“Innovation means finding real solutions to social problems”

Par Marie Allimann | 27 février 2017 | Interview

According to serial entrepreneur David Côté, companies today need to focus their business instincts on challenges facing society.

In anticipation of the upcoming Novae conference in Quebec City, David Côté, the entrepreneur who gave us Rise Kombucha drinks, Crudessence restaurants, and most recently, Loop juices, shared his vision with us on businesses today. He will be at the conference participating in a panel discussion on rethinking businesses.

Now more than ever, instead of creating a need, businesses need to present a solution to a social problem. Today’s businesses, regardless of their structure, need to have a purpose other than just selling a product or service,” said Côté, co-founder of Loop, a cold-pressed juice company with a circular economy that makes juice from fruits and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste. “We found our purpose with Loop: to fight food waste by giving new life to as many fruits and vegetables as possible every day. The role of companies today is to answer urgent needs in our society. And for maximum impact, these solutions need to fit within the capitalist system we live in.”

Les trois fondateurs de Loop : Frédéric Courchesne, Julie Poitras-Saulnier et David Côté

Loop’s founders : Frédéric Courchesne, Julie Poitras-Saulnier et David Côté

According to this entrepreneur, it isn’t enough in 2017 for businesses to have a mission that promotes social values; companies also have to adapt their organizational dynamic to the times we’re living in. “The days of working at the same company for 40 years are behind us. Young people today are more entrepreneurially-minded than ever before, and they don’t just want to work for a company that has similar values, they also want to have major responsibilities.”  A paradigm shift is occurring, and as a result, Côté believes we’re going to start seeing an increase in internal employee initiatives. “Intrapreneurship is going to continue to grow in the coming years; we’re going to be seeing a lot more horizontal management in companies. Young people want to be fully engaged in something without feeling the weight of a hierarchy. It’s going to be a huge challenge for managers to release more power to employees.”

For Côté, this transformation toward a model where companies are more socially responsible will begin with big businesses. “Courchesne-Larose [a big fruit and vegetable wholesaler in Montreal with whom David Côté created Loop] is a good example of this new reality: this is a company that is doing very well and could have been content with that, but instead they decided to make a positive impact by giving new life to merchandise that, in the past, would have just been thrown out.”

Having always worked in the food sector, David Côté feels that it’s an industry that is especially impacted by these new practices. “The circular economy is going to start taking on greater importance, just as the local food movement did. Consumers want to buy a product that means something, and feel like their purchase benefits society in some way.”

David Côté will be participating in the Repenser l’entreprise round table during the second Novae Conference in Quebec City on March 29. Some of the other participants taking place in this event, dedicated to new strategies combining innovation and social impact, include Nathalie Tremblay, president of Marmott Énergies, Philippe Laperriere, managing director of the Baie de Beauport, and Bernard d’Arche, co-founder of the incubator Quartier Artisan.



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