Former Birmingham accountant Ben Thompson is burning the midnight oil with his new business – but it’s all in a healthy cause.
Ben, a self-confessed workaholic, turned his back on a high-flying tax advice career which had seen him dealing with multi-million pound budgets to set up his own fruit delivery venture.
Ben decided a career with top accountancy firms Andersen, Coopers and Lybrand and Ernst and Young wasn’t for him – and instead launched Fruitdrop.
The Fruitdrop scheme, initially piloted in London last year, is now aiming to transform the snacking habits of Birmingham workplaces by bringing his fresh fruit delivery to city workplaces.
Ben, Fruitdrop’s founder and managing director, says bananas, apples and the like offer a valuable antidote to the corporate vending machine culture of crisps, sweets and chocolate bars that slows workers down and adds inches to their waistlines.
“We are offering employers a free sample box to see how easy it is to help keep their workforces healthy and more productive. Not only is having fruit a healthier option, but research has shown that it can increase productivity by as much as 20 per cent.”
Ben, 33, says he has no regrets about his dramatic career change. “I worked for leading accountancy firms for 10 years doing tax advice, but I decided I wanted to do something entirely different.”He got his idea for Fruitdrop during a stint working for Deutsche Bank in Sydney, Australia, where he noticed the beneficial aspects of fruit to staff.
“There is proven research that healthy employees are more productive than unhealthy ones. I took that idea with me for Fruitdrop.”
Ben, who lives in East London, set up the service around two years ago in early 2007 and now Fruitdrop boasts a network of five drivers.
“It’s all about finding the business. We currently have 180 customers across London, the Home Counties, Oxfordshire and now the West Midlands.
“The vast majority will offer the fruit free, although there will be some who set up a kind of charity box.”
Ben starts his working day “ridiculously early” in the small hours of the morning before heading off to London’s Borough market to collect the fruit.
“We aim to get everything delivered by 11am and then it’s back to the office to work on the admin side.
“I usually finish work at about seven o’clock at night. It’s a very long day but I enjoy what I do, which makes it less like work in the normal sense of the word.”
From humble beginnings, Fruitdrop is currently generating business of around £50,000 a month. “I think this is a good business, and we will see where it takes me. It’s early days, but there’s a lot of potential for this. A lot of businesses are thinking credit crunch but this is a cheap way of keeping employees happy and productive.”