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Founder Spotlight: Dror Balshine (Sol Cuisine)

 

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This article was originally published by https://www.vegpreneur.org/blog/dror-balshine
 

Meet Dror Balshine

Company:

Sol Cuisine

Sol Cuisine is a trusted legacy brand catering to an expanding list of retail and restaurant consumers in search of non-GMO, wheat and gluten-free, kosher, halal, and organic vegan products. Our wide range of gourmet items focus on center of plate segments: burgers, appetizers, and entrees, which are consistently chosen by consumers in blind taste tests. These products are made in Sol Cuisine’s state-of-the-art 35,000 square foot facility and are distributed through an expanding channel mix of grocery, foodservice, and e-commerce.

 

Startup Stage:

Sol Cuisine was started in 1997 with personal loans and mortgages (3 of them) until sales were approaching $15M. Today we are a small-cap public company, that raised $15 million and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange Venture (TSXV) under the ticker symbol VEG in May 2021.

Location:

Mississauga, Canada

When did you launch the business? 

1997

What led you to where you are today?

As a salesman for a construction company, I was constantly on the road traveling throughout Canada. I couldn’t find any options when eating out as a vegan. I’ve always been passionate about food, consider myself an original foodie, and recognized an opportunity to introduce more plant-based products. Today I want to share the company’s vision and journey with more people – people who would become brand advocates, my Sol Mates. Overall, tensity - a desire to make an impact on people's lives, the planet, and society…. Plus lots of good fortune and teammates.

What do you wish you knew before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey? 

1) How much GOOD manufacturing equipment costs and how it’s worth every penny! 2) The impact of climate change on our planet and the positive implications of a vegan diet to combat hydrocarbons released from animal agriculture. 3) How mainstream plant-based alternatives would be in 2021 in our diets with such a growing base of consumers could have accelerated growth earlier with fewer competitors.

What is the most difficult decision you've had to make regarding your business so far? 

Moving from an entrepreneurial/family business to taking on institutional investors and partners. We had already passed the hardest startup phases and were already established but needed growth capital.

What can you help the VEGPRENEUR community with?

I can provide a uniquely Canadian perspective as the chair of our industry association Plant-Based Foods of Canada.

How can the VEGPRENEUR community help you? 

By providing an opportunity to gain a wider perspective of this exciting category from a global ecosystem of business leaders (established and up-and-coming).

Fun fact about you: 

I coach my son’s competitive hockey team but am a terrible skater and never played hockey myself!

Anything else you would like to share?

At Sol Cuisine we believe in growing our Sol Mates - people who become passionate about vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based foods. As an industry, I believe we’re all in this together and that we all benefit when the category and industry grow which has the potential to create a number of knock-on benefits by reducing our environmental impact and animal cruelty while helping people live a healthier lifestyle.

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