Born on the glittering shores of the French Riviera, Mathieu Massa hails from a family of entrepreneurs. His early inspiration comes from a lineage of great men that date back to his great-grandfather, Sylvain Massa, who came from Italy in 1908 and settled in Cannes with little in his pockets. With no experience but a lot of vision, Sylvain opened Massa Tires which would eventually, under the control and development of the family, generation after generation, became one of the most influential and competitive tire distribution companies in Europe. Strongly influenced and inspired by the family entrepreneurial spirit, Mathieu embarked on a track of higher education receiving his diploma from the prestigious school HEC in Paris and an MBA from Babson College in Boston. After graduating, he relocated to Miami and created a private equity firm specializing in distressed assets to benefit from the subprime crisis of 2008.
In 2009, his step into the hospitality world would come by chance. The famed Baoli Cannes team reached out to Mathieu as an investment opportunity for their franchise in Miami Beach. With no experience in food and beverage but a lifelong love of hosting and entertaining, Mathieu took a leap of faith and re-invented Baoli Miami Beach. In 2014, after the immense success of Baoli, which was named one of the best restaurants in Florida, Mathieu founded MR. Hospitality along with business partner Michael Ridard. The company will act as food and beverage/hospitality group with several restaurants set to open in 2015.
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
My background is finance and real estate. I graduated from the Babson college MBA program in Boston in 2007. I was inspired by the American business culture and decided to take my chances in Miami which I visited for the first time in 2006. While I was heavily investing in 2009 in the real estate market to benefit from the subprime crisis, Christophe Caucino the founder of Baoli in Cannes approached me to help him with his new Miami restaurant (named Vita at the time). He needed some help with accounting, administration, financing and construction. I did all this for him and fell in love with the industry. I learned a lot from him and one year later Christophe made me an offer to buy out his shares so he could go back to France and focus on his businesses over there. America was not where he could see himself live any longer. His French businesses needed him to be there. I accepted his offer and started my career in the hospitality industry. This was early 2011 and that’s when Baoli Miami was born.
Tell us about Mr. Hospitality. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
The idea to create a hospitality group came from wanting to grow the Baoli Miami success into new ventures, new concepts. My vision is to offer a unique experience where people can disconnect from the everyday and enjoy a unique and emotional moment. Traveling made me understand what people want and my vision is to give it to them without them even knowing they want that particular product/service.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have contributed to the success of Mr. Hospitality’s venues?
My goal is to surround myself with the people and organizations that share the same values that I care about. Everyone I’ve partnered with shares the understanding of what hospitality is about -- and that always goes back to customer satisfaction
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
People are more and more conscious about eating healthy. They want to make sure what they eat or drink comes from quality ingredients. They want to know the origins of the products. They want to make sure all ingredients are fresh. Our mission is to source the best products available on the market and capitalize on it. All of this has a price but our target customers are willing to pay for it.
Do what you love and do it with passion.
Hospitality motto: 100% customer satisfaction no matter what.
Your greatest success as CEO of Mr. Hospitality? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
Success: creating a Latin cabaret with a show and live entertainment and getting international credit for it from the Latin market themselves. This was a huge team effort and I am beyond proud of my team.
Difficult moment: opening two monster restaurants (Marion and El Tucan) just two weeks from one another. I surrounded myself with the best people I could find and made sure to inspire them with my vision. I learned that anything is possible when you follow your heart.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Never let anyone destroy your dreams, and make sure to have fun achieving them.
Describe the ideal experience at (Baoli, El Tucan or Marion).
The ideal experience is when a guest enjoyed the moment away from his/her phone and felt like he/she disconnected from the everyday even if that is for a short moment.
How do you motivate your employees?
By picking passionate individuals, by training them under the direction of our vision, and by encouraging them. Always.
What's next for Mr. Hospitality?
Opening new venues and keeping the dream alive.