Matthias Gilles, Olympia de Proyart and Jules Couten are three BSc Business Studies alumni who are following the same ambition: making the traditional Tarte Flambée recipe an exclusive dish for Londoners.
Working on an entrepreneurial project at City University London made them realise the potential of making this dish a profitable and fully branded business and so they founded Flambée, a pop-up style restaurant.
We met them to have a quick chat about their current plans for their business, entrepreneurial experience, and also to ask them a bit more about their time at City.
Meeting the Flambée team
Matt grew up in Alsace, Northern France. He is also a qualified optician and has always been fascinated by entrepreneurship. Olympia was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. She is very social, loves art, fashion, food, seeing her friends and going out, but also hates to fail, and Jules is from Paris and he really enjoys anything to do with finance.
Tell us about Flambée
Flambée originally started as a Uni project, Matt says: “When I moved to London, the Tarte Flambée was nowhere to be seen and I had the idea of opening a restaurant selling this dish exclusively.”
“When we were asked to create a fictitious business as well as a business plan and financial statements as part of one of our classes, we thought about this idea. While working on the business plan we realised that the margins could be as high as 80% and we therefore decided to give it a go.”
The team started catering at private events, first through friends, and then trading at Brick Lane Market and Camden Lock Market and have more recently been at Old Street Terrace on Old Street roundabout and Canary Wharf.
When asked about the uniqueness of their tarte’s recipe, Matt told us that as it was a very special one, they would keep it secret! But we still managed to get an answer. They described their recipe as a modern version using some “trendy” ingredients such as smoked salmon or pulled pork, and still keeping its authentic flavour. Fancy a test? Then you will have to visit their next pop-up location!
What are your current plans for the business?
“We are writing a formal business plan in order to evaluate its real potential to be opened as a restaurant” says Olympia. “While we do it, we are still trading on markets, and we will be launching in our new location in Shoreditch, from October 8th, the pub is called “Catch” and it’s located on 22 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DA. We will be there Wednesday-Friday from 6:00pm – 10:00pm and Saturday and Sunday from 4:00pm – 10:00pm.”
What has been your experience like as entrepreneurs?
At first, we all thought that running a business would be less hard work than a 9-5 job, but then we realised that it becomes the main part of your live and it also brings its challenges, Matt says.
The main challenge, according to him, is having and making enough money to carry on. He had to look for a part-time job when they reduced their trading days and, on a personal basis, his social life suffered as all the activities of running a business are very time consuming.
Olympia, on the other hand, thinks that getting on very well with team members, and listening to each other has helped them to work as a unit. She also emphasises that truly believing in the project is key when the challenges arrive. Jules also adds that having people skills and considering all the stakeholders involved in a project is important.
They all agree that Cass Business School’s excellent reputation played a key role when choosing a place to study, and also coming to London was a great opportunity to develop their language skills as well as being closer to ‘home’ as Jules explains: “I really wanted to go away from France so I had two possible countries where to study: the UK and Canada. As I wanted to be closer to my family I chose the UK.”
On the experience and benefits of studying the degree, each of them has their own point of view:
“I think my degree gave me some skills I will definitely be able to use when working on the venture as a whole. I think it also enabled me to have a better understanding of the business/finance world which again would have an impact on the decisions I would make regarding my own business. However, I do believe you are born an entrepreneur and do not become one. Entrepreneurship is a passion more than a job.” Matt
“The accounting lessons helped me, as well as the branding and marketing ones. But I think that I really acquired the skills required to be an entrepreneur while conducting our project. I definitely learnt much more in the three months I was being an entrepreneur than during the whole degree!” Olympia
“The degree focused on big ventures and finance and not that much on small companies, but I still think that it helped me to be more open minded and accept that people have different goals in life.” Jules
Don’t forget to visit Flambee’s new pop-up location!
Where: Catch, 22 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DA. From Wednesday 8th October
Time: Wednesday-Friday from 6:00pm-10:00pm and Saturday & Sunday from 4:00pm-10:00pm.