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Matthew Corrin, Founder and CEO, Freshii, Toronto.

Freshii

Each year, Caldwell Partners International chooses 40 Canadians who were under 40 in the past year to honour for their outstanding achievements. Click here to learn more about the program, and find more winners in the list below.

In his first week of business, Matthew Corrin's chef sliced his finger, the kitchen manager broke his nose when he fainted from the sight of the blood and an employee broke in and stole the takings. Not the most auspicious of beginnings for Freshii Inc., but Mr. Corrin never wavered from his goal: changing the world by changing the way people eat.

Just six years later, there are more than 80 locations that follow Mr. Corrin's recipe for fast, healthy meals served in biodegradable packaging, spread across North America, in Austria and even in Dubai.

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A media relations graduate from London's University of Western Ontario who flunked his business class - "I didn't understand it," he says, "and found it stressful," - Mr. Corrin has become an entrepreneur determined to revolutionize the restaurant industry.

Indeed, Mr. Corrin says his non-traditional business model has helped lead such rapid growth. While he continues to open new locations, he also works with like-minded business people who develop markets in their regions and bring his holistic concept to new markets where vegetarian options may be limited. He makes sure his partners are philosophically aligned, he says: "the types of people I want to go and have a beer with on a Friday night."

Recalling that first fraught week, he adds, "We made every mistake one can make in day-to-day operations, and learned so many lessons. So our value proposition to our franchise partners was how we can help you not make those mistakes."

Through an old friend from his hometown, Winnipeg, he scored a summer job in New York on the David Letterman show at the age of 18. That led to two years working for designer Oscar de la Renta, where, on his breaks, he would sit in a Starbucks on the Upper West Side and hone his business plan, one based on too many unhealthy lunches grabbed at the local deli. "What I set out to do was add magic to the fresh food business," he says, "and create a model that was scalable, highly branded and would ultimately change the way people eat."

With two little girls, three years and two months old, Mr. Corrin now finds himself juggling the grueling travel required to further Freshii's food revolution with fatherhood. Wife Kate was the staffer who stepped in to help him do food prep when his chefs were taken off in an ambulance. "That's why I married her," he jokes.

More winners:

  • Karen Bakker, 39
  • Keith Bilous, 39
  • Leonard Brody, 39
  • Naman Budhdeo, 38
  • Michael Burns, 39
  • Craig Campbell, 34
  • Norie Campbell, 39
  • Jody Campeau, 39
  • Cody Church, 39
  • Brian Coombes, 36
  • Matthew Corrin, 29
  • Frederick Dryden, 39
  • Dominic Giroux, 35
  • Deirdre Horgan, 38
  • Kyle Jeworski, 36
  • Nicholas Johnson, 38
  • Dr. Kirsten Johnson, 39
  • Kevin Li, 39
  • Stewart Lyons, 37
  • Muhammad Mamdani, 39
  • Andy McCreath, 35, and Christian Darbyshire, 35
  • Calvin McDonald, 39
  • Duke McKenzie, 35
  • Glori Meldrum, 37
  • Michele Mosca, 39
  • Suresh Narine, 39
  • Sean O'Reilly, 36
  • John Poulos, 36
  • Andrew Reid, 34
  • Gregory Roberts, 38
  • Angela Santiago, 39
  • Bradley Schwartz, 39
  • Leerom Segal, 31
  • Som Seif, 34
  • Natasha Sharpe, 39
  • Andrew Smith, 38
  • Steve Sousa, 39
  • Marie-Pier St-Hilaire, 33
  • David Vocadlo, 37
  • Nolan Watson, 31
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