Entrepreneurs Grind

Annabel Lawee, Founder of Breeze, Wants To Reinvent How You Eat At The Airport

On this week’s episode of The Tartare Project, host Phil Toronto welcomes Annabel Lawee, founder of Breeze. Breeze is a company that serves specialized airport food packages for those that may not be interested in eating actual airport food.

Pulling from her experiences of flying with Celiac disease, Lawee’s mission was to create a company that would provide airport travelers with convenient access to healthy meals instead of standard restaurant food. Noting the stress and inconvenience that can come from meal planning while trying to make your flight, Breeze provides different meal options made straight from scratch with high-quality ingredients. The menu also accommodates those with dietary preferences and restrictions such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, and you can plan your meals up to 24 hours in advance through the Breeze App.

Toronto and Lawee covered a lot of ground during their conversation, primarily discussing how Lawee built Breeze and how she continues to navigate her business through the pandemic. The discussion kicked off with Lawee giving listeners a general view of how Breeze came to be. “Breeze is an on-demand service for airport travelers. You can choose a selection of food, snacks, and beverages, as well as your pick-up time, and we will be ready for you in a centralized pickup point within an airport terminal.” Going on to describe how airport food can be a ‘sucky experience,’ not just in terms of quality, but with various factors such as long lines and other inconveniences, Lawee is determined to change those annoyances by becoming the ‘antithesis’ of airport food experiences.

The conversation then takes several steps back, with Toronto asking Lawee about her childhood experiences growing up in Montreal, attending the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario, and moving to New York after graduation. After moving to New York, Lawee joined Echo, a tech startup, and worked there for five years in sales and partnerships, learning many essential skills along the way that would ultimately help with the development of her own company.

Pivoting the conversation towards the early stages of Breeze, Lawee describes what the ideation process was like. “I started ideating about Breeze around 2017. I went on a trip to Cabo, and I remember feeling so bloated and disgusting because I overdosed on almonds since I couldn’t find anything else to eat. It was something that kept happening when I would go on business trips,” Lawee says as she recalls the difficulty of finding quality foods to eat while traveling.

The negative experiences fueled the idea for Breeze. After toying around with the idea for a long time, Lawee finally got the confidence to put her plan into motion after receiving encouragement from her peers and colleagues. Building a startup isn’t the easiest process, and Toronto asked Lawee about the beginning stages of Breeze and how the company has been able to get to where it is today. “I didn’t really know how to start a company, and I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I had a great idea that I had to raise money for. I put together a deck that was super catchy and something that potential tech investors could resonate with. My fundraising process happened really quickly—we basically raised $1.5 million on a PowerPoint  slide that said, ‘Airport Food Sucks!’ While that was amazing, the main challenge was this ‘imposter syndrome’—if I had known then what I know now about getting into an airport, I don’t think I would have ever done it.”

Toronto and Lawee had an incredible conversation full of many valuable gems. You can catch the full episode above and follow all of the latest updates from Breeze on Instagram and Twitter.

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