By Swikar Oli
Freshii CEO Matthew Corrin came to Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) for a free talk that saw over 40 of Ryerson’s students interested in business.
Before the students sat for the 90-minute talk, they milled around the lobby with health-conscious chips and carefully dissected Freshii wraps that revealed greens like romaine, celery, spinach and kale, some sprouts, quinoa and beet slaws.
Many of them awaited Corrin in button-downs or high heels, who came in wearing a letterman jacket with a fat ‘F’ on its left breast and blue jeans that looked molded onto him.
By all indications, Corrin was a speaker for young business students. At 23, he opened his first Freshii, though he was quick to thank his parent’s generous quarter-million dollar thrust to open his first store. Now ten years in, he’s seen a lot of success.
Freshii boasts three store openings a week, reaching 70 cities in 15 countries. By this time next year, Freshii wants to add 400 more restaurants.
Corrin had advice for students like Eric Danelon, a first-year business management student who came without a business idea but hoped to hear “inspiring stuff.” To find his own idea, Corrin asked himself what he really cared about–healthy foods– and “executed.”
As a young “punk” working around the Bay street business brass at the TD Center, Corrin says he was approached by bankers, executives and “private enterprise guys and girls” who would tell him “I was gonna start this exact concept,” or “I was working on this,” and Corrin would think “but you didn’t, you’re talking about doing it.”
Corrin doesn’t stick to the idea stage. He doesn’t keep a boardroom because those ideas stay there six months — much longer than he’d like.
“We’d rather be executing and not always being right than sitting in a boardroom and wondering whether we should even test it in the first place,” Corrin said. It’s the approach that he attributes to Freshii’s rapid rise.
Emily Hunter, a first-year graduate health science major, was among the crowd’s adroit note takers. She wants her own cookbook, inspired by her education in nutrition, and a web series for which she’s already filmed a few episodes. Corrin’s speech made her consider her being stuck in the idea stage. “I guess sometimes I get ideas about things that I want to launch, but it’s difficult to put it into practice.”
“Work your hardest,” Danelon summed up after the speech. Hunter was struck by Corrin’s urge for execution .
“He’s a pretty cut-throat businessman, so I need a little bit of that,” she laughingly said. Realize the idea and grow your business with your profit, “just don’t let your bank account go to zero,” Corrin said.