FOUNDER, MY CUISTOT & LOMBROSA YACHT
Guillaume Manca is 33 year old and is the founder of My Cuistot and Lombrosa Yacht. He is from France, but has been living for studies and work in France, Argentina and England. He has an engineering and financial background; he worked 1 year as engineer in Schneider Electric and 3 years as financial analyst in Mazars before creating his first profitable venture in 2015. Before those 2 ventures, he created various non-profitable businesses: group-dating app Meetusss, the Airbnb of house parties Party Surfer, dishes market place Plat Maison. He loves travels, food and competition. His favorite sports are tennis and soccer.
I got in this industry to fulfill a personal need. I was in need of a service that nobody was offering in Paris. In 2014 I was working as financial analyst in a consultancy and audit firm in La Defense, Paris. Working late everyday I never found time to think about a healthy menu for my dinner, go shopping, cooking and then cleaning. It was way too much effort for the energy I had left at the end of the day. I was in need of a food delivery service, convenient and healthy. Once a week I wanted to pick my dishes for the week and get healthy meals delivered. But the price had to be affordable so I decided to create a new business model with the minimum of fixed costs, My Cuistot born. No central kitchen, no deliveryman, we work with independent chefs having their own kitchen and with delivery service outsourced.
We can see that food start-ups are having bad time. Startups like Blue Apron or Munchery are generously backed by venture capitalist but no one managed to be profitable. The competition is hard and all those companies stick with the old business model of a huge factory and deliveries through the all country.
That means low flexibility and huge fixed costs. They are running after volume to be profitable. My Cuistot focus on the proximity between the place where food is cooked and the final customer, thanks to a wide network of independent chefs.
100% home made food, in small batches, with low fixed cost is the new model.
The advancement of delivery services like Uber or Deliv made a model like My Cuistot possible. Delivery costs with different pick up points lowered a lot and made this model sustainable.
Customers are now looking for diversity, that means varied meals, with always the same standard of quality and quantity. Today no restaurant is able to change its menu every week with more than 30 new options every week. The future and the opportunity is to centralize this effort of menu creation, those menus and recipes are then shared with the network of independent chefs close to the final customer.
We are the leader in France that is a small market. We are very excited with our development in the United States where the demand is much more important than in France. We already deliver meals in New York City, Washington D.C, Los Angeles and San Francisco and American customers are very happy with the quality of the meals and the ease and flexibility of the service.
We have been working on different channels of acquisition in France in the last 3 years. We are happy to have found which one we want to focus on for the United States. My advice is to try all opportunities with the smallest budget possible before investing money in marketing. We haven’t done any fundraising at this point so we never have been under pressure to spend money. It could look like a weakness but it finally has been strength for our future development.
My most difficult moment has been the divergence of vision with my partner for the future of the business and our personal implication on the business. We had to agree on a way out in order to not close the company.
What our customers love is the freshness and the 100% artisanal way our meals are cooked. Each chef cooks in small batches, there is no central kitchen where the meals are produced with industrial or semi industrial methods. They have the feeling to eat the meals cooked by mummy or daddy when they were young.
I always share with others the strategy of development over 3 years. That is personally where I find energy to keep working, the vision and the impact that My Cuistot will have on the food industry in several years. I think it is primordial to share this vision with the team.
Think out of the box. Our model could look crazy for people from the industry. No clear regulation, difficulty to control quality standards, etc. But at the end, we are the ones profitable and we will always work on those difficulties to enhance the quality of our meals.