In This Episode:
In 2014, Jorge Gaviria started Masienda, the go-to masa brand for top chefs and in-the-know home cooks around the world. In January 2020, he was ready to move on from his role as CEO. Then, the world shut down and his company was flipped upside down. What happened next usually only happens in Hollywood movies. Jorge Gaviria took on the pandemic, and he WON!
Highlights from Jorge Gaviria:
- I discovered my passion for food while teaching and started working at a restaurant as a prep cook on weekends.
- I started Masienda, a business that focuses on producing Masa, the corn dough used in Latin American cuisine. I sourced corn from Mexico through an impact-based supply chain that worked with smallholder farmers.
- The early stages of Masienda focused on selling to chefs in the restaurant industry to finance the development of the supply chain.
- The name “Masienda” combines the words “Masa” (dough) and “Tienda” (store) in Spanish.
- By 2019, Masienda had a network of around 2,000 farmers and was helping chefs start their own masa programs.
- The pandemic forced us to pivot away from food service to adapt to the changing market conditions. We had just purchased a large inventory of corn before the pandemic hit, causing restaurants to shut down and uncertainty about border closures.
- In 2020, we sold out our out inventory as home cooks discovered their products during the pandemic. We pivoted to a direct-to-consumer model and experienced significant growth, surpassing the revenue we generated from the food service business.
- Technology and social media were crucial in optimizing our business and engaging with customers.
- We developed a tabletop mill product for food service, but the high costs of manufacturing led us to use our Capital One rewards to finance the initial production.
- We now use our Capital One rewards program to finance innovative projects and take meaningful risks without having a separate line of credit.
- Our future plans include scaling our supply chain, launching a value-added product in retail grocery stores starting with Whole Foods, and expanding distribution to reach more consumers.