How green homemade smoothies became a thriving business

Sometimes, the very best business ideas start with nothing more than a really good product or, in the case of Green Cup, a really delicious one.

Simon Guest (OM 2000) and his wife Natalie have always been health conscious – to the extent that for many years they started every day with a home-blended green smoothie. In the early 2010s they began introducing their breakfast concoctions to loved ones. The response was so favourable that the couple began to wonder whether their product might have a market outside friends and family.

The answer to that question, it turns out, was a resounding yes. They established Green Cup in 2014, offering smoothies made with fresh ingredients such as spinach, kale, banana, cucumber, mint and lemon. It was an immediate hit.

“We took a leap of faith and opened a store in Chapel Street, South Yarra.

“I remember on the first day we opened, Natalie and I were both working in the shop – we did that for the first year or two – and there would have been 40 people inside and there was a line at the front. I remember saying to Natalie, ‘We need to shut the door because it’s too much. It’s too hectic. We’re being overwhelmed here.’ But in the end, we got through it.”

Got through it is something of an understatement. Today, Simon and Natalie own seven Green Cup stores throughout Melbourne.

Trust and respect underpin the approach

The product itself, plus well-researched additions to the menu (such as acai bowls), are fundamental to the success of the business, Simon says. But none of it would be possible without excellent employees and a carefully nurtured culture of respect.

“We have 85 staff and a great team in each store. And I hope that they would say that we look after them.

“I learnt at Melbourne Grammar that respect for everyone is important. I want everyone to feel comfortable here. I’d like all staff to feel they can always come to work and know that they are going to be treated with respect and looked after, and that the person alongside them is going to be kind.”

Simon says the business has developed a “loyal, trusting customer base” and a “solid following” built on their commitment to a consistent focus on reliably healthy, high quality food options.

“Some of our bowls have Nutella or peanut butter in them, but that’s as risqué as we get. I think people trust that when they come to Green Cup, they’re going to get something that’s healthy but that also tastes good.”

Continuing to grow in the future

As for the future, Simon is both optimistic and ambitious. The couple opened their seventh store in November, and an eighth store, to be located in the south-eastern suburbs, is in the offing. The couple’s plans for expansion won’t end there.

“We might look regionally – whether that’s Ballarat or Geelong, I’m not sure just yet. There are also still several different areas opportunities within Melbourne that we’re interested in.

“But then the plan is to go interstate. Next year, there’ll be a strong focus on looking up north – either in Queensland or New South Wales.”