Felix & La Ruche qui dit Oui!
Backing a vision to create a better way to eat
We are very pleased to announce that Felix Capital has co-led an investment in La Ruche Qui Dit Oui (“La Ruche”), a great illustration of the entrepreneurs and companies we ambition to back at Felix. La Ruche is a marketplace that connects farmers to people who want fresh food, directly from the farm to their kitchen. La Ruche started in France and is gradually expanding into neighbouring countries, as the network-effect of the marketplace kicks in.
A start-up focused on its community
While our firm is very recent, our interest for La Ruche (which translates as “The hive that says yes” or “Food Assembly” as it’s known as in the UK) goes back a few years. In Spring 2012, I registered to La Ruche when I heard they were launching in Nice, my home town in France. I was struck but the concept and was curious to understand it better. I kept on receiving their newsletters, describing with love and passion the various types of bread, meat, vegetables, fruits or cheese that were on sale, depending on the season. A few years later, as I was forming Felix Capital, a new Venture Capital firm focused on creativity, we had the company high on a list of target investments for the fund, in line with our vision. I reconnected with the company, thanks to my brother who knew one of the founders (thanks Thibaut for the introduction to Marc-David!). With limited resources, the company had grown tremendously and proven that its model of connecting local food producers to customers through a network of Ruches was working well. They charge a small commission on each transaction and share it equally with the manager of each Ruche. Within a few years La Ruche has built a growing business and thriving community with over 100,000 active customers, 4,500 local producers, over 700 “Ruches” and 70 employees operating in six countries.
To understand La Ruche’s DNA and potential, one has to experience food shopping at one of the many “Ruches”. They operate a bit like a “pop-up” farmers market, powered by technology, enabling consumers to collect a fresh food order once a week from the farmers at a specific location. The best part is to watch how farmers and consumers connect, chat, debate and build relationships way beyond the usual transactional shopping experience. My family are customers in France and we were struck by the sense of community of each Ruche, creating a lively forum with many opportunities for human connections between passionate local farmers who really care about their products and local customers who make an effort to shop local, healthy food via La Ruche’s platform. They are all part of a community, an assembly, or a “Ruche” (my favourite term).
A perfect illustration of what Felix Capital is about
At Felix, we look at opportunities through a simple lens (as explained here). We love businesses that are using technology to have a positive impact on the world and help people have a better life. We want to back companies with a mission, with authenticity, with ambitious goals and particularly the ambition to do good things to their community of users. Community is at the heart of La Ruche, as it connects neighbours to farmers, neighbours to each other, and everyone to their food. La Ruche matches both our investment focus (our themes around creativity, marketplaces, brands), our investment criteria as we seek unique models, with strong teams and the opportunity to grow internationally, ideally globally. At Felix we love food in general and in particular local healthy food from street markets. We are really happy to be able to mix that passion with the investment in La Ruche, with a capital-efficient, proven model that has the potential to scale tremendously.
A great team of investors aligned with La Ruche’s founders & vision
We believe that LaRuche has this potential and we will work alongside co-founders Guilhelm Chéron and Marc-David Chroukroun, and a great group of investors aligned with their vision (a key point as per our “Manifesto”). We are fortunate to be able to team up with Fred Wilson and the team at Union Square Ventures (USV). In our fund raising deck with have a slide showing “what we want to be when we grow up”, and we illustrated this with a couple of firms including USV, a small, collegial partnership with disciplined amounts under management, a clear strategy and an outstanding track-record. Fred was kind enough to give us some advice when we were starting Felix (thank you Fred) and we will certainly learn a lot working along side USV at La Ruche. In addition we are teaming up with the X-Ange team who backed Guilhelm and Marc-David’s vision very early, and continue to do so, and with Aymeric and Eric at Quadia, who bring deep experience in socially-conscious investing and food in particular.
We have met many startups over the years, but few with such a clarity of purpose as La Ruche. It’s still very early in their journey but La Ruche’s founders have a very clear and big vision: “The Food Assembly’s vision is to create a better way to eat, where everyone has access to the pleasure of local food, and is connected to the people who make it”. It’s worth reading their mission and values statement on https://laruchequiditoui.fr/en/p/missions-and-values. We are particularly fond of their focus on creativity, a way to “design new solutions to the challenging problems facing food production”. We are delighted to be part of the journey and will work hard to support the team, helping turn their vision into reality.