Company’s culture: can Michel & Augustin survive Danone?

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michel et augustin company cultureI heard Michel et Augustin, the French-pastry makers tell their story yesterday at a French Founder gathering in NYC. The meeting was hosted by Try The World a start-up offering subscription Gourmet Food Box.

I find it incredible how they started cooking in Augustin’s kitchen and are now distributed by Starbucks and on Delta Airlines. It is amazing how these two ESEC alumni crafted such a brand and such a solide culture: Employees are “Trublions” (trouble makers) working in “Bananeraies” (banana farm) and cooking pastries from the very best ingredients.

Yet, Augustin said he knows nothing about marketing yet he has built a strong brand a company culture and a massive online tribe of supporters. Their marketing is their story. The brand is themselves, he says. Their packaging, designed in the very early days by a young designer for €100, tells it all.

Michel et augustin culture Augustin was clear: “For many companies their limit is their CEO. One must recognized when it is time to go,” he said, quickly adding that he feels he still has much to bring to his company.

However, I fear this culture is going to be lost soon.

Yesterday in Manhattan two VPs from Danone were there too. Danone has recently invested massively in the company and now owns 40% of the cookie and yogurt maker. Laurent Marcel, Managing Director, Danone Manifesto Ventures wanted to be reassuring. He insisted on the synergies between the two companies and how Danone had to learn from the unconventional Michel et Augustin.

One may wonder however, how Danone, the health conscious firm, will manage the sugar loaded Michel & Augustin’s products and how, on their side, the small pastry company will remain the « trublions » they like to be and will preserve their culture.

I will monitor this fascinating brand and culture story in the coming months, stay tuned.

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