27 year-old Ben Lebus is the mastermind behind MOB Kitchen, a hugely popular online food channel showing students and young professionals how to eat healthy and delicious food on a budget. And with the recent launch of their second recipe book "Mob Veggie", MOB Kitchen are poised for worldwide domination.
Ben: Mob Kitchen began as an idea when I was at university. I saw that my friends, who had not grown up in a ‘foodie household’, did not share the enthusiasm that I had in the kitchen. They were not comfortable trying new things, and they didn’t have any go-to online resources when it came to making food. I began having this idea of a student only food space online.
The day I left university, I filmed 20 recipes in my parent’s kitchen - They were these overhead food video recipes that were going viral on Facebook at the time – and spent the rest of the summer coming up with the brand. MOB Kitchen launched in October 2016.
Not at all. I spent four to five months really floundering around at home with mum and dad, much to their dismay, trying everything that I could to build the platform out. Video after video I thought “this is going to be the one” and it just wasn’t happening.
I became a Deliveroo rider so I could hide mob flyers in pizza boxes. I would stand outside the supermarkets handing out those same flyers asking people to try the recipes, I even joined Tinder to promote my channel to everyone I matched!
The chicken gyros video was definitely our moment, it was the first one that really popped off.
Around February 2017, I teamed up with an old school friend who was a keen videographer. I’d run out of the first batch of content, so we changed the style up. I freshened up the music we were using, focusing on up and coming bands. I spent days researching breaking artists in the NME and reaching out to them, and they were more than happy for us to use their music.
The videos felt like they had a dash of life put into them, and a couple of them went viral. With that, I could approach brands to sponsor our videos, and when the money started trickling in, I could really start funding the process of building out the brand.
We are a team of six now, and every day we are in here from 9 to 5; it’s a really exciting environment to work in and we have total creative freedom.
We’re a young team, we’ve got all of our own kit and we can really do whatever we want. A typical week will involve lots of filming in our studio kitchen, from standard recipe videos to collaboration videos with special guests, from sports stars to restaurant owners.
Being an online brand there is a lot of computer desk-based work too. Editing takes a lot of time, there is insanely precise attention to colour and lighting, and then marketing and scheduling our content so it all goes out smoothly and at the best times. We spend a lot of time sitting down here in the studio.
I wanted some high-performance chairs for the team. They had to be comfortable for long hours at the desk, height adjustable as our working environments are multi-level, and they had to be stylish to fit in with our brand idea.
I spent some time looking around and I thought that Flokk offered the best ones out there, and I loved the look and idea behind the HÅG Capisco; it just ticks all the boxes. The shape is completely unique and they are unbelievably ergonomic. Being able to move freely, changing positions, without affecting my work output, is really great and my posture has just improved immeasurably.
The design is stunning and beautiful, and being able to customise the design from the texture of the fabric, the colour and even the base of the chair - it all plays into something that’s really lovely about being able to have your own personal touch on things. The whole team are happy every day sitting on the chairs.
We are also big into sustainability, so it’s nice that the HÅG Capisco fits into that mindset. They can get recycled and reused after their long lifetime, and they are made from recycled materials too. It’s just a nice element of the chair.
We are obviously really keen to teach, guide and instruct. We are all about cutting down on waste when eating. We like to incorporate fun little games to encourage people to live a more sustainable lifestyle. We have an ongoing competition called the 'Zero Waste Awards', where we invite followers to upload a photo of a dish they’ve cooked using leftover ingredients with the tag #zerowasteawards. If we like your idea, we post it on our platforms and send out a copy of both our cookbooks.
A lot! We are launching a social media driven food app. It’s slightly different from what we’ve done before, I can’t say too much apart from I’m really excited about it! We have bought a van which we are turning into the ‘MOB truck’ to take to festivals and do lots of events and collaborations with other brands. We have developed our own range of spice blends we are trying to get into retail.
So a lot of exciting stuff, probably too much, but I’m 27 years old, there’s cash in the bank, and I think, “why let it sit there?”.
You’ve got to try things constantly. There’s a high chance that some things won’t work, but you’ve got to be adapting, you’ve got to be moving in order to stay relevant or you get left behind. But I love it, I’m embracing the moment.
Ben Lebus speaking to Flokk in November 2019. Click below to watch a short video filmed at MOB Kitchen HQ.
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