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How I started a business during a global pandemic

Written by Bachelor of Business student Emily Hughes.

The pandemic impacted everyone’s life in some way, shape or form. In my case, I had to return home to the United Kingdom from Australia, where I was studying a Bachelor of Business. But looking back, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, this experience actually helped spark the idea for my start-up business, Jeco Bowl.

In Australia, I discovered healthy food culture.

When I moved to Australia, I became immersed in the healthy, fresh and exciting food culture. From açai bowls to smoothies, I absolutely loved the freshness of the food on offer on the Gold Coast. When I moved back home due to COVID, I was saddened to find the same food options were not available in my local area. With lockdown in full force, I spent lots of time on walks outside. On one walk with my friend Jess, we noticed how food trucks and trailers were bringing people together, and creating atmosphere despite the difficult pandemic conditions. It excited us, and got us thinking – what if we could set up our own, healthy, fresh food trailer?

That day, the initial idea for Jeco Bowl was sparked.

We started researching immediately, and got stuck into the idea of a start-up. With our combined experiences and travels, we landed on the idea of an Aussie/Asian-inspired food truck serving smoothie bowls, açai bowls, juices, healthy snacks and coffee.

We wanted to design a trailer that was not only eye-catching and to our design taste, but was also super functional for future events, like festivals and markets. We researched lots of options, from gastro-bikes to airstreams, but loved the idea of a converted horse trailer.

Jess and I in our Jeco Bowl trailer

What it’s like launching a business during COVID.

When we were undertaking all of our initial research, curating menu items, inspecting food trailers and finding suppliers, we were limited to get together in person to brainstorm. It was so hard, because all we wanted to do was spend days perfecting recipes and working on the start-up! Instead, we spent hours on FaceTime, Zoom and texting.

As time went on, we were more used to this way of communicating and things became easier. It showed me that if you really believe in something and want it to happen, you will make it work, no matter what.

We learned a lot of lessons along the way but found lots of success in asking questions, networking, connecting with relevant associations, and just Googling it.

One of our perfected recipes

The content I’ve learned in my Bachelor of Business degree, and Bond’s extracurricular activities, have made a huge difference.

I've completed many subjects which have helped with our business start-up and day-to-day activities, from Responsible and Sustainable Business, to Marketing and Accounting Information Systems. In those subjects, I gained useful real-life knowledge which I was able to apply to our business; including about the ethical considerations businesses need to make around the ever-growing climate issue, which is one of the most important considerations for all of Jeco Bowl’s operations.

This semester I’m taking the Business Model Generation class where we are learning all about creating a business idea with huge focus on the needs of a customer. This has prompted me to also think of these ideas for our business, which has brought up things I would not have necessarily thought of before.

Outside of the classroom, I previously attended many Transformer workshops where I heard from the most incredible business owners and influential speakers. I also completed The Unfair Advantage public speaking workshop which has particularly helped when speaking to suppliers to get things done. My degree has also allowed me to network with like-minded individuals and gain valuable contacts which I believe have had great impact on our business to date, and I’m sure will continue to in the future.

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