Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Breaking New: Whole Foods Market launched in London

According to one of my friends who accompanied us prices in Whole Foods Market are not that high and comparable to a Waitrose.

I was very excited by the prospect of going to my first store launch. This is a unique occasion to mix with famous (or wannabe famous) people as well as stuff yourself of gorgeous free food up to the nose.

The Whole Foods Market launch did not disappoint. I saw a few famous people (for instance, one of the chaps that went on the Apprentice was there). The crowd was a mixed of analysts (food and financial), journalists, writers and of course the wannabe famous. Obviously there were a few lost members of the public who must have befriended one of the higher class listed previously.

Gorgeous free food was handed out or to pick up. We even got a free goodies bag at the end. The queues for the serious sections were quite long even later after the start. Needless to say - most of the food from the freely available display had long disappeared. Lesson to learn: get there first!

The Whole Foods Market store layout is quite surprising with the main food section downstairs (you take the escalator as does your little trolley) They have a bulk section which provide lots of cereal, nuts and also fresh peanut butter .... in bulk, how healthy can this be? You will also find downstairs a health section with product names I have never heard off and functions I could not understand. Whole Foods Market also has invested in a health treatment boutique with trained staff ready to pin point all your physical deficiencies and hopefully make them all disappear in a wink of an eye.

On the main floor, fresh food such as cheeses and wines is available as well as vegetables and fruits. There is also fresh fish in abundance. You can find lots of different bread made locally. I suppose that counts for your daily allowance of fresh fruit and vegetables. You could buy the ingredients for your lunch picnic here every single day and not get an inch on your belt! Joking ;-)

Upstairs you will find proper food bars with seats and tables as well as a proper bar you know with booze (not just carrot juice). For instance Whole Foods Market have a great ice cream section which lots to choose from. Also the meat section is fabulous with great roasted meat to make up a fantastic sandwich. Of course they have to sell Japanese food, thus the expected Sushi bar (every food hall has to have one right?). However to redeem themselves they have a top nosh meze bar to die for.

According to one of my friends who accompanied us prices in Whole Foods Market are not that high and comparable to a Waitrose. However he was prompt to highlight that Waitrose has also high end stores in London who will offer Whole Foods Market a tough resistance. I must say I didn't look too much at the prices myself. I did tried a few wines which were ok for instance a nice little Chardonnay Latour. I also tried a few English cheeses with surprisingly bags of character (I am making reference to a method Camembert cheese).

We followed a little tour - organized by 2 of the lovely and most professional Whole Foods Market staff - sadly only part of the downstairs area was in the tour (they left out the chocolate section!).

What more is there to say? It was a great evening and the Whole Foods Market in the Kensington is truly amazing and provides a fantastic experience for any food lover. I would expect to be a great success!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Who said French were not enterpreneurial!

Is there more people out there pushing the rocking French economy?

It is believed in England that France is a country of want-a-be "functionnaire" dreaming of high paid, guarantied jobs for life. Yeah, that is right, if you are English and want to create a business, you definitely don't think of France (maybe for retirement ;-)). In case you don't know, one of the favorite joke around here goes like this: "Guess why there is no translation for 'business' in French". Well I won't give you the answer, I am sure you found out already.

There is clearly a perception problem here. I worked a year and an half in ILOG - a very successful French IT business - and trust me they didn't get there by being lazy and expecting jobs for life. They are well connected, well educated and hard worker people who created a very successful business in an unhelpful and unhealthy business environment.

As we say in French I take my hat off to all these brave French businessmen and women working hard creating jobs and supporting the French economy. For instance, I was so glad to learn about Loic Le Meur success. He is involved in some of the sharpest new IT firms which I look forward as examples of what I want one day to create, build and manage.

Is there more people out there pushing the rocking French economy? Please come and make yourself known so that I can shut up all these people making fun of the French entrepreneurship.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Are venture capitalists all sharks?

Financing your business is a very strategic decision. It can make or break your business.

Yesterday, I went with my wife in London to attend a presentation at the DLA on how to access finance to grow your business. It was quite enriching as the presentation was actually held by the chairman of several venture capitalist funds.

Although, one could tell from his attire that he was from a different social class from most of the attendees in the room, he was still able to connect with his audience by making the whole story of venture capitalist wanted to help quite believable and appealing by using simple and clear examples.

