Following their €14M raise and subsequent launch in France, we sat down with resident startup Collectiv Food in order to get to know the company, and their Growth and Strategy Director, Sabine Mirault, a little better.
👉 Quickfire start: Can you sell Collectiv Food to me in just one sentence?
Sabine clearly has this one down to a T, slickly telling us: “Collectiv Food is the full food sourcing and distribution service for food service locations who wish to purchase in a transparent, sustainable, and carbon negative manner via innovative last mile hubs.” ✅
The company’s overarching goal is to disrupt the B2B food supply chain, “which is currently not innovative, completely opaque, and cares little about its carbon footprint”, she says.
Sabine says they are reinventing the connection between producers and restaurateurs in three ways:
● Through a purchasing platform focused on informing better about the impact of producers
● With a distribution model that has a 50% lower carbon impact than the traditional model
● By providing an outstanding customer experience
👉 Tell us more about your role at Collectiv Food.
“I joined Collectiv Food to participate in the exciting phase of growth that it is currently undergoing, enabled by their Series A fundraising that took place in July.”
She is a FoodTech veteran, she tells us, being “lucky enough to have participated in other food-related scale up projects before” – valuable experience which surely helps her as she supports the team at Collectiv Food in the construction of their “growth path”.
But what does creating this “growth path” entail?
To this, Sabine explains that “helping a business to grow does not simply mean developing its top line, but it also means developing its processes, adapting its culture to the size of the team, and structuring the governance of its projects. Having begun our launch in France, for which I manage the essential commercial development, the first step outside of London is extremely important in our Scale-up strategy.”
The road to growth never was this straightforward though, as she admits that her role constantly adapts to the needs of the team and the business as a whole. However, she says, “this is what I love about startups!” ❤
👉What does a usual week-in-the-life look like for you?
Sabine’s observations about the diversity of startup culture were exactly right, it seems, as she says her weeks are “fairly structured, but never exactly the same!” She spends one or two days a week in London working with the Collectiv Food team over there, also spending time meeting with potential customers, clients, and partners.
“Food is all about humans, so it’s important to see each other in real life to progress properly with projects.” 🍴
Apart from blocking out two deep work sessions to allow herself to concentrate on specific tasks and organization, the rest of Sabine’s week is made up of meetings to resolve any problems that arise. These meetings, she says, “are always an efficient 30 minutes in length, and used for coaching or internal exchanges, using lots of collaboration tools!”
This number of tasks at such a level of efficiency sounds pretty super-human, so it’s here that Sabine reminds us she is human like us too! “I take one Instagram break every day as social media is pretty unavoidable when working in food. And, of course, I never forget to try out one or two new food spots around Paris!”
👉 What first drew you to working at Collectiv Food?
After spending nine years working at a different scale up, Sabine tells us she was speaking to a friend in the food industry about what she was looking for in a new job, and it was at this point she first heard about Collectiv Food.
“Following this, I had a series of meetings with Jeremy, the company’s founder, and then with the whole team, some of the investors and with their customers.”
“Collectiv Food is both an ambitious and meaningful project for me. The team are engaged, I share many values with them, and the role is one in which I know I am going to thrive” 🚀
👉 Can you tell us more about how growing and scaling a business in another country works?
Having participated in the scaling journeys across many European countries and even Japan, Sabine is no stranger to the process. It is due to this that she tells us she has collected a whole host of best practices:
"Each market has its own particularities and way of doing business that you must get to grips with. The weight of local culture is not negligible. In order to scale, you must really know what works in your business model and what bases can be grown, to be able to concentrate on what really needs to be adapted rather than end up changing path completely or creating a whole other business entirely.”
Before launching into a scaling project, she says, there are some key questions you must ask yourself:
● “Why are we launching into a new market?”
● “What is the cost benefit?”
● “What growth strategy should we subscribe to?”
“Answering these questions will force you to focus on things that will lead you to success and will help you avoid wasting resources in the wrong areas - as expansion can be extremely time consuming! Above all, you need to have a lot of humility and perseverance and surround yourself with local sponsors.”
👉 What challenges are there in the French market that Collectiv Food may not have tackled in their well-established UK market?
“There are many challenges that are unique to the French market”, Sabine explains, “the value chain from farm to fork is different – With Rungis for example which is a unique platform within Europe. The French are much stricter about what they would define as ‘quality food’. We are the country of gastronomy, food is everywhere, and knowledge of products is much more important.”
“The CSR challenges are the same, but France has advanced more quickly in certain axis, like short supply chains, whereas the UK are more focused on things like animal welfare.”
👉 What’s in store for the future of Collectiv Food?
The future of Collectiv Food is three-fold, Sabine told us:
🔗 More links between producers and food service operators and customers via trustworthy, transparent, and useful data
🥦 Quality products for all, in all the company’s markets
🍽 More PODs (Collectiv Food’s last mile hub units) which serve the majority of their clients and reduce carbon footprint
👉 And finally, what made you choose the Partech Shaker as your home?
“At Collectiv Food, we really believe in the strength of ecosystems, and the Partech Shaker is the perfect place to nurture these links – With Partech supporting us from the very beginning, with the other startups who inspire us, with the local area, it’s fizzing with possibility.”
“The Partech Shaker offers the perfect combination of living spaces that are… lively! As well as private offices to work more efficiently, all in the heart of Paris, and thus right near our customers.”
🤫 Bonus question! Any restaurant recommendations that Collectiv Food serve?
The burning question got this answer: “All the amazing PNY restaurants!”
“Each one has its own identity and iconic recipes, but in every single one you always find the same great vibe, super staff and products handmade with love, after having been sourced and delivered by Collectiv Food of course!”
“My favourite of these locations is the restaurant on Faubourg St Denis. I used to live just behind it, so it’s a real landmark for me – and it’s only a ten-minute walk from the Partech Shaker!” ⌚
Thank you to Sabine for taking the time to speak to us about Collectiv Food and their values, as well as explaining the ins and outs of scaling a company.
🍽 If this interview built up your appetite, check out the Collectiv Food website here…
👉 Read all about their latest $16M raise and expansion into France here,
👉 And learn more about their sustainability model here.