Turning Health Into Wealth
How one man wants to change the way you eat
We all have dreams but not everyone has the courage to follow them. Alexis Bauduin is no such person.
Alexis Bauduin first burst onto the entrepreneurial scene as the third runner-up on The Apprentice Asia with Tony Fernandes in 2013. After his brief celebrity stint on the reality show, he left his job as the Asia-Pacific Director for leading liquor brand Grand Marnier, and went on to work as the Head of Business Development for Tony Fernandes’ Caterham Group. It was there where he experienced the hybrid of both the corporate and entrepreneurial world for two years before finally venturing out on his own and kickstarting his own business - YOLO.
We sit down with Alexis Bauduin, to talk about his new venture; healthy fast food outlet (YOLO) and uncover his dream of bringing delicious yet nutricious food to the masses.
What gave you the idea to revolutionise healthy food?
It all started when I landed myself in the hospital due to work exhaustion and terrible eating habits. The health scare woke me up and made me realise I needed to become more conscious about my diet and lifestyle. This was not as easy as I thought it would be, as I was faced with the conundrum of desperately wanting to eat healthy, yet the options available around me were unbelievably boring, tasteless and unappetising to me. I kept thinking that there surely had to be more to food that was good for you than just salad.
That’s when the light bulb went off in my head and I started to think of ways that healthy food could be made more desirable to the masses, both in terms of taste as well as marketing. How people are eating now and how they will eat in ten years is going to be vastly different and I wanted to be the one driving that change.
What gave you the courage to finally take the plunge into the F&B Industry?
I sat on this idea for two whole years before I finally took the leap into starting my restaurant. My family thought it was ludicrous that I would leave the comforts and financial security of the lucrative career I had with Tony Fernandes but I just had to do it. If I had stayed in the corporate world the rest of my life, I would have looked back years later thinking, what if. I want to be that guy that had an idea he really believed in and actualised it. I had complete confidence in my concept and used my energy and drive to propel myself headfirst into the deep end.
I chose to come to Singapore because I had a few business partners here and it has to be one of the toughest F&B markets in the world. So if I made it here, it would be much easier to franchise and expand into other markets. I live for challenges and the Singapore market was a huge one I wanted to conquer, especially since it is still a bit behind in terms of nutritious food.
Having no prior experience in the F&B industry, what were some of the main challenges you had to overcome?
The main challenge was getting started. Starting a new company and brand with zero experience in the industry, I had to do everything from operations to staffing. Inevitably, we had a few operational issues in the first few months and the food just wasn’t coming out fast enough. So then I spent the next few months cooking, fine-tuning the menu and being involved in every part of the floor operations. Some people would recognise me from my minor celebrity stint on the Apprentice and ask what happened to me. Despite that, I trusted my instincts and common sense to guide me.
On top of this, it was also a challenge to create the work culture and brand I had envisioned. How do you set a company culture and brand that others can understand and stand behind? To achieve this, I wanted to immerse my staff in the healthy lifestyle and concept they were unfamiliar with and get them to appreciate it. I invested time into forming strong relationships with my employees by holding numerous company events, highlighting to them what the company stands for and that every job matters. I always strive to create an environment where individuals feel that their job is essential and makes an impact. This way work productivity increases and hopefully they stay on longer.