Start to Finish: What Inspires Execs | September 2014 | By Sam Oches

Start to Finish: Matthew Corrin

Founder & CEO of Freshii
Health and wellness restaurant CEO shares his history in starting nutritious brand.
Matthew Corrin, center, surrounded by Freshii employees. Freshii

I worked in the fashion business, so I became super focused and super aware of the importance of health and wellness and looking great in front of cameras through my first job out of college. And I basically surrounded myself with a bunch of these mom-and-pop delis in Manhattan that were catering to fashionistas and designers, and became a customer of many of these fresh food bars that, while they had very fresh healthy food, they had really dull branding and really lackluster service. There really were no places that catered to convenient, affordable, healthy eating.

What I wanted to do was eliminate the excuse that people couldn’t eat well because they either couldn’t afford to or it wasn’t convenient. I’m really proud of the fact that we’re helping people to live healthier lives. These success stories are things you would see out of a Jenny Craig commercial. We’re not diet food; we’re just healthy, clean food. On the other hand, because we’ve grown through a franchise model, it’s just incredibly inspiring to see what’s now about 70 partners among us, and we’re adding three new franchise partners a week.

Let me be clear: You will never see me start another restaurant besides Freshii. Sure, by virtue of Freshii, I’m in the restaurant business, but I’m not a restaurateur; I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a creator, and somebody who is passionate about healthy living. My canvas is the Freshii brand.

I was 23 when I started, and I was able to convince my parents to give me enough money to open up my very first location. Then from there it was up to me, and I was able to convince the banks to give me small-business loans, able to convince the customers to give me $1 million to open a bunch more locations, and I was able to convince 75 and growing franchise partners to come in and invest alongside me and our brand. Those types of things drive me.

Really, the focus from day one has been to build something that’s scalable and also global. If we reach our mission, then we think there could be tens of thousands of locations around the world, and that will then help people live healthier lives. And that’s pretty cool.

What was your first job?

When I was 16 years old I launched a guide to hockey arenas in Winnipeg, Canada, aptly named "Rink Routes." We sold several thousand copies and covered product costs by selling ad space to local restaurants.

When did you first enter the quick-service industry?

I was 23 years old. The first day Freshii opened was the first day I ever worked in the restaurant business. If I could have done it all over again, I would have taken a job at Starbucks for six months.

What is your favorite dish at Freshii?

I'm into our new falafel with kale, beet salad, tahini dressing, and sriracha.

What is your favorite restaurant or type of food (excluding Freshii)?

Sushi and any other raw fish.

What are some of your interests outside of the business?

Running, mountain biking, spending time with my two daughters (ages six and three).

Who are some leaders that inspire you?

Fred Deluca (Subway founder/owner) has been kind to me and someone I admire greatly. His vision in the 1960s, when he launched Subway to be a fresh solution to fast food, has parallels to what Freshii represents today as an evolution to the fast-casual industry. We are creating a new segment called "health casual."

What is the best piece of advice quick-serve executives should hear?

One store can't make you, and one store can't break you.


I feel terrible sad for the franchisees

lets go freshii , beat the junk food !

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