-renown chefs and cooks to come see what’s on offer, and are home to a plethora of markets selling food from all corners of the globe. It’s an ideal breeding ground for innovative food ideas, a characteristic that younger generations of Melburnians are embracing wholeheartedly. There’s the Brulée Cart on St Kilda Road started up by twenty-somethings Jack and Bart White who, at the ripe old ages of 13 and 15, were also owners of the Belgian Waffle Cart. After winning $70,000 on Deal or No Deal, 23 year old Scotty Bradley created frozen yoghurt chain Yo-Get-It; where if you can guess the correct weight of your yoghurt, “yo-get-it” for free. There’s also Kinfolk Café on Bourke Street, begun by Jarrod Briffa, 28, and Asuka Hara, 27, in 2010, that redistributes its profits to four development projects based in Rwanda, Ghana, and Australia. BlendCo. is the newest member to their ranks.
As increasing amounts of young entrepreneurs hit the scene, it’s interesting to consider what the appeal is for starting up a business at a younger age. For BlendCo. founders Mat Bate, 21, Morgan Cottee, 22, and Charlie Maginnes, also 22, youth and inexperience are viewed as strengths. Says Morgan, “we wanted to get involved earlier because we’re motivated by passion and not influenced by the pressures that come with older age.” Indeed the core beliefs driving their company are indicative of their youth, encouraging risk taking and innovation on any scale.
These are beliefs that the boys have adopted into their own lives as well; during founders meetings at Charlie’s parents’ house it’s not unusual to find the trio shrieking and offering hi-fives as a member uses a “big word” correctly. Despite the fun-loving atmosphere, however, at the centre of their business lies a keen desire to see BlendCo. succeed. Acknowledging their Generation Y heritage, the founders have embraced the tech-savvy nature of their peers and drawn heavily upon the tools of the internet to grow their company. Social Media networks such as Facebook and Instagram have been indispensable in establishing a BlendCo. following, and multimedia websites such as TED Talks are regularly consulted upon for inspiration and education. One of the more influential TED Talks the founders have viewed is Simon Sinek’s ‘How great leaders inspire action’ in which Sinek stated that “people don’t buy what you do but why you do it.” This has become a central notion in the running of BlendCo. and is encapsulated in their motto “We Blend.”
Back at the launch, the party is in full swing. From forth the BlendCo. trailer fly enviro-friendly cups filled to the brim with various cocktails of health, thrust into the warm air and consumed eagerly by the waiting crowd. The founders can be seen moving about in the yard; Charlie is chatting with his Grandma, Morgan is running about with some tools to fix the trailer’s yoghurt machine, and Mat has picked up a guitar and joined the crowd of musicians in the fort. It’s an interesting group gathered together in the throes of the late Sunday afternoon: a mix of old and young, family and friends, health nuts and party people, superfood smoothies and celebratory alcohol. Conversations on people, health, food, experience, the past, and the future intermingle and rise up into the spring air. Observing the scene in front of them, the founders’ nerves slowly ease into excitement for the oncoming festival season as they examine the mixing pot of people and ideas they have brought together. It’s their vision come to life. They’re BlendCo. and they blend.