One of Canada’s successful international restaurant franchises never had a business plan

There’s a difference between being a small business owner and being an entrepreneur. Arlene Dickinson says small business owners drive for financial independence and prioritize stability over big gains, while for entrepreneurs, the objective isn’t financial security but rather a desire to change the world.

That’s exactly what then-23-year-old Matthew Corrin had in mind when he came up with the idea for Freshii in 2005 — he wanted to make healthy eating convenient and affordable to citizens of the world.

Fast-forward to now, Freshii has become a successful international franchise with locations in 15 countries, and Matthew even became a Next Gen Den Dragon!

In the third episode of Venturing Out, Arlene invites the Freshii founder and CEO to talk about scaling businesses and what it’s like being a successful millennial.

Here are the five things we learned from their chat.

1. Entrepreneurs think big

In order to get their product in the pantry of every kitchen or their app on every mobile phone, Arlene says entrepreneurs will do anything and risk everything to get there. This is what sets them apart from stability-preferring small business owners.

2. You don't always need a business plan 

Well, Matthew never made one when he started Freshii. The purpose of business plans is to propose them to investors and secure funding, he says. But this founder had parents able to give their forward-thinking son a $250,000 loan to start the business.

Even though Freshii doesn’t have a business plan, Matthew says they are driven and guided by their mission: making healthy eating as convenient and affordable for citizens of the world. “We don’t set out to say we’re going to open 1,000 stores or 100 stores,” says Matthew. “If we do our mission… probably over time as long as we execute, there will be thousands of restaurants globally.”

3. The word failure is relative

“I refused to fail, I refused to let my parents down,” says Matthew. “The word failure is relative. My definition is when your bank account goes to zero and you’re out of business.” He also says he benefitted from starting a business at a young age because he was naive to the high failure rates in the restaurant industry. “My lack of experience probably helped me jump through that barrier.”

4. No separation of work and life

Matthew says he lives and breathes a healthy lifestyle. “I am my brand and my brand is me,” says Matthew. “Who does Freshii look like? It’s the people I work with every single day.”

5. Millennials: now is the time to take risks

Being young with no mortgages or family to take care of, with almost nothing to lose, is a rare opportunity, Matthew says. “Don’t spend your time going to conferences. Spend most of your time with your head down and executing. We believe in launching fast, failing faster and iterating even faster.”

Venturing Out is a weekly podcast series hosted by Arlene Dickinson and presented by CBC Calgary. Each episode delves into a behind-the-scenes look at the survival stories of Canadian business leaders as they took risks, experienced failure and continued to think big as they navigated their way through the Canadian business marketplace to success. New episodes will be available every Tuesday starting July 18 to August 29, 2017. Subscribe to Venturing Out on your favourite podcast app, or listen on the free CBC Radio app for iOS and Android, or at


This article was originally published in July 2017.