Damien Lee founded Mr Lee’s Noodles after devastating news changed his outlook on life. The successful entrepreneur put his former business on the side to dedicate himself to recovery, out of which Mr Lee’s Noodles was born. Damien told us how his own traumatic experience made him realise there was a gap in the market for the first gluten (and guilt)-free cup noodle. Read how his inspirational story directs his branding, gives the business its unique selling proposition and ultimately paves the way for success.
First things first. Mr Lee’s Noodles has an incredible story. Could you tell us how the business idea was born?
The business was born in June 2015, incorporated here in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.
Up until then, I was dealing with my unexpected diagnosis of an aggressive, terminal form of cancer that turned my world upside down! I went raw in my diet and started taking all the nasties out, particularly cup noodles that I could no longer eat due to their unhealthy contents.
After 18 rounds of chemo and chemo-related treatment, I was diagnosed free of cancer, but my previous business was sadly put aside. Now on holiday with my two young boys James and Josh, I found myself on a beach in Greece thinking what’s next? And then I thought, let’s make a healthy cup noodle, but let’s do it in a way that nobody has done before.
What are your USPs and how do they define your brand?
There is a lot that sets us apart. To date, we have six flavours which all use gluten-free rice noodles and freeze-dried ingredients, which unlike dehydrated ingredients, maintain the physical and nutritional integrity of the product...And we use lots of it!
Our noodles are natural and free from any nasty food additives, chemical MSGs, preservatives, flavours or colouring. This defines our brand as a premium, top-end instant soup product, as no other brand in the cup noodle range uses such high quality (and quantities) of vegetables and meats in their products.
How do you think your story has impacted the success of Mr Lee’s Noodles?
My story has impacted our progressive growth in many ways, from the lessons learnt through my battles with cancer, and that throughout my life as a practising businessman. More specifically, opportunities and relationships have grown from my experience with my disease and has opened a lot of doors from an angle I would have never expected. I have spoken at events to try and inspire the next generation, and to motivate business workforces. From here, our products have been exposed to a large network of people that are now invested in seeing Mr Lee’s succeed, and being on the backs of such a challenging part of my life, it’s amazing to see this reaction.
You let your personality shine through your marketing activity. Why do you think it’s important that startup owners put themselves out there when promoting their business?
Being a startup is all about making the brand your own. From the go I wanted to be as open as possible to our customers by showing them our company's culture, the beautiful town of Bournemouth we call home and my own enthusiasm for the product. It’s so important for any young brand to put themselves out there, because not only are we selling healthy food products, we are also selling a way of life.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are struggling to find their own unique story?
Never be afraid of trying something new and to fail trying. The strength is to get back up each time and trying again until you succeed. Your true strength is your mind and how you apply it, and from there, any brand can grow organically and find its own.
For more information about the brand and Mr Lee’s story, go to https://www.mrleesnoodles.com.