Odd Burger (TSXV:ODD) is on a mission to disrupt the conventional fast food industry. The Ontario-based, entirely vegan company produces fast food made from scratch using plant-based, minimally processed and sustainable ingredients and also has nine restaurant locations in operation to sell those products.
Co-founder and CEO James McInnes joined The Market Herald to talk about the company’s expansion plans and what makes its burgers odd.
TMH: For viewers who may not be familiar with the Odd Burger story, can you go into detail about what makes you so “Odd” and why you started this company?
JM: Odd Burger is actually Canada’s first all-vegan fast food chain and so right away that makes us different because we are much more sustainable than other fast food chains. So our ingredients are sustainably sourced and the environmental footprint is a lot less, but it’s not the only thing that actually makes us odd. We also use very state-of-the-art cooking equipment, highly automated cooking equipment. Our restaurant locations are compact and small, less than a thousand square feet. You can run the restaurants with as little as one person. So we’re very a tech forward restaurant and we’re expanding through a franchise model. So that really is everything that makes us very different.
TMH: You recently announced some exciting news: You have signed an agreement with a developer to open 20 franchise locations just south of the border in Washington state. Tell us about that.
JM: Really a huge development for us. We signed our first big U.S. development deal in Washington state and that’s for the development of 20 locations over the next eight years in Washington but that development is going to be starting right away. So the developer’s looking for locations, looking for local franchise partners to help them operate the restaurants and we’re going to be expanding in a big way in the U.S. market. So that again is our first of hopefully many deals in the U.S.
TMH: You also recently announced your first international expansion agreement for the development of 150 locations in India and Singapore, can you go into more detail on that?
JM: This Indian deal is actually our first international deal that we signed. It’s a master franchise agreement for the development rights of that territory and a similar type of situation to what we did in the U.S. The developer’s going to be developing through 150 locations over the next 10 years. It’s a bigger project. India obviously is a massive market. There are 574 million vegetarians in India and 126 million vegans. So it’s just a staggering statistic when you think about what we’re making and what the market is needing there. We’re really excited to get started.
TMH: I understand that you have an innovative franchise initiative called the Odd Stock program where franchisees can use part of their franchise fee to invest in your company. Can you elaborate more on this?
JM: The Odd Stock Program is really a revolution, in my opinion, for the franchising industry because the way the franchising industry has always worked is that the franchisee pays a franchise fee to the franchisor and they typically see no benefit to that outside of just the right to open the concept in the system. So the Odd Stock Program really gives franchisees something for that investment so they can invest up to half of their franchise fees into the company either through a private placement or on the open market, which is really amazing for other investors as well. And really I think what it does is it unites Odd Burger with our franchise partners in a way that is not seen in the industry where they’re investors in our company and we are shared in the success of our growth. So it’s a very, very exciting program.
TMH: Let’s back up for a minute, tell us about your products themselves and how they are made. You produce them at your facility in London, Ontario. Tell us about that.
JM: We’re unique actually because we do operate our own manufacturing division called Preposterous Foods and this is really important for us because it allows us to have complete control of the food technology and the products and the ingredients and the sourcing that goes into our food because we are a hundred percent vegan company and really focused on maintaining that integrity. We are better able to do that with our own manufacturer manufacturing facility. So our products are also unique. They’re made from more simple, more natural ingredients and we really manufacture our food in a unique way so that we can keep that ingredient profile very natural. And that’s very important for consumers and it’s something that has really always resonated with our customers.
TMH: You recently announced an expansion initiative that will increase distribution of your manufactured food service products to external institutions, tell us about that.
JM: Actually we recently bought a food broker called AS Food Sales and this brokerage agreement will hopefully get our product in many more distribution points. So we are looking to get our food in hospitals, in airlines, convenience stores, really in all these different types of institutions because there’s such tremendous potential for our products. We have over 20 products that we manufacture and distribute with Cisco right now, and so these products can be used in all sorts of different ways that are not being done at Odd Burger. So again, a lot of revenue potential there, a lot of growth potential as we enter this new phase of our business.
TMH: Is there anything else we haven’t touched on so far that’s important for our viewers and your investors to know right now?
JM: I think the most important thing that I wanted to mention is, really, just the reason why I started this company and I started Odd Burger because I had major health issues, frankly. And even though I thought I was eating fairly well and that kind of stuff, in my earlier 30s I was diagnosed with a number of ailments. So I tried a plant-based diet for 30 days and I had just tremendous benefits from it and I made it my life mission at that point to really let other people experience those benefits, too, and enlighten them that you can transform your health and also have a huge impact on the world with what you eat. And so this is the reason why I started Odd Burger, and really I think why I’m so motivated to make this company into a phenomenal success.
James McInnes is the CEO and co-founder of Odd Burger. The company trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol ODD and on the OTCQB under the ticker ODDAF.
To learn more about Odd Burger, go to oddburger.com.
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