“After four years of consultation in Paris, I make kombucha in the Basque Country”

“I am very sensitive to environmental reasons. I often listen to the reports of Jean-Marc Jankovic, an energy and climate engineer and astrophysicist Aurelien Barro, I read IPCC reports, I no longer eat meat, I try to eat as many organic and seasonal foods as possible, I fly as little as possible. ..

In 2020, I am beginning to think seriously about the meaning of my profession. I tell myself that this might be more in line with my environmental beliefs. At that time I worked since 2017 in the consulting firm Nova Consulting in Paris.

Logical sequence: advice, good salary

I chose this path after graduating from EM Lyon because it seemed to me a logical continuation of my course. I liked many of my friends: I choose consultations or finances, the key to vacancies and a good salary.

Every day the pace is quite intense, we often finish late in the evening. But I learn a lot, the atmosphere is nice, the team is united, I have very good friends. I support two main customers: a dairy group that wants to grow in new markets in Asia, and a carmaker that I recommend selling more new vehicles, especially SUVs.

Market with potential

While working for this company, I became very good friends with Gregoire Colle-Mozhaisky, a colleague who left the company in 2020. He and his friend Clement Lemoine, who met while studying at Audencia, began making kombucha for personal consumption. . This sparkling and spicy drink is the result of a fermentation process and is made from tea, sugar, filtered water and a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria.

Clement is a great culinary enthusiast: after training, a master’s degree in business school and some experience in startups, he transformed by making a CAP in cooking. At the time, he was a chef at Garance, a gourmet restaurant in Paris.

One day Gregoire makes me taste their drink. I do not know at all and am pleasantly surprised by these tastes. Since we have been talking about doing business together for some time, I researched the market… and found that there is real potential! Tea can be drunk to complement a meal, dessert, not wine. Has a refreshing side, ideal for summer or for drinking after a sports session. Not very sweet and slightly sour, it can also be used in cocktails. In addition to taste, it has interesting health properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

We believe that the three of us could make good use of our skills in a project that combines our passions: indulgence, well-being and resilience. In the end, we took a step back by creating our company Datxa at the end of 2021. To dedicate myself to this activity, in early 2022 I left a consulting company where I worked for more than four years.

Get acquainted with the drink

Goodbye Paris, we put our suitcases in the Basque Country. A region that we like for several reasons: it allows us to get local products for our production and have an incredible quality of life, close to the ocean and mountains. It is also a return home for Gregoire and I, who have our roots there.

Clement is now in charge of production and research and development, and Gregoire is in charge of the commercial aspect and completes the CAP in Culinary Arts. I work more on marketing and financing. We rent a room 160 m2 in the industrial zone in Anglet, near Biarritz, where we carry out all production: infusion, fermentation, bottling, labeling, etc.

Our work is a challenge, because kombucha is still unknown in France. You have to convince those who do not know how to taste it… as well as those who drank it in the past and did not like it, because the tastes vary greatly from one manufacturer to another!

In our flavored kombucha we try to use as much as possible seasonal fruits and vegetables from the region: rhubarb, fig leaf, black currant leaf, citrus… As for our teas, they are mainly from China and India. We realize that this is not optimal in terms of carbon footprint, but, unfortunately, in nearby countries there is no such quality tea. We still offer 100% local kombucha, buckwheat from Lot-et-Garonne, and all our drinks are organic.

Increase production to make money

Since February 2022, the month when we released our first bottles, our drinks have been sold in markets and on the menus of about thirty bars and restaurants in the region. Goals by the end of the year: launch our e-commerce site for individuals and sell our products throughout France in grocery and organic stores.

We are not clearing salaries yet. If we can dedicate ourselves to this activity, it is thanks to our unemployment benefits, because the three of us have been terminated. To live on our project, we need to win market share and increase production. Due to lack of materials, the installation in our premises is delayed, but this summer we will be able to increase 4,500 bottles per month to 10,000.

Our days are full, but we appreciate the opportunity to organize ourselves as we see fit. You can choose to take time for hiking or surfing if you see good waves in the morning and finish late in the evening.

I do not regret my consulting experience at all. This allowed me to learn many things, and I think it gave us confidence in our interlocutors, in particular in our bank.

Cottage, dream

We would like to hire at least three people on permanent contracts over the next three years for the commercial and administrative part. This would free up time for diversification, in particular by launching other fermentation projects, as well as a waste-free kombucha made from ginger and lemon peel.

Our dream? Buy a big house, our country house (from the Russian, which means a country house), in the countryside, where we would set up our laboratory. On the ground, we could grow fruits and vegetables that we could use to make our kombucha. And open a beautiful table and guest rooms! »

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