And just like that, January is almost over!

Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the new year, new me, my word for century trendy speech. I’m in a space where I want to be right in my mind and body. Since I live in Chicago, I’m often reminded by the weather, and that “summer bodies are made in the winter.” I’m doing the workouts, but to be honest, the diet is a challenge for me. I eat for my blood type, and let me tell you – it ain’t easy.

Like any other humble, hardworking, and hungry millennial, I’m looking for accessible and affordable resources for the journey. But guess what? Not only did I find a few, but I also discovered Kevin Curry. The fitness influencer, entrepreneur, and creator of the #1 bestselling Food & Drink app, Fit Men Cook, is known for sharing quick meal prep recipes that will save you time, money, and inches on your waistline— all while helping you to get healthy on your own terms.

What was the pivotal moment in your life that inspired you to launch Fit Men Cook?

Fit Men Cook was supposed to be my own little side hustle, side hustle meaning let me try to get as much free help that I can get for my diet.  I was tired of paying personal trainers, and I couldn’t afford to keep paying personal trainers.  So, I knew I could crowdsource my diet if I shared out my journey and allowed others to share with me what they’re doing, and I then would get fit using the internet.

When did this become your permanent business?

I quit my job in January of 2014 and took a significant risk to pursue this full time. It was a passion project that continued to grow into something else.

Do you ever feel like you lost a little of your passion since it is a business now?

That’s such a great question and I’m so glad you asked. They (people) tell you to go ahead and follow your passion, and once you do, it becomes a chore. Once it becomes your primary source of income, the creativity decreases, you start becoming disgruntled, etc., etc. It would be best if you found the balance. You want to make sure the passion does not become a job.

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When did you realize this was a real opportunity?

In 2013, sent me a Facebook message saying, “can we hop on the phone and talk?” I thought it was spam, so I didn’t respond for almost two weeks. I received a follow-up message asking me to hop on the phone. I hopped on the phone with them, and it was the entire editorial board and the president and chief, and he said, “Our athletes love your recipes. Everyone has been sending them around the office. Will you come and write for us?”

I was sitting in my cubicle trying to have this conversation, and I just took a moment.

It was a wow moment. I didn’t think this was going to be something, but perhaps there was more to this than I realized. I had to consider doing things differently because I had this website I wholeheartedly admired, had been following for quite some time asking me to come and be a part of the team. I didn’t look like the athletes. I never did bodybuilding. It was just a tremendous honor for me.

From this experience, the birth of brand partnerships was created. What’s a brand that you were able to partner with unexpectedly?

Last year, I did a web-based series with Panera Bread called “Food Interrupted.”

I was on the show to tell firefighters to go plant-based. To be clear, I’m not plant-based, but I do preach the good about food, and the opportunity was on brand. I did it, and they liked it. During the filming, the Head Chef/ Food Scientist pulled me aside and said, “Hey, we’re just talking here. If you could do one thing over at Panera Bread, what would you do?” I immediately pitched a TexMex bowl. Here’s how I would do it. I would do a full bowl with everything in it. I think a lot of times, people look at salads and think they’re going to be wimpy. What if we could make a mixture be an actual complete meal with everything? Make it plant-based, but if people want to add chicken or something else in there, they can. She looked at me and said, “okay.” A week later, there was an email that said, “We want to do this idea with you.” This was the first time this was ever done. It was launched in New York, Atlanta, etc. The bowl inspired the greens and grains bowl series since then. It’s crazy to see how brands keep an ear to the streets and take their inspiration from consumers. I think it’s dope.

How are you converting your followers into paying customers?

I don’t want to oversimplify my response here. I’ve built this brand over several years. I did my videos for six years. I had to grow into this role. Yes, you need the content, but consistency is critical. The ideas for monetizing will come to you. It would be best if you laid the foundation. For me, people started reaching out based on the content. I was liberal with the content, demonstrated proof of model, and I think people appreciated that a lot more because we invested in them. Now we have spices we can sell we launched in November. We went from building an app, to have a book, to having a product!

From passion project to serendipitous moments, when did you become the CEO?

It’s different from being an influencer. I put the CEO hat on about a year or two ago. I told my manager this, “I want fewer partnerships. I wanted fewer brands being published across my page. I only want to work with brands that I believe in and that believe in me.” And that’s the fundamental difference. When you believe in me, then the promotion that I do would be reciprocated on the other side. I had to get myself and the business manager to understand we were going to be running our business in a brand-new way. So, the way we craft partnerships now is entirely different. It’s much more of an engaged collaboration. They are equally promoting the brand. We get that with Panera, Hilton, and Bob Evans. You will see the marriage of the brands on each of our sites.

To learn more about Fit Men Cook and what they’ve got going on in their online kitchen visit or follow: / @fitmencook.