I was at a recent French American Business Awards, sponsored by the French Chamber of Commerce and I got very excited listening to Pierre Coeurdeuil of Petit Pot. His company makes gourmet puddings. That’s right, puddings! The business is so impressive with its 3-digit growth in 2014 and so far in 2015 that the French Chamber of Commerce named them Start-up of the Year, or as we say, Start-up de l’année.
Every business is a learning experience. Pierre has a great perspective on entrepreneurship. He sees it as a personal quest. If you don’t see it as a quest, then you will get frustrated by the ups-and-downs. He sees the tough times, and the good, as part of the journey. You have to keep your eye on what you want to achieve and navigate your way to that goal.
He shared that he was able to pay his first payroll recently, but he wasn’t sure he would be able to pay the next one.
The boundary between success and bankruptcy is a very fine line for start-ups. – Pierre Coeurdeuil
After college Pierre worked as a food engineer for chocolate manufacturer Valrhona in France, which is where the best chocolate comes from. He helped the company expand its chocolate factory. And then Pierre shifted jobs completely, deciding to build solar and wind farms. Pierre then met his wife just as she was planning to move to San Francisco. Pierre followed her.
While Pierre was in college, his current business partner Max Pouvreau learned to cook at his village’s bakery. After traveling the world for a bit, Max ended up working at Le Meurice. And then Max followed a girl to San Francisco. He became a pastry chef at Coi and mastered California cuisine.
It was in San Francisco that this unlikely pair of French ex-patriots found each other, and shared a passion for French cuisine with a California influence. They founded Petit Pot and the rest is history in the making.
I wish you could all hear Pierre tell his story. I was so inspired to become an even more passionate leader, and I think, to eat a little pudding.