One year ago, Paul Bernier & Tximista Lizarazu founded what they call their “baby”, Fraîche and started on a journey of hard work, discovery and entrepreneurship to revolutionize the food industry in New York. Today, they open up about their business, fears, successes, challenges and hopes.
Could you please introduce yourselves?
Txim: My name is Tximista, I am Basque and I am the co-founder of Fraîche that we launched with Paul, almost one year ago to change the food game!
Paul: My name is Paul Bernier, I’m the youngest of a sibling of 4 boys and so, by definition, the son of a courageous mother.
What is Fraîche?
Both: Fraîche is our baby. Fraîche is the future of convenient feeding, gourmet and healthy food. We are bringing fresh and sustainable food to New York offices by installing smart-fridges that we refill every day.
When did the idea come and how did it start?
Txim: I was working on a food cart project in NYC with Vincent Herbert, the founder of Le Pain Quotidien. We were trying to revolutionize the industry of food carts in New York. Unfortunately, jurisdictions and legislation didn’t help us at all. I kept thinking and twisted the original idea as I wanted to do something similar with great sustainable food without the complexity of retail or legislation mess than the food cart project was about…just like that, this is how Fraîche was born.
Paul: I was in my Parisian routine working in investment banking, repeating to myself that I was lucky to have this great professional experience at my age. One night, Tximista called me from New York, told me about his idea and it was enough to convince me. Two weeks later, I was in NYC, for the first time of my entire life, to discuss the project. I never left.
How did you two meet?
Both: We have very good friends in common that we will never thank enough for introducing us! Edgar & Bibou, we love you.
What was the biggest challenge when starting?
Txim: So many challenges. Building a strong supply chain and sourcing all the best-in-class local ingredients requires a lot of time and efforts. This is a perpetual challenge but a great and exciting one.
Paul: If I had to pick a single one, I would say recruiting a team of experts who are passionate and 100% involved in the project.
What is your biggest pride/ success so far?
Txim: We are glad to help small local farmers to grow. We are placing our suppliers, farmers at the core of the story. This is part of the story because without these ingredients the fridge is empty so transparency is key! We also have big companies partners like Publicis, Accenture, IPSOS, and the list is growing fast. Their trust and support are amazing.
Paul: I’m particularly proud of the fact that we are respecting our deepest goal, which is having a positive impact on the world through the food system.
What is the best Fraîche memory you have so far?
Txim: Launching the fridge at Publicis (2000+ employees) with the team was really exciting. Hundreds of people came for the activation to test the food, hear the story and see the fridge! It was an amazing experience!
Paul: For an amazing shared memory, I would say the launch party of Fraîche in November at Fithouse, which has been a success: a great moment with all our loved ones.
According to you, what is the most important quality to have as an entrepreneur?
Txim: It may sounds cliché but resilience is key. Stay positive and focused every single day. Nothing is easy and the road is long.
Paul: The truth is you have to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and do anything, by visceral passion. Being an entrepreneur means learning by doing, because every day, we are doing things that we have never done before. Remain open-minded and simply learn all day, every day.
On the contrary, one thing to avoid when being an entrepreneur?
Both: Ego could be vicious and can kill a company. The whole mission takes priority over the rest. Being part of a start-up means being devoted to the project. And what is extraordinary and unique is that this devotion will give you a lot in return: learning on yourself, on others, memories, pride.
What’s the personality trait you love the most about each other?
Txim: Paul is very calm and always takes a step back to think and put things into perspective before making any decisions.
Paul: Probably the fact that we have different ways of thinking and working and that we complete each other. Our difference is our strength because we often approach subjects differently and in the end, we only take the best decision for Fraîche.
What pisses you off when working together?
Txim: We know each other so well that there is no conflict, or it’s settled in 10 minutes ;)… Of course, it’s not always easy but transparency is key. It’s vital to communicate a lot and share fears and doubts. The team is the most important asset of the company so being honest all the time about our feelings is the best way to take care of it.
Paul: He knows (laughing). We are spending 90% of our life together so of course, sometimes we disagree but we always take a step back and talking about every single thing with full transparency is our priority.
What are you grateful for?
Txim: Grateful for our lives. New York is challenging and offers so many opportunities. We are surrounded by many kind people who believe in what we are trying to accomplish, this is precious.
Paul: I am grateful for life in general, my family, my friends, living a great adventure with great people in NYC… I am thankful for every single moment of happiness I have every day.
What piece of advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
Txim: Believe in yourself and choose the right business partner(s) who share your values, that’s vital! Then, listen to advice from people you admire and trust but listen to your gut as well.
Paul: Do it because you’re passionate. It won’t be easy, and the path will be nothing but bumpy. Passion will lead you to the end of the road. Think, try, fail, learn, try again, nonstop, this is the truth. And in the end, you’ll succeed because you will have learned.