‘I was eating 1,000 calories a day, now I’m making healthy groceries accessible to everyone’

  • Sonny was exercising 20 times a week and counting every calorie
  • But he struggled to find affordable, healthy food
  • ‘It took a massive toll on my mental health,’ he says
  • Now he has a good relationship with food and is running a health food start-up

Two years ago Sonny Drinkwater was exercising 20 times a week and counting every single one of the 1,000 daily calories he consumed.  

Today he runs a start-up redefining healthy living and the food we eat.

WellEasy is an online membership grocery store with a difference. It provides access to over 1,500 healthy and organic foods at wholesale prices – many of which are unavailable or unaffordable in traditional stores – that have been vetted by nutritional experts.

Members can shop by their lifestyle choices and values: vegan, keto, gluten free and more. Hundreds of members have already joined WellEasy, and it has just closed a £400,000 funding round.

But things weren’t always so rosy for Sonny.

While studying at the University of Bristol an injury meant he could no longer row. Instead he took to the gym, and his passion for exercise turned into an unhealthy obsession.

“I was quite ill,” Sonny, now 24, remembers. “I got into a spiral of calorie counting and going to the gym obsessively. I’d get up at 6am for cardio, do weights at lunch and then more cardio in the evening, all while eating exactly 1,000 calories a day. It took a massive toll on my mental health.

“At the same time I’d go into a shop and find something with four good ingredients that cost £4, yet something highly processed with 20 ingredients would cost 70 pence.

“I realised there must be a better way.”

With schoolfriend Joshua Barley he started WellEasy, which he describes as a “mix between Costco and Whole Foods”.

WellEasy members get access to healthy brands at wholesale prices. Meanwhile every new member sponsors a free membership for a low-income family, NHS worker, teacher, student or armed forces veteran.

“We’ve already had 50 people apply for the WellEasy Cares programme, which is great to see,” Sonny said.

The pair have just closed a £400,000 funding round and have been led by the co-founder of Made.com, Julien Callede, since May this year. They plan to use the money to spread the word about WellEasy and grow membership.

Sonny graduated from the University of Bristol with an integrated Masters in History with Innovation.

“We wouldn’t have started this if it wasn’t for the Bristol Uni and the help their Careers Service gave us with startup workshops, internships and funding,” Sonny said.

WellEasy were finalists in the University of Bristol’s New Enterprise Competition last year and in 2018 took part in its Foundership Scheme, a course that equips students with entrepreneurial skills through workshops and networking opportunities.

Stuart Johnson, Director of the University of Bristol’s Careers Service, said: “Sonny’s success as a entrepreneur is all the more inspiring when you consider how radically different his lifestyle was just a few years ago.

“WellEasy is making healthy food a viable option for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. We are proud that Sonny began his journey at Bristol.”

Eat. Drink. Sleep

Eat. Drink. Sleep