Portraits

Thimothée Tronet founder of Fresh Burritos

Hailing from Calais, Timothée Tronet was admitted to UTC in 2003. It was when he was doing his university exchange programme with the University of Pennsylvania that he discovered burritos, a typical Mexican dish. Since that period, he has set up the brand Fresh Burritos, www.freshburritos.fr/ that proposes Mexican flavours and tastes for lunch and dinner venues.

Thimothée Tronet founder of Fresh Burritos

After his stay in the USA, Timothée headed for the Argentine for his last semester of course work and his final project. With his UTC diploma in the major specialty in Mechanical Engineering where he was recruited by Kraft Foods, in their marketing, financial and corporate planning departments. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I met a lot of business managers in the Argentine. I decided to come back to France and set up Fresh Burritos. The idea grew and took form after his experience in the USA and the Argentine, where there are many ‘Mexican’ style fast-food outlets – but in France, opportunities were wide open. “Yet, when you think about it, Mexican food comes second in the ethnic food purchases in food-malls, after Japanese products and fast-food outlets have been growing fast over the past decade”, adds Timothée, 28 years old.

The first restaurant in Lille (North France) 

At the time, Timothée was a bachelor and had no children. The ingredients were assembled for a business launch: he returned to France in 2010 and opened his first restaurant a year later in the city of Lille. This was his pilot scheme, enabling tests for numerous modifications. In terms of house decoration, products, etc., Timothée Tronet did not hesitate to make the changes he felt necessary till he was satisfied. Early 2013, he opened his second restaurant in Lille and started looking at the concept of a franchise development. “My first two franchises are now in operation in Valenciennes and Limoges. My objective is to sign 5 to 7 more franchise agreements in 2014. In parallel, I would also like to set up my own restaurants, one each year” details Timothée, perfectly aware that two hurdles lie ahead: to buy or rent the right locations and to collect sufficient financial support.

Mature and crafty 

Timothée is of the opinion that if his basic course in Mechanical Engineering is not directly of use in the restaurant business line, UTC did bring him maturity and self-dependence and a sharp sense of craftiness – if only in the freedom at university he had to choose and build his UTC curricula. “UTC allowed me to travel abroad, without which I would never have had the idea of training in Mexican food. The entrepreneurial management courses I followed at Penn opened my ambitions to do just that. The UTC engineering diploma confers credibility when I’m talking with the bank managers with my project file on their desk before them. Add to this that most of my friends are also UTC graduates”. 

“Move it - forward!” 

Timothée Tronet now employs 13 staff and has two franchised shops with 10 staff. His turnover for 2013 was 1 M€ and his objective is to double or even triple this in the current fiscal year. “You need to be able to choose your collaborators. I thought I was able to do the ‘deco’ myself but to be honest, the results didn’t come up to expectations! So, I called in a decorator to do the job the way I wanted. You have to recognize your weak spots: I’m a good business negotiator and staff manager but communications and PR are not my cup of tea”.
Another piece of advice for graduates who want to create their own business: you must talk openly about your project and not be afraid that someone will steal your ideas. “Discussing matters openly helps test project viability, the way it will be perceived, its relevance in the market-place. Then you must “move it - forward”! You might be tempted to raise and answer a thousand questions, but the right thing to do is to progress from the idea to the real enterprise.” This is exactly what the boss of Fresh Burritos did: his ambition is to open 50 restaurants by 2018!

Bio-Notes:

  • 2003: Admission to UTC; 
  • 2005: Exchange programme with the University of Pennsylvania, USA; 
  • 2007: Exchange programme with the Instituto Tecnologico de Buenos Aires, Argentine; 
  • 2008: Graduated from UTC (major specialty in Mechanical Engineering); 
  • 2008: Recruited by Kraft Foods Latin America in their ‘High Potential Programme’ »; 
  • 2010: France; 
  • 2011: Opening of pilot restaurant Fresh Burritos; 
  • 2013: Start of franchising operations and opening of three new points of sale (POS) two of which are franchised; 
  • 2014: 5 to 7 new franchise signatures envisaged.