Behind Urban Cuisine, there is the story of a business. There is also the story of a convinced duo that in town, you can produce and consume quality fruits and vegetables. Meeting with Joséphine and Antoine, the founders of Urban Cuisine, behind the scenes of their industrial start-up.
Good vegetables at home
To go back to the sources of Urban Cuisine, you have to return in the summer of 2018. Joséphine and Antoine, friends for a few years, have been on group vacation in Puglia, south of Italy. Here, we eat generous dishes, based on good fruits and vegetables grown in surrounding vegetable gardens. During a fiery discussion, the band of friends wonders: What if we could access such good products while being in town? Bring the place of production to the place of consumption?
"At that time, we had this somewhat vague project, this idea of cultivating at home to avoid going to the supermarket buy aromatic herbs sold under plastic."
Back in France, the group of friends gets into the game, does research on the web, inquires the advantages and disadvantages of an interior vegetable garden. Joséphine, handyman, designs the first prototype in the courtyard of her building. "I spent my time chatting with the manager of a weed store, who had good knowledge of hydroponics" she recalls. THE first prototype is conclusive. Radice, lettuce and chives, vegetables grow quickly, thanks to the liquidated nutrients added in the water. "At that time, we thought we were holding something. No vegetable garden on the market offered this level of return. It was crazy this idea of contributing to his own diet, from home, even being in Paris! ”
If several friends of the troop were interested in the project, Joséphine and Antoine are the only ones to feel ready to leave their respective jobs for embark on this industrial adventure.
Two Bretons exiled in Paris
But who are they, these entrepreneurs in the soul? First, both are Originally from Brittany. “I lived in a hamlet of four houses in the Gulf of Morbihan, tells Joséphine. We were going to the beach every day. I grew up bare feet, in the open air. " Antoine spent his childhood in Brest, less in nature, but Very active in the vegetable garden with his parents. “I remember the tomato plantations in May, and also weeding! ”
At 9 years old, Joséphine left Brittany for Paris. A shock. "I cried when I saw the size of the playground." Here she feels oppressive. After his schooling, his course at the Ipag offers him the opportunity to exit the capital. She leaves for Rome, San Francisco, Edinburgh, Toronto ... for her First professional experience, Joséphine embarks on entrepreneurship. “My father, navigator, crossed the oceans with a boat on foils. It made us want to use this technology to transport Parisians and tourists. ” For 3 and a half years, she goes up her Hardware start-up, before reselling its shares once the project is stabilized. And starts to find The taste of Paris.
For his part, Antoine continues his studies in Nantes, before establishing himself in Paris for work.
"I was hired by an investment background which financed capital transactions to entrepreneurs in the food industry. It was a fulfilling job, I learned a little more about what you eat every day, where the seeds, the logistics of the agro-business chain come from. "
The beginnings of the project
Back in 2018. In the fall, the first functional interior vegetable garden prototype, the two young entrepreneurs 100 % launch into their project.
A few months later, they joined the Parisian incubator Station F. “It was reassuring to find yourself in this ecosystem, surrounded by people who ride their box. It made things very concrete. ”
To compose the recipe for their Crop (and avoid gardeners to transform into apprentices chemists), Joséphine and Antoine contact the best interlocutor there is: theINRAE. "I just took the phone, made up the number and explained our project, recalls Joséphine. A few days later, Christine Aubry, a research size, reminded us to tell us that she loved our concept and to give us all the right contacts. ” Of thread by needle, the team exchanges with many Urban agriculture specialists, all more benevolent than each other.
In September 2019, the Research and development phase can finally start. March 2020, the team rises a new more elaborate prototype with the help of a fablab, a sort of collaborative laboratory. But the health crisis arrives and with it its share of uncertainties. "At that time, we had the idea of launching a crowdfunding campaign to democratize the use of crop clods. The feedback was very good! ” In parallel, they decide to launch two other products: cork pots and balconies.
The industrialization phase
Then start the industrialization phase. We are in September 2020. "On the 5th page of Google, I found a service provider that could transform our prototype into an industrializable version, Remember Joséphine. This mechanical engineer launched his workshop precisely to produce objects in small series. ” Since then, the man has ended his days. A new tragic for the team, who worked with him 2 to 3 days a week. “It took us months to go up the slope.”
For several months, the team launched Looking for the best craftsmen and industrialists To shape the product, but also create packaging and manage logistics.
“We crisscrossed the four corners of the country to find the right partners. Finally, we focused on the Great West. It was important for us to be close to people, and to be able to be present in a few hours trip. ”
There Version 0 of the vegetable garden was delivered to the first buyers in May 2021. “We have traveled France by truck to ensure the delivery. From Auxerre to Quimper via Mérignac, we discovered the diversity of our customers, from novices to gardening to the most experienced. ”
Since then, Urban Cuisine has revised all its communication, launched its application and has had a New version of his vegetable garden, baptized liv.
Of co-founder friends of an industrial start-up
We might wonder how we go from friends to Co-founders of an industrial start-up. For Joséphine and Antoine, things were done naturally: they have very complementary characters and skills.
When asked if they areThey always wanted to set up their business, the answer is mixed. Antoine, who considers himself a “risquophobic”, did not think of launching one day. And yet, by dint of rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs, to visit industrial sites (and to have toured his job), he felt ready to go to the other side.
"Joséphine's experience in the hardware industry comforted me in this choice. I wanted to give more meaning to my professional life, to do something with my hands. I feel more entrepreneur today than 4 years ago, even if I would define myself more as a manager. ”
A human adventure
During these 4 years, Joséphine and Antoine were marked in many moments, especially at each stage of product creation.
"I remember one day, we were in the factory that produces compact and metalwork. Our partners began to assemble the vegetable garden. They were proud, they found it beautiful. It moved me to see that other people shared our craze " tells Joséphine.
If they set up the Urban Cuisine deux project, they were supported and accompanied by dozens of partners. “It takes a whole village to set up such a project. We were fortunate to be accompanied by extraordinary people. ”
In 2022, The duo has grown To welcome Audrey, artistic director, and Hugo, sales manager. "It's a pride for us to have been able to recruit" loose Joséphine. Satisfied with the path traveled, both have Establish to deliver the 300 models of the Pog And to flood the market, so that everyone can grow their own fruits and vegetables.
"We don't know where all this will lead us, there is a mixture of stress and excitement. One thing is certain, we want to see Urban Cuisine grow and continue the adventure. "