Not long ago, words like “hamburgers” and “organic” were like oil and water. Until Louis and Anthony, two pragmatic and creative food lovers, arrived and combined both of them.
The entrepreneurial adventure of Louis and Anthony, founders of BioBurger, began in 2006. How did these two business school students manage to combine two opposing concepts at first sight: “bio” and “hamburger”? How could October help BioBurger grow its business?
Louis and Anthony met in 2006 at their business school in La Défense in Paris. Very ambitious but on a limited budget, the choice of food restaurant was an important issue as they could not find affordable prices in their district. “We ate fast food every day, but we were looking for more than just classic brands. At that time, there was no offer of gourmet hamburgers, so we had the idea of creating an organic fast food. The name just came up: BioBurger”.
After some research, they found no trace of organic hamburgers in the world. In addition, they saw that consumption of organic products in France was on the rise, so they started the adventure. However, at the end of the second year, without funds and with the support of both families, Louis and Anthony put their project on hold. The idea, however, remained active and, at the beginning of the 4th year of studies, the two partners began to work together.
A year later, they completed their 6-month internship in their own company: they found a location, did the work themselves, found suppliers (although some were reluctant to work with students without financial backing) and finally perfected their offer and their business model. Their perseverance was rewarded with the opening in July 2011 of the first BioBurger restaurant, rue de Choiseul, in the second district of Paris.
Focus on organic hamburgers
“We had 90 customers on our first day when we were only expecting 40 or 50… we were not prepared at all!”
It took them 4 years to carry out their idea and the only professional experience was that of Louis because he worked at McDonald’s. They were, without a doubt, memorable beginnings. But despite this initial pause, the proof of success is there: because it’s original, because there’s a real appetite for gourmet and organic hamburgers in Paris, and because customers are seduced by the €10 formula including hamburgers, fries and drinks.
“One day we found ourselves on the front page of 20Minutes with a very catchy title: Organic burgers to compete with McDo!”
Growth and disillusion
But a concept that works quickly makes emulators. 6 months after the launch of BioBurger appeared brands like Big Fernand or Blend, offering gourmet hamburgers, with menus at €15. With the advent of competition and the prices charged by BioBurger, Louis and Anthony had to seriously question their profitability: they decided to buy directly from producers to improve their operating costs while maintaining the quality of their hamburgers.
With their savings and the money already saved, Louis and Anthony opened on September 9th, 2013 a second BioBurger, at rue de la Victoire in District 9. This time, the two partners thought of something bigger, with a restaurant of 100m2, open 7 days a week and delivering 3 times more volume than their first restaurant.
But after the euphoria of this new opening and the income that accompanies it (the turnover went from €400,000 to approximately €1,200,000), Louis and Anthony realized that the profitability was zero: they didn’t earn money. This was due to the increase in their wage bill and the cost of purchasing their raw materials, which was too high compared to the prices of their products. Morale was still good despite everything: “We told ourselves, the customers are there: we’ll make it! And now we are entering the most difficult period in our business history…”.
Personality and know-how
For more than 2 years, they rigorously reviewed each line of their business model to find solutions. This led them to work in-depth on improving their manufacturing processes, a better supply from their suppliers and shorter distribution channels, the creation of a central purchasing in Rungis, and the creation of homemade beverages: “We have created our own system of 100% organic beverages, which has allowed us to reduce their price by 3, with 7 times less transportation costs!” In 2016, the business model improved but, in addition to the savings achieved, this challenge allowed them to affirm the unique personality and know-how of their brand.
An appetite for new adventures
“We’re in an activity that requires a lot of funds to open new restaurants or to develop ourselves.”
That same year, in order not to recklessly increase their payroll and for others to benefit from their experience, Louis and Anthony built their franchise model. The first opened in 2017, rue des Petits Carreaux, in the Montorgueil district, and 3 to 5 new stores will also open in 2019.
Looking for a partner to accompany them in the external growth of their company, Louis and Anthony discovered October: “We went through times when our cash flow was a little complicated. That’s when October intervened in a very reactive way: within 3 weeks, between the first call and the release of funds, it was resolved!”
Beyond the purely financial aspect of the approach, Louis and Anthony are looking above all for a partner who is in line with their values and those of their company. Because BioBurger wants to become as ethical a brand as possible, responding to tomorrow’s food challenges, with an environmentally conscience and a fair distribution of the value created between customers, suppliers and the BioBurger team.