Monday, September 26, 2016

Max + Helga Mandias

M a x   +   H e l g a   M a n d i a s

These two lovely faces are in the frontier in making Jakartans eat better one healthy burger at a time. I was already a fan before I met them because I was so impressed with the fact that they are in their early 20s and striving to make a better change in the fast food battle that we are facing in Jakarta. Now, I love my burger -- but when you can give me a vegetarian burger that is delicious -- I'm a happy camper. And these two know for sure how to deliver just that with Burgreens.

Max and Helga went to college and worked together back in Arnhem, Netherlands. Once friends then blossomed into a couple after discovering that they share similar interests and passions. Helga has been a healthy food enthusiast since the age of fifteen while Max got on board around four years ago during his exploration of mindfulness. Helga in particular has a special bond with food, she used to suffer from chronic health issues as a child, but then she adapted healthy vegetarian diet and it healed her. Then they moved Amsterdam and had corporate jobs. But after some time, they decided to pursue their passion and came back to Indonesia. Making healthy fast food accessible for urbanites in Jakarta has been their mission ever since.

Helga has always been nice and accommodating and she has given me her time to conduct an interview with her. Hope this can help you to get a deeper insight of both Max and Helga.

SM: How's working together been?
H: Great! We actually feel that one of the purposes that we've met in this world is to start Burgreens and make conscious eating mainstream.

SM: Who is neat and who is messy?
H: Hmm. At home, I'm messy and Max is neat. But at work, it's vice versa.

SM: If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would you have done?
H: I honestly don't know. But Max would have probably been a monk if we didn't start Burgreens.

SM: How is it like being married and having a business at a young age?
H: Fun and liberating. The feeling of going through the start up roller coaster and achieving milestone to milestone together really took our relationship to the next level. And actually no one, including myself, ever thought that we would get married at such a young age. But it feels great to be with Max. Easier to do business together too. When we started the business, it was hard because Max and I had different standards and ways of working. I used to be a chronic perfectionist and Max has always been the creative and more flexible person. In the first year, we were looking for ways to compromise. We actually broke up twice in that year. But now both of us have developed ourselves to be more understanding and have found a common ground.

SM: What's the funniest thing about one another?
H: Max forgets about everything and I get annoyed about a lot of things.

SM: Favorite music and movies?
H: Pop-folk and future classic music like Kings of Convenience, Sade, Radiohead. As for movies, we love entertaining action movies such as the Bourne series, IP Man, Lord of The Rings, X-Men, Star Wars, and Ocean's.

SM: State one defining moment in life.
H: When we started Burgreens and learning about mindfulness and healing.

SM: What do you feel most proud of at this moment?
H: The community of people who are passionate about healthy food and sustainability that we have built. The community is our strongest motivation to continue to do what we do.

SM: What are your personal missions and goals?
H: Making conscious eating and consumption mainstream in Indonesia. We now live in a world where every time we buy something, we are voting for the kind of world that we want. What we choose in our plate has a direct impact on our health, the environment's sustainability, the welfare of animals and farmers. We have lost 40% of animal species in the past 50 years due to our ever increasing consumption of animal protein, palm oil, elephant ivory, unethically sourced leather, food supplements and beauty products containing animal parts, and so much more.

SM: What are you most afraid of?
H: That big chemical food producers (such as GMO seeds and chemical companies), big food, and big farms will take control of the world's agriculture food supply chain.

SM: What is your hope for the F&B world in Indonesia?
H: That F&B industry will go into a more conscious direction. F&B players have a  great role in shaping the demand and eating habit. If they go local, organic, and source ethically, it will help us achieve food sovereignty and environmental sustainability. 

*Photo courtesy of Klasika Kompas


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