Episode 07 : The Recipe For A Successful Startup



Marie-Eve learned early on that a startup requires a fine combination of resources, timing, opportunity, and mostly, dedication. See how she used her experience to build her company MissFresh by following her newfound recipe for success. Marie-Eve knew that if she was going to leave her amazing career as an executive in digital media to launch a startup, it would have to be for a golden opportunity. And it’s on the other side of the world that she found it.

Marie-Eve’s Growth Story Book Title: Finding the right ingredients 

Firstly, because that’s what MissFresh is all about, literally. But also because, in the startup world, finding the right ingredients is key. The right people, the right place, the right marketing tactics… Success is a combination of many individual and complimentary things.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why the food sector is one of the last to get digital and how Marie-Eve saw an opportunity there
  • Where and how Marie-Eve got the idea for MissFresh
  • Marie-Eve first thought about entrepreneurship after university, when a friend of a friend approached her and asked her why she didn’t use her e-commerce expertise to create something herself
  • What lessons Marie-Eve learned from her first experience at launching a startup and applied to her decisions when researching the possibility of creating her own digital meal-kit service
  • Why and how Marie-Eve decided at 30 years old to leave her prestigious job as head of digital for TVA and move to work in Australia

Notable quotes:

  • “We thought that with the “uberisation” of everything, the barriers were falling down so we took the opportunity to position ourselves early on, and develop logistical expertise, which is very much tied to our I.T. structure.” – Marie-Eve on the importance of I.T. in her startup.
  • “I got 99 jobs but being C.E.O. isn’t one of them” – Marie-Eve on being C.E.O. but actually doing a lot of everything.
  • We’d rather own less of something that’s worth more than more of something that’s worth not muchMarie-Eve on how their plan was never to run a struggling-from-the-basement-for-years type of business, choosing to raise capital rather than let the business grow organically.
  • “I believe it’s true what they say that you need money to make money… and we didn’t come from money!”Marie-Eve on why raising enough capital was a condition for the project to become reality.

Show notes: 

2:03 – Marie-Eve is C.E.O. of MissFresh and co-founder with her brother and partner.

2:50 – MissFresh is a “meal-kit” food delivery service providing ready-to-cook meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare and with a new menu every week. Visit their beautiful website at www.missfresh.com

5:49 – Marie-Eve grew up in Nunavut with her parents who had moved there. At 10 years old she came back to Montreal.

6:20 – Marie-Eve’s brother and future partner, Bernard, lived in Australia for a while, where he was using a meal-kit service. Marie-Eve stayed at his place at that time (about 4 years ago) and that is how she learned about this type of service.

7:70 – Younger, Marie-Eve and Bernard lived in Brossard on the South Shore of Montreal. They attended Collège Charles-Lemoyne.

7:35 – Marie-Eve studied marketing and international commerce at Concordia University and HEC.

14:20 – Right before moving to Australia, Marie-Eve had a really good job here as head of digital at TVA. At only 30, she was managing about 30 people internally and over 10 external agencies.

16:00 – Marie-Eve used a particular working visa for young adults of 30 years old or less allowing you to live and work in Australia for a year with a possibility for immigration after.

17:20 – Already living in Australia, Bernard was working as C.F.O. Asia/Pacific for Acxiom in Sidney.

18:00 – Marie-Eve quickly found a job in Australia, very similar to her previous position, for a media company in Sydney, Seven West Media .

22:30  – Marie-Eve and her brother were living in Manly on the side of the beach in Australia while researching the idea of doing something with digitalization of food.

24:00 – Bernard and Marie-Eve agreed to build capital from Australia and that if they got enough, they would go back to Montreal and launch the project.

27:05 – Marie-Eve and Bernard figured out they needed 800 thousand dollars to start their business and survive for 16 to 18 months.

30:45 – They contacted a childhood friend, Ritter Huang, to be their software engineer and co-founder. At the time he was working for a startup called Azzimov.

31:55 – There are about 200 meal-kit companies in the U.S. and about 7 in Canada now.

32:20 – Unlike most meal-kit companies that took the approach of outsourcing the I.T. and web parts, the MissFresh team wanted to build their own solid platform as a core differentiator.

35:00 – Marie-Eve and Bernard were skyping with people from their professional networks offering them to act as angel investors in their project and the response was really positive. They recruited people who had certain skills that could help them. They asked for a minimum investment of 25 000$ and the average investment was 80 000$. They raised almost a million dollars, surpassing their objective.

36:00 – They set up a structure with a convertible note – one of the most commonly used in the startup world.

37:15 – “Some really wise man (Jean-François Marcoux) gave us a really good piece of advice when we started building our company structure: the one thing you don’t want to cheap out on, is a really good lawyer that can build your structure in a logical way. That will help you if ever you want to raise a second round of financing and approach a venture capital, who are very likely to turn down a deal from a poorly structured company.”

45:45 – They started promoting MissFresh with a teaser page where people could subscribe to their newsletter and be aware when the service got available. They shared the page on their personal networks and social media. They raised about 600 emails this way.

47:10 – On their first week they had about 30 orders. And it would double every week, and then every week they would have to adapt and change their processes.