Summary: Our plan is to build manufacturing capacity while showcasing our wares and identity in a Micro-winery restaurant to open initially in Tijuana. One of the healthiest diets in the world, Med-Mex cuisine has quietly moved through the past 5 centuries without much fanfare. Yet you cannot eat a tabouleh salad or a caesar salad or sip gazpacho without knowing that the blend of two culinary superpowers have combined to enhance the lives of those eating it. And when the US census reported the shocking news that Latin people in the US were living on average a few years longer than white or black people, despite having a higher percentage of dangerous jobs and living conditions, people started wondering how they were doing it.
Lifestyle is of course important, but if you decide to look at diet and break-down the Latin population in the United States, you will see that 63% of the people that are Latin are Mexican in origin. 500 years ago, they had a great diet, but it was incomplete in terms of proteins and other areas because they didn’t have animals like cows. Enter Columbus and the Europeans, bringing beef, cheese, garlic, olives, wine and many other Mediterranean traditions to blend in with Mexican culture and create a new continental cuisine that is even more balanced and healthy. Maya Botticelli celebrates this fine tradition by selling its foods in stores throughout North America. Maya Botticelli currently has a lineup of close to 20 products that are ready for production and several more that are in development. All products are intended to be healthy alternatives to existing popular food choices. The model of the planned micro-winery showcase is similar to a Tillamook Creamery or restaurant where the dining experience is matched in terms of importance by the emphasis on showcasing the brand. Once in production, the products will be sold to grocery stores and markets in the United States and Mexico. The price strategy is to provide the most affordable dining experience possible.
Geographic Markets: Mexico, United States
Targeted Audiences: Budget gourmet and health-conscious consumers
Key Competitors: Small Mexican Entrepeneurs, Baja Med acolytes, Clamato, Pizza chains, Sandwich
chains, Coffee Houses, Goya
- Products are part of a proven diet that increases health
- Open field advantage: products occupy niche that is not crowded
- Gourmet foods, value pricing
Competitive environment: When Maya Botticelli opened its office in Mexico several years ago, a lot of businesses were shuttered due to the drug wars that were going on locally. Nonetheless, competition was and is both structured and intense in the food business.
On the food manufacturing side, spies looking to pass information to competitors are rife, to the point that Maya Botticelli’s office has been surveilled and reported on almost the entire time it has been open. As a result, very few product concepts among the lineup that Maya Botticelli has planned have remained secret.
Maya Botticelli’s plans to manufacture gazpacho are one such example. Within weeks of the disclosure, several local food businesses had experimented with the concept. This apparently brought the news to the attention of a large tomato and clam juice brand based in Tijuana. That summer, they rolled out several cold tomato drinks and cocktail franchises at existing beachside and downtown restaurants. The planned channel in Tijuana was therefore effectivel muddied temporarily.
In the United States, major distributors to restaurants have stated correctly that Maya Botticelli is also a distributor and will likely compete with them eventually in its product categories.
There is also widespread brand recognition due to ongoing promotional efforts that presage the actual release of products. As far North as downtown San Diego, passersby have unilaterally suggested locations for a potential “Maya Botticelli’s” restaurant.
Maya Botticelli Green Olives proved to be similar in terms of competitive experience. Buying trips to centralized markets to negotiate with potential secondary suppliers resulted in one of the largest olive distributors in town strategically placing their emblazoned vehicle near the path of our president as he walked into a large wholesale market as a means of showing him that they were the wholesaler
providing olives. Local olive prices went up by 30% within the space of a month.
Goya entered the fray in 2010, providing a complete lineup of Spanish and Latin American foods numbering in the thousands of products. An old-time East Coast concern, it soon became obvious that they added a Southern California representative as their brand started appearing in most stores.
Restaurant businesses that compete have been similar in their competitiveness. After announcing publicly that pizza would be part of the Med-Mex theme for Maya Botticelli’s, several entrepreneurs hopped on the ‘trend’ and started pizza restaurants locally. In both Rosarito and Tijuana, pizza delivery people with stacks of pies in their hands followed our president around into various stores to sell pizza to store clerks and assert their claim. After another beachside conversation was eavesdropped upon and another pizza store opened with even more of the theme planned for Maya Botticelli’s, our president walked into the new restaurant and looked at the owner quizzically. The new owner shrugged and said “I overheard you talking.” Fortunately, Maya Botticelli’s core business is ingredients. Every new pizza store, although a restaurant competitor, is also a potential customer. So adopting a wait-and-see attitude has paid dividends. Of the seven restaurants that opened after the announcement, four have closed their doors.
Baja Med acolytes refer to a local movement that predates Maya Botticelli. They have evolved from a group that opened a pizza restaurant in the same spot as Maya Botticelli’s had announced plans to put a test foodcart to a group that planned a Baja Med fest next door to Imaginot’s Mexico office. Their group does and does not compete with Maya Botticelli’s directly. Maya Botticelli’s is known as Med-Mex and is part of a known genre that has been part of the Mexican culinary scene for hundreds of years. To the extent that Baja Med is actually unique to Baja and in a higher price range, there is no direct competition. Mexi-terranean themed restaurants are also now starting to appear locally.
An international business network has created several restaurants in downtown Tijuana over the past few years. There has been movement by this group in the direction of Maya Botticelli’s implementation strategy over the past year or two as the wholesale markets have become a new investment vehicle and the Southern San Diego grocery stores have had
network members link up in a possible vertical integration effort. Imaginot has had previous experience with a potentially similar network that caused a large order from its partner’s Argentine manufacturing partner to be canceled after the customer already paid and waited for three months while additional paperwork hoops were jumped through. Theywere ready to pay and were not allowed to pay or consummate the deal despite a multi-year contract. Curiously, they wouldn’t have known if the person involved hadn’t called and told them that they were fired and that causing the order to fail was the reason. They added that they deserved it. The partner involved, a 100 year old company that was manufacturing our blends then provided further assurances by switching the future manufacturing site to another one of its facilities where it could be certain that transactions would not be co-opted by spies.
The point being that although there are solid relations with local supermarkets, the potential exists for bottlenecks caused by competitors that are using organic networks to create supply chains and then lock out the competition or dictate terms.
Key Success Factors: As a brand, Maya Botticelli is already off to a good start. As a manufacturing concern, it requires more funding to increase equipment and other costs that come along with scaling up to be able to consistently deliver large orders in the United States. A solid opening for the microwinery will be helpful in raising brand awareness and building market share in Mexico.
Risk: The path the brand is on now will cause it to continue small scale production and bootstrap incrementally, gradually increasing revenue and reach with the opening of the microwinery. An alternate path is to apply financing and open and start larger scale manufacture sooner. The main risks that come with opening sooner are the early exposure to equipment failure when a large order is being processed, the cancellation of one or more large orders when they have been processed and are ready for shipment, and the possibility of supply chain disruption by competitors.