From dressing runway models to dressing salad, Freshii’s founder came full circle when he built a brand that embodies the spirit of his Millennial generation.
Working in New York City for Oscar de la Renta, Freshii founder and CEO Matthew Corrin transitioned from a career in high-end fashion to “health-casual” dining when he saw a need in the market for healthier and more convenient grab-and-go lunch options.
Although he had never worked a day in a restaurant, Corrin knew the secret to success in the industry didn’t require a degree in rocket science, just a lot of hard work. Borrowing enough capital from his parents to get his first store off the ground, the 23-year-old rolled up his sleeves and opened his first Freshii location in 2005, in the financial district of Toronto.
But the road to success was not without its bumps, and after a “disastrous” first day and a bad restaurant review, Corrin did what any smart entrepreneur would do: he rolled up his sleeves again and opened up a second store.
For the next few years, Corrin worked hard to build a restaurant brand that would help people live healthier and longer lives by making healthy food convenient, affordable and delicious. He was determined to ‘Starbuck’ the health-casual dining category, and that’s just what he did when he franchised the business in 2008 and opened the first 100 Freshii locations faster than Starbucks, Subway, Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s.
Freshii went on to win the Top Franchise of the Year in Canada in 2013 and today, the brand continues to attract high quality franchise partners worldwide.
The brand’s fast and continued growth can be attributed to its intersection with three key business trends:
- Health and wellness
Ten years ago, healthy food was defined as brown rice and spinach – today it’s Superfoods like quinoa, kale and edamame. The concept of healthy is continuously changing and to stay on top, food businesses need to keep up.
Freshii keeps its focus on tracking and staying ahead of trends and the changing concept of ‘health’. The brand continuously evolves and adapts its menu to stay current and bring its customers the latest in healthy food trends at an affordable price.
In today’s busy grab-and-go culture, convenience often means grabbing a quick burger and fries. But Freshii aims to provide convenient, fresh and nutritious meals and snacks to fuel and energize people on the go.
“The two biggest barriers to eating healthy are convenience and affordability,” explained Corrin. “Freshii aims to make eating healthy both affordable and convenient by focusing on offering fresh, customizable menu options.”
While many fast-casual restaurants have been struggling to meet the needs of the millennial customer, Freshii is powered by the generation: the business was founded by a millennial, half of its customer base is made up of this generation, and 65% of Freshii franchisees are millennials.
“The millennial generation is the fastest growing segment of our population,” said Corrin. “Millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit and are being encouraged to start their own business…They’ve also grown up in a health-conscious culture and believe in our mission.”
Aligning a ‘killer’ culture with the right partners
One of Corrin’s guiding principles for the business is to “Build a company with a killer culture, not a culture that kills your company.” This means that all Freshii systems and processes are in alignment with the brand’s mission to help people all over the world live healthier and longer lives by making healthy food affordable and convenient.
This also extends to its franchise partners, who personify health, wellness and believe in the brand’s vision. And while restaurant experience is an asset, entrepreneurial spirit trumps experience in the Freshii system, which is one reason millennials tend to thrive in the business.
But Corrin also pointed out that successful Freshii partners bring a wide range of experience to the table.
“It’s amazing because our franchisees come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and experience, from Ex-NBA players and Olympic gold medalists, Harvard MBAs and a Food Network star, to new immigrants or people who have sold other restaurants franchises and joined the Freshii system.”
Supporting its franchise partners
Corrin owned and ran the first 9 Freshii restaurants and worked hard to optimize the business before offering it to others in 2008. As part of Freshii’s franchise program, franchise partners receive corporate training for the Owner/Operator and Director of Operations/General Managers. Partners are also provided with ongoing support from members of the Training and Operations Team.
“My team has created a franchise system for Freshii that can be easily scaled and replicated across the nation,” said Corrin. “All areas of the Freshii business model are addressed – including site selection, supply chain, cost control, build-out timing, marketing and buzz creation – to ensure that each market across the country can be easily opened, rapidly grown, and successfully and profitably operated.”
Freshii recently partnered with retail giant Target Corporation to bring Freshii to 9 Target locations as part of a ‘café test’ for the retailer. Eight of those locations are in the Chicagoland area, and one is in Minneapolis.
The partnership furthers Freshii’s mission of making healthy food convenient to the masses, and Corrin said the organization is excited to align with Target’s increased focus on wellness and bring better-for-you options to Target guests.
The brand currently opens 2 new restaurants every week, with locations operating around the world and across various locations – from cosmopolitan cities, malls, college campuses, suburban neighbourhoods, fitness clubs, airports and small towns.
And the brand has no plans to slow down. Corrin explained that the business is positioned to operate 200 units in over 80 cities and 15 countries by the end of 2015, with plans to cross 400 units worldwide by the end of 2016.
“Our goal is to expand throughout the country by teaming with passionate partners who share in our mission to establish Freshii as the most convenient destination for healthy meals and snacks, served quickly while maintaining the highest quality of service and style.”
Interested franchise partners can apply to become a proud Freshii owner by visiting www.freshii.com.