When we featured Dans Le Noir, a dining in the dark restaurant chain that employs blind servers, we were curious to learn more about the business model, and the people behind it. In the interview below, Edouard de Broglie, the founder of Dans le Noir and president of Ethik Investment Group, shares more about the social enterprise, as well as some of his personal journey as a social entrepreneur.
3 Questions With Edouard de Broglie, founder of Dans le Noir
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
I wanted to reinvest my profit issued from NTIC into a socially useful business. After meeting with various foundations in Europe, I approached Paul Guinot from the French Blind Foundation, who has been organizing dinners in the dark since 1997, and asked if he wanted to help set up the company.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I wanted to create a model that incorporates a social cause while also bringing success and profit, with the hope of inspiring other entrepreneurs and financial institutions. Swapping technological innovation for social innovation was a personal choice; it's a bit less profitable, but the return is enough -- and it's much more interesting. I may be a little less rich, but am much happier!
3. How do you get your inspiration?
We get inspiration from choosing to think about things differently. We see disability as a difference, and difference creates value. Sometimes people just forget that when they leave university and get into the business world.
We're working on five more ideas like Dans le Noir, but as a small to mid-size company ($9M in sales this year) we need to concentrate on our main international project.
A Restaurant Where You Dine in the Dark
1. Dining in the Dark - The concept of dining in the dark can be implemented by various restaurants for enhanced customer experiences, especially for those who want to try something new and exciting.
2. Socially Innovative Business Models - Businesses can incorporate social causes in their business model to achieve both success/profit and social impact, which can inspire other entrepreneurs and financial institutions.
3. Value From Differences - Seeing differences, such as disabilities, as a source of value can inspire companies to develop products and services that cater to diverse needs and preferences.
1. Restaurant Industry - Restaurants can embrace innovative dining experiences like dining in the dark to attract new customers and provide them with a unique experience.
2. Social Entrepreneurship Industry - Social entrepreneurs can develop creative solutions to social issues while also achieving commercial success, thus inspiring other businesses to incorporate social causes in their business models.
3. Consulting Industry - Consulting firms can help businesses identify social causes that align with their company values and develop strategies for incorporating them in their business models, which benefits both the society and the businesses.