Adlane Draou, fondatore e CEO del Madvision Group, è un imprenditore seriale che ha avuto un impatto significativo nel settore dei Quick Service Restaurant (QSR). Madvision Group gestisce quattro famosi marchi QSR: O’tacos, Go Fish!, Chick & Cheez e Gong Cha.
Adlane ci racconta il suo percorso fino ad oggi, cominciando con la sua decisione precoce di diventare imprenditore. Appassionato di sviluppo, Adlane Draou ha fatto del Madvision Group l’astro nascente nel mondo del fast food. Nella sua intervista con FRANCHISEBIZ condivide i suoi pensieri in merito al suo percorso professionale, ci parla della filosofia alla base di Madvision e dei suoi piani futuri per l’azienda.
Buongiorno Adlane. È un piacere averti qui con noi. Per cominciare puoi parlarci del tuo percorso professionale e come sei diventato imprenditore seriale?
Good to meet you too and sure! So, for some context, I grew up in the small city of Mons in Belgium. My Grandfather came there from Algeria and worked as a coalminer. My parents didn’t want that life for me and so I was raised with the mentality that if you want success, you need a University diploma and to follow a traditional career path. At that time, I never saw any entrepreneurs so apart from small shopkeepers, there weren’t any visible role models for me.
I was actually very bad in school and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to go to Miami to learn English – an opportunity I jumped at, although I spent a lot of time enjoying myself there! The American mentality was very different: every other person seemed to be an entrepreneur and it dawned on me that this was 100% what I wanted to do. I returned to Belgium fully of energy, wanting to take risks.
I made a deal with my Dad. He said to me “As long as you go to Uni first, then you can do what you what!”
So I studied hard, taking corporate finance at Uni and then went to spend time in The Congo, an old Belgian colony so there were lots of relatives and contacts and a big network I integrated with there. I stayed there and started a business and despite pressure from my parents to work for someone else, I was really craving the entrepreneurial life!
My first business was in timber, selling wood to wholesalers in Belgium. It grew well but I wanted to move back to Belgium, so I was always on the lookout for something to bring me back.
Ultimately business development is what thrills me, regardless of the industry. I was initially introduced to an opportunity with O’Tacos by my accountant, just when the brand was starting out. Now it has 400 shops, but back then there were only 30. It went crazy, very quickly, exploding in popularity!
I didn’t know anything about QSR back then, but I saw huge potential and decided to buy into the company, along with my girlfriend and my business partner, which meant I had a reason to come back from Congo. Lots of people told us we were crazy, but we did it anyway! We started out with just one shop in that year and that was great, but I wanted to grow quickly. I was held back by a VC company who blocked development, so instead we focused on learning how to operate and grow that one location.
We continued to look for ways to expand and grow because being a franchisee was great but I wanted to become a master franchisee. So we boot strapped everything, growing it ourselves without VC investment and we succeeded. We remain the biggest franchise owners with 8 shops even today. We did this by really understanding how to run an efficient operation and by building strong relationships around us.
From there, we then took on Chick & Cheez to help us expand. Then we found Gong Cha, a huge brand with 2,000 stores. We developed good PR, a strong reputation and were finally seen to be legitimate, which resulted in us signing Gong Cha for Belgium. I wanted to expand of course, but Belgium is a small market, so I had my eyes on France and focused my energy on building trust and credibility. They saw how well we work, so we won trust, showed how well we understand the market and have what it takes to succeed, despite not having the same financial means as the big boys!
What’s behind the name Madvision?
Creating a company out of nothing is behind the name! It’s a mad vision, but it’s working!
How do you select the brands that sit within the Madvision group and what makes them special?
The way we select now is that we consider their potential for international growth and widespread recognition. We aspire to have brands with products that can be sold anywhere and have a universal appeal. While the quality of the product is essential, the brand has got to be scalable. We also focus on minimizing environmental impact so we are seeking brands with low energy consumption, especially given current energy prices. By seeking out brands that align with our vision and values, we can build a diverse portfolio that appeals to a broad customer base.
What are your plans for the group in the next 12 months?
Madvision is just the beginning but for the next five years that’s my focus. We want to develop buzz! We have 20 shops now and want to get to 50 in the next 12 months, opening at least two other countries, with the next focus being France. We are moving in the right direction, exploring some other markets as well. I can’t disclose specific locations at this time, but we are determined to prove ourselves and establish a strong presence everywhere we go!
What are your long-term ambitions for the brand?
We are ambitious and our long-term plan is to become one of the largest players in the European QSR market. What sets us apart from our competitors is our bottom-up growth approach. While established players rely on significant cash injections and rapid scaling, we focus on understanding the market from the ground up. Our expertise in franchising, coupled with our deep market knowledge, allows us to make informed decisions and build trust with our partners. We have enormous potential and our goal is to become a unicorn in the industry through a hypergrowth strategy using our franchise model.
Operating in the QSR industry, what do you think are the biggest opportunities in this sector and what do you see as the biggest challenges?
It’s a people-oriented industry and after COVID, something changed in many individuals. They now seek purpose in the companies they work for, desiring meaning or opting not to work at all. I don’t judge people for this, but it’s a reality we must confront.
While recruiting is relatively easy for us as a rapidly expanding company, creating purpose in this industry is challenging. It’s a tiring, fast-paced environment with late nights and pressure. We are actively working on finding solutions because wages are a large proportion of our costs and staff turnover is a significant challenge.
What kind of franchise partners are you seeking?
We are looking for more than just experience in the QSR industry; we want individuals who are genuinely enthusiastic and actively involved in the project. Some people have money but don’t want to be especially involved but with what we are building, it’s crucial that all our shops are well-run and well-managed. It’s not sufficient to recruit franchisees based solely on financial capability. We appreciate franchisees who ask a lot of questions and genuinely care about the details. In my experience, those who handle negotiations well generally make good franchisees!
What is unique about the way you support franchisees and what advice would you give to anyone considering becoming a franchisee with one of the Madvision brands?
In terms of advice, finding and being positioned in a good location is essential to start with, but people need to take ownership and protect the brand. I would advise they are always hands on, they manage their shop and really focus on it. Problems can arise when you’re not there, so it’s crucial to be attentive, proactive and identify issues before they escalate.
Where we stand out is that we are also franchisees ourselves, so we have extensive hands-on experience, allowing us to see things from both perspectives. Unlike some franchises, we aren’t just a brand giving instructions out centrally – we live and breathe what we do!
We understand you are just about to travel to France to launch a new Gong Cha location there, so we’ll let you get going! Thanks for your time and good luck!
Yes, I’ve got to catch a train to Paris – it’s an exciting time for us – thank you and goodbye FRANCHISEBIZ!
If you’re inspired by our interview with Adlane and you’d like to explore franchise opportunities in the QSR industry, please get in touch with us for a chat today!
Marketing & Business Development