Growth

Meet the Melbourne entrepreneur who is giving away his $500,000 business

Broede Carmody /

A serial entrepreneur in Melbourne has decided to move on from the healthy takeaway business he started a year ago – but there’s a twist.

Instead of opting to sell the company or pass on the reins to a family member, Nic Gilley has decided to give away his profitable enterprise to a complete stranger.

Gilley launched Fit Inn, a health food store specialising in healthy and organic takeaway food that caters to paleo and gluten-free diets, in Fitzroy in 2014.

Since then the business has grown to include small outlets in Richmond and South Melbourne, turning over more than half a million dollars in total.

Instead of operating within the usual storefront, Fit Inn outlets are similar to a large fridge stocked with healthy ingredients allowing customers to make their own meal. An employee is on hand to offer nutritional advice and handle payments.

Read more: British entrepreneur wants to give away his $1 million business

While his entrepreneurial spark certainly hasn’t died away, Gilley told SmartCompany the business is now ready to scale but he doesn’t want to get up at 5am every day stressing about cash flow and delivery logistics.

“I’m in my early 50s and have a daughter who’s 14 and I’m the coach of the soccer team,” he says.

“I’ve found myself facing a nice idea and the front-end of going to scale and promised myself I wouldn’t do that … I want some time for myself and my family.”

The solution? Give away the business to the right candidate.

“They can take it where they want, develop it the way they want, and if it works they have some sort of royalty payment where I get my investment back,” Gilley says.

“And if that doesn’t work that’s alright. A bunch of people saying we could do something with this and would love the opportunity – that for me is more interesting than the money, a sale or whatever happens in the future.”

Gilley founded several social enterprises in the UK before moving to Australia to work as the executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Since then he has overseen a number of organisations specialising in environmental and energy efficient programs.

Budding entrepreneurs interested in taking on Fit Inn simply have to apply online and say why they are the right person for the job. How much the lucky entrepreneur needs to pay Gilley back over time should the business scale successfully is completely up for grabs.

“Interested parties should be able to list their capabilities in terms of skills and experiences significant enough to take it to scale,” Gilley says.

“So they should have a background that says we understand business and know what it takes. And if it’s a single person, they should be able to support themselves to get it to that point. I’m looking for a bunch of people to articulate to me what they would like to do with the business and defend that … saying we can deliver that strategy because we have the resources and this is how we’re going to do it.”

As for his advice for entrepreneurs looking to delve into the social enterprise space, Gilley says the key is to find the right value fit.

“Find the thing you’re passionate about and make sure the organisation you’re in or creating has those values front and centre,” he says.

“The companies of the future that want to be profitable have to do that… people are recognising it’s not all about money and that they’re not going to amass capital like their parents did. So what are they going to do? They’re going to amass meaning.”

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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