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Son & Dad Duo Changing the Gourmet Food Industry!

Interview with Varun Sharma, Co-Founder of Laumière Gourmet Fruits

Interview with Varun Sharma, Co-Founder of Laumière Gourmet Fruits

Tell us about your business. What do you do?

Laumière Gourmet Fruits is a family-run, California based business inspired by the vision to bring luxurious, naturally produced dried fruits to the public, not just as a flavorful delight but to shine a light on health and wellness. The company is mystifying the unique connection between luxury and nature in an undeniable quest to blend gourmet excellence with a healthy lifestyle. It strives to curate premium artisan dried fruit-based products and delve deeper into the healthy premium food segment. Laumière’s collections are 100% natural and with no added preservatives, refined sugar, or additives. I primarily focus on advancing our digital platforms and growing the e-commerce presence. A year in, we are retailing to over 6,000 customers across the USA and Canada. I also enjoy mentoring new entrepreneurs on kick-starting their digital businesses and digital transformation journey.

What is your startup’s origin story?

The idea behind Laumière was born when my dad and partner, Vivek Sharma was in Paris and envisioned how the gourmet food industry would evolve and came up with the idea of Laumière. He spent close to 5 years perfecting his idea and when it was time to get it going; I got involved, and we slowly scaled a company that is primarily retailing online. He spent 20+ years in Dubai and then moved to the USA to launch Laumière Gourmet Fruits. I am just here to help him out and build a brand that leaves a legacy. At the same time, I am learning about the complexities of leading a meaningful life. I do not have all the answers–but I feel strongly that progress with Laumière will help me answer them.

Had you been involved in the industry before this startup? What is your background?

I love technology. I love the potential it has and have always been fascinated by it. I have spent most of my life in Dubai, and the city gave me a myriad of opportunities to grow as a person and dream out of the box simultaneously. As a person with an avid interest in technology, I care about the future of the planet and am committed to make it a better place but I believe my intentions aren’t enough to do that. I need to work on projects and ideas which align with that. My first full-time job was a Consulting role where I consulted and implemented large-scale digital transformation projects. Consulting helped me understand the transformational power that planning a project with a clear goal can have and at times be one of the significant reasons behind a project’s success or its lack thereof. In the past few years, the common denominator has been my intrinsic want to take risks which helped me learn from different individuals and nurture others in the process of my self-growth. Rising together as a team, organization, and community — brings me deep satisfaction and joy. The personal connection I build with people during the journey adds to the excitement and has played a pivotal role in who I am today.

What’s unique about your company? What are the key differentiators between you and other players?

Magnifying on international flavors and emphasizing on luxury, our mission is to bring these divine creations right to your doorstep. Above all, we value honesty and transparency as food professionals. We want to share these eloquent contributions with the world as a present that will offer ground-breaking gourmet creations. What makes us unique is:

  • All-Natural Products: Handcrafted and embracing a more natural appeal, Laumière embarks on presenting what nature can bring to the industry. Preservative-free with zero chemicals, we believe in producing freshly made fruit variants that are distinguishable from the products available out there.
  • Highest Quality Ingredients: Sourced from the highest quality sources, we have come up with a growth formula that brings quality to the forefront of the fruit industry. Our products are sourced locally, delivering a range that is significantly packed with distinct flavors.
  • Premium Gifting Made Healthy: With an assortment of fanciful fruits that are positively radiant, it’s time to throw out the dull and sugar-filled gift options. Impress family, friends, and loved ones with these delightful treats as unconventional luxurious presents. Make a statement in any season of giving with these beautifully curated and healthy fruit arrangements.

Take us through a day in your life. What does the typical day look like?

I set my alarm for 5:40 AM. When the (first) alarm goes off I do, on most days, immediately get up. Some days the urge to stay in bed is higher than waking up and starting my day. This is followed by a gym routine.

Once done with the gym I sometimes open a book and read but mostly listen to an audiobook or podcast episode. I avoid reading anything in my industry and allow this quiet time to be truly mine. I prefer books on personal growth, leadership, business, and fiction.

I start my work at 9 AM even though I work mostly from Dubai, I tend to work from home and get most of my tasks going unless work requires me to meet someone. The next thing I know it’s 5 PM and I wrap up my daily tasks. Most days this includes taking to the global team to plan for the day, week, and month ahead.

Following that, I take a break and jump back on the calls at 8 PM with the USA team who are just starting their day. Calls go on till 10 PM following which I get back to bed and get grinding the next morning again.

What has been the most challenging part of growing your company?

If having a great product is the first ingredient to success, building a customer-centric culture, and caring about your users is definitely the second. As your product gains traction, it’s always critical to assess the level of customer support you can give. Build a company where everyone truly understands their customers and what they’re getting out of the product, every step of the way. This is something which has taken me time to learn and I am learning even today but has definitely been challenging.

What has been your best marketing channel? What are some channels you are looking to explore next?

We are currently heavily invested on Facebook, Google and have been trying Bing lately. I am looking at exploring TikTok possibly early next year.

What apps do you use that you would recommend to others?

  • Shopify: The app tells us what’s going on our web store
  • Amazon: The app tells us about our sales on Amazon
  • Trello: For internal tasks management we use Trello
  • Slack: We use this communication with multiple teams that we work with globally.

Do you have a book, podcast, or Youtube channel you would recommend to other Entrepreneurs?

3 books I would like to recommend are:

  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss — This book makes you realize how important negotiation is in your everyday life as an entrepreneur. It reminds you that negotiation is a practice. You will be best aided by these books by taking a chapter at a time and practicing the ideas and techniques. Practice them on your family, on your colleagues, and on your friends to make the most out of it.
  • Pour your Heart into it by Howard Schulz — As an entrepreneur, I am truly inspired by Schulz. This book is basically Schultz’s memoir, a major part of which includes Starbucks. It’s very well written, in fact quite straightforward. He was setting up Starbucks ground when everyone wanted to focus more on tech-based startups. He showed his perseverance in his journey and it has truly mesmerized me. Schultz, nevertheless, is very inspiring and this book is surely worth a read.
  • High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil: I am currently reading this and it’s basically a checklist of areas that a first-time cofounder should focus on. A collection of interviews with people who started, invested in, and scaled up companies. Probably the best way to learn. Elad’s skillful way of making choices truly makes it relatable. I see this book as a must-read for founders, engineers, and product owners for the insight it gives to all the other functions needed to make your idea really work.

If you could go back in time to the day you founded your company, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to take time but it will happen.

What’s something you’ve learned from building your business that someone else can learn from?

Build that relationship with the customer. Do not undermine it. It will either make or break your business.

Interview with Varun Sharma, Co-Founder of Laumière Gourmet Fruits

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