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Alice Couderc, Atome Bakery, Vancouver

Vancouver
WeBC June 11, 2024

Alice Couderc’s career began in France, where her passion for entrepreneurship led her to study business and work in private equity consulting. However, seeking a change from the demanding hours, she moved to Canada, where she explored various roles in the food and tech industry. Far away from the bakeries of France,  Alice and her partner Lucas Navilloz found themselves craving fresh artisanal bread, so they decided to begin baking their own. As demand for their bread grew among friends and strangers alike, their hobby transformed into Atome Bakery, blending Alice’s entrepreneurial passion with a taste of home.

Atome Bakery provides a unique bread and pastry delivery service, allowing customers to customize their pastry box or select from curated options. Their signature bread is delivered frozen and ready to bake in a specially designed Atome Pan, which replicates the baking environment of a professional oven. This innovative approach preserves the authenticity of artisanal bread, ensuring both convenience and exceptional taste and texture.

Alice’s journey with WeBC began when her mentor introduced her to the organization. Under her mentor’s guidance, Alice applied to WeBC’s loan program to support her company’s expansion into the U.S. With plans to scale up operations across the border, Alice outlined a strategy that involved investing in resources such as packaging materials, equipment upgrades, and expanding storage facilities. She was granted the loan and used WeBC’s financial support to pursue her goals of reaching new markets and replicating her successful business model in the U.S.

The loan from WeBC was more than just financial support for Alice’s business, it was a boost that allowed her to pursue her dreams of expansion, enabling her to seize new opportunities and move forward with confidence.

Client Q&A

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Atome Bakery?

A: If you’ve ever been to France, you know there is a bakery on every street. When my partner Lucas and I moved to Canada, our bread consumption had to change. The bread we found in supermarkets here were full of additives and sugar, and we were missing that taste from our childhood, so we decided to start baking.

Through trial and error, we experimented with freezing bread so we could have the convenience of fresh bread every day without the hassle or compromising on the quality. We even crafted a pan that helps the bread bake at a consistent temperature and humidity level.

From there, we had friends asking to buy our bread, and then people we didn’t know. We set up a simple website where people could place an order and pick it up at a local partner. We quickly outgrew the freezer space, so that’s when we decided to quit our jobs and focus on the business. In the spring of 2023, we switched the model to deliver directly to the customer’s door with a subscription box.

Q: Were you always interested in starting your own business?

A: I went to a Business School in Lyon, which is the capital of gastronomy and I’ve always had a very big passion for food. At school, I specialized in entrepreneurship because I’ve always been very curious about starting my own business. I wanted to make some kind of a difference and leave something behind me.

Having previously worked at La Maison du Chocolat, a chocolate shop, and a side business called Le Bocal Store, specializing in baking mixes packaged in jars, I’ve always had a love for baking. When Atome Bakery took off, we had to make a judgment call and decided to put our energy into making it successful.

Q: Can you share your experience with WeBC’s loan program?

I was taking a program called “Scale Up” which focuses on scaling up a business and building a business plan with WeBC’s partner organization, PARO and Farm Food Drink. I was assigned to a counsellor at the time, named Deborah, who is also part of the WeBC team. She was the one who shared the loan program and WeBC’s services.

When it was time for us to take out debt, I was looking at anything available for entrepreneurs. I loved that WeBC supports female entrepreneurs because we’re more than 50% women-owned. We were able to access a loan from WeBC and a loan from the WEOC Loan Program.

It was a lot of back and forth to get to the loan, and WeBC was supportive along the way. We were granted the loan and plan to use it to expand into the United States.

Q: What were the specific challenges you faced that the loan helped you overcome?

Our next move is expanding in the U.S., so we need cash flow to be able to buy more packaging in bulk and to ship our orders across the border.

One good thing about our business model is that we get the payment before we ship the product, but we still need to get ingredients, extra pans, and additional machinery like vacuum sealing. We’re also hoping to upgrade our freezer to have a better space to store all of the products.

Q: What are your future plans for Atome Bakery?

Our goal is to get 100 customers in the state of Washington and Portland, OR before the end of June. Once we’ve proven we can replicate the B.C. model in another state, we want to use the momentum and open in the rest of Oregon and California by Q4 of this year.

We’re also planning to raise a seed fund later this year, so if there are any investors out there they can reach out!

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Atome Bakery recently won the La Palme Bleue award for Enterprise of the Year, presented by the Vancouver Francophone Chamber of Commerce and they have been recognized as a local business making a significant impact on the Francophone community. Congrats to Alice and her team!

https://atomebakery.com

About WeBC

WeBC is a not-for-profit that has been supporting women business owners across the province for over 25 years. Working with our regional partners, we’ve provided thousands of entrepreneurs with business loans and expertise, training, resources, and peer network support to help businesses grow and thrive.

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