Pleasanton entrepreneur Meeta Vengapally -- founder of Garnysh, a platform connecting athletes and fitness fans with meals that fit their training -- says the inspiration for her company came from her own life.
Vengapally had two babies 18 months apart when she was attending graduate school at St. Mary's College, studying psychology. After graduation she was striving to get back into shape with CrossFit and proper diet when she discovered, to her surprise, that the hardest part was maintaining proper nutrition.
"I had to make big changes, and I was spending hours in the kitchen just to figure out my diet," she recalled. "It was like a full-time job."
Part of the challenge was maintaining her "macros" -- macronutrients are the protein, fat and carbohydrates the body uses to produce and store energy, including for exercise. For CrossFit athletes, macros each must be consumed in the right amount.
"It is all about eating, cooking the right foods and staying on track with your macros," Vengapally said. "In the fitness industry, 80% is diet and 20% is going to the gym."
Vengapally talked to other CrossFit veterans and found many of them had the same frustration. Then the thought came to her: Why not create a business to help others in the same situation by finding them meals already made that fit their training plans?
Thus was born Garnysh, a Pleasanton-based company that connects athletes and fitness enthusiasts to food preparation companies that provide meals which are portion-controlled as well as tailored to specialty diets, including paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and balanced. The meals also contain the correct macros.
Garnysh's algorithm uses a mapping process between the user and the meal provider to arrive at a perfectly curated meal plan, Vengapally explained. The company provides technology to track the macronutrients and provide real-time feedback. They are also testing technology to offer fitness goal management in real time, she added.
Vengapally has lived in Pleasanton for eight years and launched her business here. Some gyms serve as pickup points for the Garnysh meals, which also are available at Gene's Fine Foods and Meadowlark Dairy.
She partnered with local gyms to find her first customers and they began to refer Garnysh to others. As she responded to customers' feedback, they became more loyal. And she viewed the feedback as a gift, noting that critical feedback is what shapes a product and a business.
"Right now we are servicing Pleasanton up to Walnut Creek, including San Ramon, Danville and Blackhawk," she said. "We are also testing in San Francisco and Silicon Valley."
Her customers consume an average of three to four meals a day, she said, although athletes who strive to add muscle may eat six to eight. To learn more about meals and meal plans, visit www.garnysh.com.
Vengapally also recognizes the importance of variety in a meal plan, and mixes and matches the vendors. Subscribers can choose an option called "Garnysh It," and be surprised by the delivered meals, which are based on their preferences.
The company, which has five employees, is working on adding a goal management tool to its platform that will allow users to also log, track and maintain their daily intake of macros.
"This system will create a unique database exclusive to the Garnysh platform," Vengapally said.
And she always is searching for more healthy eateries to provide the nutritious meals.
"Garnysh partners with local verified healthy eateries," she said.
Vengapally says her biggest strength in business is refusing to take no for an answer. She knew before launching Garnysh how to be tough and resilient, pursuing her graduate degree in psychology at St. Mary's College even while having two babies. This also taught her creative problem-solving, she said, and dealing with her children, now 8 and 9 years old, has helped her master the skills of negotiating and closing deals.
And the Garnysh concept has gained some attention in business circles. Vengapally has been recently profiled by AllBusiness.com and Forbes, and she has been approached by Entrepreneur magazine for a potential feature story.