“After four years as a consultant in Paris, I now make kombucha in the Basque Country”

“I am very sensitive to environmental causes. I often listen to reports by Jean-Marc Jankovici, an energy and climate engineer and astrophysicist Aurélien Barrault, read IPCC reports, eat almost no meat, try to eat as much organic and seasonal food as possible, fly as little as possible…

In 2020, I begin to seriously question myself about the meaning of my profession. I tell myself that this could be more in line with my environmental beliefs. At the time, I had been working since 2017 at Nova Consulting, a consulting firm in Paris.

Logical sequence: advice, good salary

I chose this path after completing my master’s degree at EM Lyon because it seemed like a logical extension of my course. I, like many of my comrades: I choose consulting or finance, with the key to vacancies and a good salary.

The daily pace is quite intense, we often finish late at night. But I’m learning a lot, nice atmosphere, close-knit team, and I have very good friends. I support two main clients: a dairy group that wants to find growth in new markets in Asia, and an automaker that I advise to sell more new cars, especially SUVs.

Market with potential

During my time at this firm, I became very close friends with Grégoire Collet-Mozhajsky, a colleague who left the company in 2020. He and his friend Clément Lemoine, who met while studying at Audencia, began making kombucha for personal consumption. . This effervescent and tangy drink is the result of a fermentation process and consists of tea, sugar, filtered water and a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria.

Clement is a big culinary enthusiast: after training, getting a master’s degree from a business school and some experience in start-ups, he retrained by taking a CAP in culinary. At the time, he was a chef at the Garance gourmet restaurant in Paris.

Once Gregoire made me try their drink. I don’t know at all and am pleasantly surprised by these fragrances. Since we’ve been talking about doing business together for a while now, I’ve researched the market… and found that it has real potential! Kombucha can be drunk to improve the taste of a dish, dessert, not wine. It has a refreshing side, perfect for summer or after sports. Not very sweet and slightly sour, it can also be used in cocktails. In addition to taste, it has interesting health properties, particularly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

We think the three of us could put our skills to good use in a project that brings together our passions: enjoyment, well-being and sustainability. We ended up taking the plunge by establishing our Datxa company at the end of 2021. In order to dedicate myself to this activity, at the beginning of 2022, I left the consulting firm where I had worked for more than four years.

Get to know the drink

Goodbye Paris, we’re putting 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 homecoming for Gregoire and me, who have roots there.

From now on, Clément is responsible for production and research and development, while Gregoire deals with commercial aspects and completes a CAP in culinary. As for me, I work more on marketing and financing. Rent a room 160 m2 in the industrial area in Anglet, near Biarritz, where we carry out all production: maceration, fermentation, bottling, labeling, etc.

Our activity is a challenge because kombucha is still unknown in France. You have to convince those who don’t know to try it… but also those who have drunk it in the past and didn’t like it, because tastes vary a lot from one manufacturer to another!

In our flavored kombuchas, we try to make the most of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the region: rhubarb, fig leaf, black currant leaf, citrus… As for our teas, they are mainly sourced from China and India. We understand that this is not optimal in terms of carbon footprint, but, unfortunately, this quality of tea is not available in closer countries. We still offer 100% local kombucha, buckwheat from the Lot and Garonne, and all of our drinks are organic.

Increase production to earn money

Since February 2022, the month we launched our first bottles, our drinks have been sold in local markets and on the menu of some thirty bars and restaurants in the region. Goals by the end of the year: Launch our e-commerce website for individuals and sell our products throughout France, in grocery and organic stores.

We are not paying salaries yet. If we can devote ourselves to this activity, it is thanks to our unemployment benefit, because the three of us won the termination of the contract. To live off our project, we need to win market share and increase production. Due to lack of materials, the installation at our premises has been delayed, but this summer we will be able to increase production from 4,500 bottles per month to 10,000.

Our days are busy, but we appreciate the opportunity to organize ourselves the way we see fit. You can set aside time for hiking or surfing if you see good waves in the morning and finish later in the evening.

I have no regrets about my counseling experience. This allowed me to learn a lot, and I think it gave us credibility with our interlocutors, in particular with our bank.

Dacha, dream

We would like to hire at least three people on permanent contracts over the next three years for the commercial and administrative parts. This would free up time for us to diversify, in particular to launch other fermentation-related projects, as well as zero-waste kombucha made from ginger and lemon peels.

Our dreams ? Get a big house, our dacha (from Russian – country house), in the outback, where we will set up our laboratory. On land, we could grow fruits and vegetables that would be used to make kombucha. And open a beautiful table and guest rooms! »

Mark

If you also have a beautiful (or less beautiful) story, feel free to contact us: [email protected]