David McMeekin is the chairman of "The Capital Fund", "London Technology Fund" and "Company Guides". He is a great presenter, very knowledgeable and entertaining. I think that, despite being very realistic about the failure rate of business, he very likely has boosted the confidence of the would be business owners in the room. At least, I felt after the presentation very excited and keen to write my own business plan and apply for finance!

David also illustrated in details the benefits and risks of the 3 main sources of funding for your business being: grant, loan, equity (he also pointed that sales was your best source of finance). I hope that most of the attendees have left the room armed with the right tools and will be able to select appropriately the right type of financing for their business needs.

Financing your business is a very strategic decision. It can make or break your business. Worse than that, if you don't read the small prints, you may loose your properties (whatever it is, house, TV, car, ....). Be aware, very aware.

In conclusion, if I must leave you with one idea, it clearly would be:
Take professional advice!
I wish you all best of luck and great success.

Friday, April 20, 2007

How to protect your personal assets?

As my wife business is starting to take off seriously, she will be raising cash and possibly exposing us to serious financial risk.

The question is therefore how to protect our common assets in case her creditors decide to claim their money while she is not in a position to repay them.

How to you deal with that? How can you prevent creditors to take away your properties?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Do you know how hard it is to start a business?

Well, I do ... now.

After pestering my wife to go and make money, so she did ... create a business.

We have not got through the baby thing yet but if it is half as hard as starting up a business I give up right now! I suggest adopting instead - not that I know how much work is involved in adoption, hopefully I won't need it (ollaaa stop here, I saw that wink, I am not saying we are making babies here ok!).

Thanks to lot of persistence and hardwork, Hazel has finished with the gestation period. The baby business is out and looking rather healthy (see China's Secret Teas).

Although I was not involved with the actual physical work in great extend (however I did take quite a few pictures as any proper dad would, for instance check-out this close-up). I must say I was quite stress and a tad scared, this did put lot of stress on both of us and if you know me and you know how stress I am normally: it was not a good thing at all!

Still, we survived, bobbling along.

It is really hard to understand the amount of pain and suffering it has been though. You would be excused to think that being in UK the setup process would be nice and easy. I am French and in France it is so hard to create a business that nobody dares talking about it anymore (apparently it still appears in some history books), better have a strike or demonstration, it's far easier and much more fun.

In UK, would you believe, it's pretty bad too.

You have the local police - oh pardon I mean the local council - which seems to be paid to get in your way, then there is a certain body starting with a 'B' and an 'L' - supposedly here to help - which actually does not know a great deal about creating businesses as most of the staff are well trained salesmen trying to stuff you some half baked trainings.

But then there is some people that got in their mind, that lending money fairly cheaply to totally unknown strangers supposedly attempting to implement some wacky dream, is a great idea (Actually it is see down below). And there are also people who are willing to offer the most precious commodity in the world: their own time!

Thank you very much to all these generous people who decided to support businesses (including and most importantly my wife's business, oh by the way this is not a wacky business this one, let it grow, you will see). This is one of the most generous and important act you ever took.

Where would be England without all these people? I don't know. I am still trying to comprehend how France ended up in such a depressing state. You know that over there some people still see having a job for life as a birth of right (on what planet were you born you idiot, wake up, the world has moved on).

It makes me so sad to see what happens in France. But I am also proud and respectful of the courageous and adventurous English people attempting to create businesses. This is really hard, possibly nearly as hard as having a baby with twice as less chance to get any reward out of it but for god sake any penny counts go for it! This is our future!

It does not matter if you are a plumber, a secretary or the CEO of a Fortune 500. The only thing that matters: the pennies need to move from hand to hand in exchange of some sort of service or product so that the economy can survive. The faster, the better. Basic common sense.

Keep in mind that you - running these little businesses - are the life blood of the country, not these drama queens in London (or Paris for that matter) ... setting out to write the longest and most boring statement in the hope of buying their seat in history.

So, I am asking from a little hard worker man down the food chain to another one (or a head of a Fortune 500 ... that's ok too) go on China's Secret Teas buy us a little box of this lovely teas. It will pay back, it will pay for your healthcare, it will pay for your kids education (well in parts), it may provide your son a job (eventually when we have moved to a proper office) and it will improve your own health too.

At the end, Hazel has planted a tiny little fragile seed; you can help turning this little seed into a very big oak. Make a difference today, invest in your future or invest in Hazel, she deserves it.

Thank You Very Much

Marco supporting the little Tan - Weiersmuller family.