Lysanne Bourret and Pierre-Olivier Gendron have just added crunch to their lives. Their company, Pretty Ugly, dives into potato chips, which in turn will be dipped into its salsa.
After the launch in 2022 of its sauce made with surplus or imperfect tomatoes, the very young company is starting to market a chip made from organic corn flour and spent grains, this residue of brewing grains.
“No matter what product we release, we really wanted the aspect of the circular economy to be put forward, underlines Lysanne Bourret. That’s why we launched crisps that are delicious, but also save food from food waste. »
In their warehouse in Boucherville, 35 pallets of potato chips and 25 pallets of salsa are ready to be shipped.
“We’re in the middle of a launch right now,” adds Pierre-Olivier Gendron. The chips are available in our independent points of sale, then they will be in all IGAs in Quebec in two weeks. »
Lysanne Bourret and Pierre-Olivier Gendron have been in a relationship for seven and a half years.
The entrepreneurial adventure has not spoiled the sauce of their relationship, assures Lysanne Bourret. “We wouldn’t do it any other way. It’s great to know that the other person understands 100% what you are going through, your stresses, your joys. We love doing it as a couple like that. »
They had met in the restaurant where they both worked, then young students.
The first studied in international relations and economics, the second in politics, international relations and communications, disciplines in which they worked for less than a year before bringing together the ingredients of a common passion for cooking.
“We saw that there was a growing problem of food waste,” explains the young entrepreneur. When we left school and had our first “adult job”, in quotes, we quickly realized that we were missing this little side that looks like us and that we found in Restoration. »
This is how salsa came into the dance. “Why salsa?” Because the tomato is the most wasted vegetable in the world,” he says.
There was another argument: “Everyone loves salsa. »
The two entrepreneurs started researching and concocting their recipes in 2021.
The owner of a restaurant with whom Pierre-Olivier Gendron had befriended allowed them to use his kitchens on Sunday and Monday evenings, days of closure.
“At the beginning of 2022, we started our market test, to confirm that it was not just my mother who told us that we were beautiful, that we were good and that our product looked good, relates he. We did a real market test with about twenty points of sale all over Greater Montreal as far as Quebec City to confirm our hypothesis. »
They were in the restaurant’s kitchen, with all four hands in the sauce, on a Sunday evening in January 2022, when they received a call from a Sobey’s buyer, who placed an order for Pretty Ugly salsa for 300 IGA stores. .
“We said yes, knowing full well that we weren’t able to provide,” says Pierre-Olivier Gendron. We weren’t doing 200 pots a week anymore, we had to do it with pallets. »
More exactly 10 pallets, or 14,000 pots.
“It was a sweet lie, adds his partner, but at the same time, it paid off. And his vegetables.
They quickly found a subcontractor, with whom they developed the production recipe.
“We absolutely wanted to keep the taste for which we had worked so hard, she adds. Our recipe has never changed despite the fact that we produce in very large quantities. »
“But at the same time, what’s beautiful about it is that the bigger you get, the more vegetables you save. »
Each jar of salsa saves two pounds of tomatoes that would otherwise go to waste, the company claims.
“We went from around twenty points of sale to more than 300 points of sale in three or four months,” notes Pierre-Olivier Gendron. “In Canada, 1.2 million tomatoes are wasted every day. When people ask us if we have supply issues, we always say, unfortunately, no. »
The Pretty Ugly brand was chosen both to intrigue and to prepare for future entry into the Canadian market. Its thick monochrome capitals stand out against a label with a white background, in an intriguing simplicity.
“The first amount we invested in the company was really for branding. I come from social networks and for me, it was essential that we have a branding that strikes and makes people talk,” underlines Lysanne Bourret.
The chip bag follows the same simplicity, with a white top and the same sky blue base as the logo.
“We worked in partnership with a Montreal agency called Billyclub. It is really thanks to her that we are able to stand out on the tablet and also to make sure that we are not falsely Mexican. There are many brands that have Mexican-style branding. We are not Mexican, and we do not want to pretend to be either. »
Mexico nevertheless caught up with them.
Pretty Ugly potato chips are made by an Ontario company whose founders are of Mexican descent.
During their participation in the program In the eye of the dragon, filmed in March and broadcast on April 12, the couple obtained the approval of Georges Karam, David Côté and Nicolas Duvernois. “It’s not just to invest and then remain silent, but to help us maximize our potential,” says Pierre-Olivier Gendron. The IGAs are just the beginning. We are going to have a product that will be available everywhere. »
He estimates that salsa production saved 50,000 pounds of tomatoes from being wasted in 2022. “In 2023, we’d like to save 250,000 pounds. »
Another way to set business goals.
This is a pivotal moment. The doors and windows of the manufacturer Milette Portes et Fenêtres will now be assembled with more consistency, thanks to the automated equipment for which the company has invested $1 million over the past year. “The significant growth and the shortage of labor that we are experiencing have meant that we have had to make good decisions and invest more in automation in order to be able to meet our commitments and have the capacity to assume this growth,” said Stéphane Diamond, president of Milette Portes et Fenêtres, in a press release. The company has more than doubled its revenue over the past three years. This investment will not result in any job loss, reassures the company, which specifies that the automation will make the work of its employees much more pleasant and efficient. Milette Portes et Fenêtres is taking the opportunity to rejuvenate its brand image with a new logo and the renovation of the facade of its head office, which will undoubtedly show new doors and windows.
This is a shop that will certainly be very popular. Ciele Athlétique, a Montreal brand of clothing and accessories for running, has inaugurated its first store in Griffintown, at 1630 Notre-Dame Street West. The new “space | MTL” (that’s its name) is the company’s flagship store. With a clean and uncluttered layout, the store is designed to give air to running clothing. The 2,500 ft2 space was designed by architect David Dworkind, of the MRDK group. Ciele Athlétique was founded in Montreal in 2014. Its caps and clothing are distributed on its website and in more than 900 stores.
Voilà evolves and unveils Evolia. Previously known as Voilà!, the workforce management platform has been rebranded as Evolia. The opportunity is the addition, on its turnkey human resources solutions platform, of a new service that offers a pool of front-line employees to companies with variable hours. With the Evolia web and mobile platform, they can now hire workers for specific shifts. The Quebec company, founded in 2016, targets the health, hotel, retail and manufacturing sectors in particular. With this new name, “we wanted a brand that evokes movement and change, because that’s what we bring to the world of human resources,” explained chief operating officer Max Trudel in a statement.
The Laval start-up Dispersa has raised $3 million, including $1.5 million in grants and $1.5 million in venture capital, to finance its growth and the marketing of biodegradable biosurfactants, without palm oil or petroleum, derivatives of food waste.