28 year old Sam is the founder of ToroMatcha. He grew up in Morocco before moving to France when he was 17 years old, got his Master’s degree from a top-tier engineering school in Paris, then completed his double-degree at Polytechnique in Montreal.
It’s when he moved to Canada that Sam discovered matcha. Seeing how much his friends craved energy but suffered from the ill-effects of caffeine, he saw an opportunity to market matcha to the masses, and that’s how ToroMatcha was born! We sat down with him to find out more.
Tell us a bit more about how and when you discovered matcha.
I first discovered matcha when I was an engineering student at Polytechnique in Montreal through an ex girlfriend who grew up in Japan. At first, I hated the earthy taste of matcha, so I would chug it straight back up.
But what I liked about it was how matcha made me feel energized and how I didn’t get the jitters nor the crash I’d get from coffee or Red Bull. In fact since then matcha has replaced my daily coffee and I now feel so much more energized every day!
And at what point did you think you could turn it into a successful business?
I often heard my friends and colleagues complain about the amount of coffee and energy drinks they have to consume daily to stay focused and how they were scared of the side-effects. I did my research and found out that over 70% of caffeine consumers in North America were having similar concerns. Matcha provides healthy long-lasting energy with no jitters and no crash - it was the solution but it wasn’t accessible or easy-to-drink. I had to do something about it!
You’re an engineer by trade. How hard was it to transfer to the Food & Beverage startup space?
It was like starting school all over again. I’m a fast-learner so I enjoyed the process.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
We want the same shelf space that large corporations in the Food & Beverage industry want too. We have limited resources, so it is always hard for category managers to choose a startup brand instead of going with the large corporation that they know will support them in huge promotions and strong marketing efforts.
And what are you most excited about for the future?
First, seeing ToroMatcha on the shelves of most grocery stores in the US, and second launching Matcha Colada this summer in Quebec! I can’t wait to see these tasty and refreshing malt-based matcha drinks on the shelves. Not to mention that they’re natural and sugar-free.
Can you tell us a fun fact about you that not a lot of people know?
I weighed 250lbs when I was 18 years old.