SKEMA alumna Lauriane Despaux, the co-founder of Melobowls, writes about her entrepreneurial adventure and the journey that led her to establish the innovative restaurant in Bordeaux.
Business management has always fascinated me as an entrepreneur. This is why choosing to study the MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at SKEMA Business School was an obvious choice for me. I knew I would be able to obtain all the training and support I would need to create a business – from developing my idea to building a business plan, learning about project management, negotiating for funds… and much more.
Working on the same project all year long is really stimulating because it is a real job; some students even manage to launch their projects while studying!
I did not get the idea of Melobowls immediately after leaving SKEMA. I was working at an international recruitment firm when my friend Mélissa Tarris, who had been in the restaurant business for 10 years and wanted to give a new impetus to her career, spoke to me one fine day in September 2017. She told me about Poke Bowls: a novel Hawaiian culinary concept she had discovered during her trips to the United States.
After some brainstorming, things started taking shape. Our partnership was perfect: she had the idea and I had the skills to create and develop this project! The journey from the conception to the launching stage took six months. We found by chance an ideally located place in Bordeaux, and that is when everything accelerated. It was an intense time during which we had to focus on diverse aspects such as legal, finance, visual identity, the creation of a map, the layout of the restaurant, and so on, so that we could be ready to open the restaurant on March 15, 2018.
The launch of Melobowls was successful! Initially, it was just the two of us managing everything: one in the kitchen, the other at the counter… a great experience! It was important for us to do some fieldwork before thinking about development (internal logistics, suppliers’ delivery, product quality, and customer feedback). After two months, we started hiring staff. Four months later, I left the operational part to devote myself to the development of Melobowls. Nevertheless, I always remained available to pitch in and help the team.
A typical day? I don’t have one… none of my days is alike. Networking is very important and needs to be cultivated. Therefore, I regularly meet different people. I also manage administrative tasks, mainly during the opening of new outlets and developing franchises.
The entrepreneurial adventure is extraordinary. It is a thrilling challenge, professionally as well as personally, because it allows us to work hard and rediscover ourselves (patience, listening, resilience, letting go…). I encourage anyone who wants to get into it!
I do not think there is a miracle recipe for embarking on the entrepreneurial life. Nevertheless, here are some recommendations I would like to share with future SKEMA entrepreneurs:
- Believe in your project and trust your ability to make it happen
- Make your project mature, do not be afraid to talk about it and discuss it
- Test your idea
- Do not hesitate to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs (good advice is always helpful!)
- Listen to yourself