In 2018, Alvaro Barretto had a six-ingredient recipe for a delicious Brazilian snack food that translates to “cheese bread”, and a dream to make this a popular snack food in North America! Flash forward a few years and Alvaro is now the founder and owner of Mandioca, a startup company in Canada that has reinvented the product to fit the Canadian market. They have doubled their sales in the last year; how did he do it? Alvaro faced many challenges with product awareness, marketing, and the overall impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but through rigorous market research and sampling events, he has created four delicious flavours of Mandioca cheese pops and a very successful business.
While Mandioca achieved significant growth over the past few years, he realized that he was facing a challenge with product awareness, as he was introducing a product that was entirely new to the North American market. He explains that “everybody needs to think about brand awareness and how to stand out in the shelves and displays, but in our case, we were one layer below that – we were talking about a product that nobody knows about and had to be explained.” Once he had made research-based modifications to the product to appeal to the Canadian market, such as making the cheese pops smaller and pairing them with wine instead of coffee, Alvaro knew the next step was to enhance promotion and product awareness. Enter, Innovation Guelph (IG)’s highly acclaimed Startup program!
Through his time so far in the Startup Program, Alvaro has focused on improving awareness and connecting with clients. He says his participation in this program has been extremely helpful with advising and building awareness, as they have been able to participate in shows, learn more about food safety, and present their product to their target market in new ways. He states that, “having an opportunity to work with Innovation Guelph is priceless; better than any money that could be put into the business because they helped with the two key factors we needed to focus on – awareness and advice”. With IG’s assistance, Mandioca became HACCP certified with a grade of 96.49%.
Alvaro has an undeniable entrepreneurial spirit and has big plans for Mandioca in the future, including building relationships with key accounts, creating more awareness through sampling, and expanding into the US market. He advises entrepreneurs to persist through the difficulties that go along with their business and to take advantage of available resources. Through his understanding of customers and incredible determination, Alvaro has successfully made his cheesy, easy-to-prepare products pop in the Canadian market!
For More About Mandioca & To Find Out Where to Buy Mandioca Cheese Pops: https://www.mandioca.ca/
For More About Innovation Guelph’s Startup Program: https://innovationguelph.ca/startup-program/