April 12, 2019 |
Les Gastronomes is an online platform helping customers source gourmet products and have them delivered to their door while respecting the cold chain.
lesgastronomes.ae launched as meat specialist supplier and was quickly recognised for having the best quality meats in the UAE with our meat sommelier. Moreover, we rapidly expanded our range with more products and now we gained a new reputation of also having the best quality of wild fish in the UAE, sourcing directly from fishermen in the West-Mediterranean and Atlantic coast, in addition to organic poultry, a wide variety of fine cheese and a recent expansion into premium non-alcoholic Beverages and Valrhona Chocolates.
One of our USP’s is the guaranteed cold chain, as grocery shopping has usually the worst cold chain. Just think about the time it takes you to get a product from the fridge at the grocery store to your home fridge. On average it takes you at least 1 hour (20 min to get to the counter, 20 min to get to the car & 20 min to get home) with the products getting exposed to thermal shock of up to 50 degrees Celsius.
At lesgastronomes.ae all our products are packed for delivery inside the walk-in chiller and on top we add gel packs. The packages are then transported in refrigerated vans to the customer’s home and delivered to their door while being maintained at constant temperature.
1. What led to your decision to open this business?
In 2013, we stumbled upon a quality meat delivery service by accident. On a BBQ night with our friends, a close friend of ours and meat supplier proposed to provide us the meat for the evening. As to our surprise, he showed up with a 10kg Wagyu Chuck Roll! After trimming, cleaning and portioning this beast, we ended up with a fantastic product to grill. By the end of the evening, while everyone was leaving, they requested us to let them know the next time we get hold of such quality meat.
An idea was born, and we started sourcing and sharing meats for personal use. With time and success this idea transformed into a small family business and saw the launch of lesgastronomes.ae in October 2016.
2. What were the three biggest obstacles along the way and how did you overcome each one?
Having a full-time job and being able to dedicate time for entrepreneurship ideas is extremely challenging and demanding.
Company Set-up: While the UAE is constantly improving the process to set-up a business, it remains a very big challenge for entrepreneurs to establish a new company. And this even-more when it comes to the F&B Industry.
Partnerships and Funding: While we were doing all the trials and errors and exploring the market opportunity for our idea. We were looking for key partners and funding. This is the most difficult part which we struggled with and still is the biggest challenge for us.
Competition: Competition is healthy. It is very important to have competitors who are working together with the aim to create a new segment or category. However, in the UAE we noticed that everyone likes to copy ideas and offer similar products at a reduced price. Unfortunately, this never pays unless you are in a discount model.
Michel and his wife Stephanie, who helped to build Les Gastronomes
3. What were the three most rewarding moments?
Customers & Suppliers recognition. It is the most rewarding moment, in a society where people are more tempted in tweeting their comments instead of providing positive, constructive feedback. We feel very privileged when customers contact us to provide their feedback/criticism. It is equally satisfying to see supplier’s recognising the work we do and are willing to go the extra mile to help us out, we appreciate that.
Quoting Oscar Wild: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”
Completing 3 years of operations as this is the first critical milestone in any new business.
4. What one piece of advice would you give fellow entrepreneurs?
Build on your Passion, use your people skills, be determined to make it happen and keep an open mind as you might need to change direction. Never give-up, hear what people tell you but listen to your heart and make sure you are building a good basis for the future.
5. What are your thoughts on the future of F&B and the industry?
While the Global F&B Industry is becoming extremely interesting and many new developments are very promising, the UAE market is more challenging. The cosmopolitan customer base is very difficult to satisfy, while customer needs are constantly changing.
Customers today are looking for a value proposition. By ‘value proposition’ I don’t mean a cheaper offer, the total offer needs to make sense: service, food, atmosphere and price. Gone are the booming days where outlets could get away with an average food and service at a high price.
For the F&B industry to be able to manage this change it would require from all players to work closely on their offer and provide a unique customer experience at the right price.
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