- February 2010
Turns out wine IS rocket science
And so, Martin sought to learn about the different types of grapes and the classic food pairings. He took oenology classes and went to wine tastings but soon found them to be expensive, complicated and let’s just say it: boring. He was excited by the idea of food subscription boxes that were emerging in the USA, which seemed like more exciting alternatives to everyday food shopping.
Putting two and two together, he thought: why not start a wine subscription box in France?
- July 2010
Things started taking shape
The ball was starting to roll. He had the name: Le Petit Ballon, which is a nickname in french given to a glass of wine due to it’s resemblance to a ball (a ballon). Martin went on a quest to find the Le Petit Ballon wine specialist - someone who was an expert in all things wine, but who also embodied the Le Petit Ballon spirit of fun and openness. After numerous meetings with oenologs and sommeliers, the spark just wasn’t there. He was about to give up when Jean-Michel got in touch - he was the former master sommelier of the Ritz in Paris, renowned worldwide for his expertise and the first online sommelier. It sounded promising...
- January 2011
The perfect sommelier!
Winter in Paris, and Martin was waiting to meet Jean-Michel. Aside from his expertise, it was his friendliness and openness that sealed the deal within 15 minutes. Jean-Michel was already amused by the idea of being the personal sommelier to thousands of people.
The 3 founders are ready to go!
Looking for a third accomplice, Martin reached out to Matthieu Lesne, an old schoolfriend of his who he remembers as the guy who used to do the splits at parties! Matthieu had an impressive career working for major brands such as nestle, and his experience was to be the backbone of Le Petit Ballon’s success.
Le Petit Ballon is born
- February 2011
The first subscribers!
Then it began. The first boxes were prepared, packed and sent from inside Martin’s apartment in Paris and the first subscribers were anyone they could muster; relatives, friends, neighbours, facebook friends, anyone who would listen. But, People started talking, and the dozens of subscribers turned into hundreds within weeks. Martin’s apartment became the headquarters of Le Petit Ballon; changing from office to store room to wine tasting gallery, all in a day's work. Martin and Matthieu recall opening most of their carefully selected bottles with customers who came to the house to pick up their boxes. It was the concept that was drawing people in; not only customers but also people who wanted to work for this new, innovative company.
- April 2013
The shop opens
Walking down Rue du Rocher in Paris one day, Martin noticed a ‘for rent’ sign in a shop window and had the thought - why not open a wine shop? He envisioned the shop as a social place where he could get to know the growing Le Petit Ballon family (and it was a much better storage option than his bathroom!). In April 2013, La Grande Cave (The Big Cellar) opened, with the backroom to be the Le Petit Ballon office.
- November 2013
We finally meet our CEO!
A man whose eyes sparkle at the sight of numbers and whose ears prick at sound of a problem needing to be solved, Clément Thibault was the perfect antidote to balance the team. His characteristics of ingenuity, data wizardry and lover of a good pun embodied the Le Petit Ballon spirit perfectly.
- December 2014
The Le Petit Ballon
family grows rapidly to 10000 subscribers!
- September 2015
The creation of the Le Petit Ballon labels
- November 2015
- December 2015
Le Petit Ballon launches in the UK and Belgium
- September 2016
First publication of the Le Petit Ballon Wine Guide
- December 2016
60 000 subscribers, Le Petit Ballon sends its million bottle