Look for coffee alternatives so that they are not abused on weekdays. That’s what prompted Pepe Cabestany and Víctor Abrines, partner and CEO of Matcha&Co, to plan this start-up in 2013. Born in Barcelona in 2018, he sells powdered green tea and matcha tea from Japan and, with this product, also makes skin care supplements made in Spain. Reductions and the pandemic have increased their sales by five times. A trend that doesn’t seem stagnant: they expect to end the year with sales of 2.2 million euros.
“We closed the previous year with 171,000 euros and in 2020 we charged 850,000 euros gross, 703,000 net,” explains Abrines, who attributes this success to consumption at home. Also the way they react to being able to adapt to the moment, employing two people. Operating results have gone from negative (-73,000 euros in 2019) to reaching a profit of more than 10,000 euros in 2020, which they expect to grow this year.
The company under the umbrella of the Lanzadera incubator, business accelerator of entrepreneur Juan Roig, owner of Mercadona, also sells other “consumer and consumer” products, such as aesthetic items produced by two laboratories in Barcelona. The next step is to launch a line of creamy culinary delights made from tea. Currently, 70% of its turnover comes from powdered tea and 30% from supplements, such as probiotics and multivitamins.
The moment chosen to found the company was a success. “In 2018 there was a matcha culture, there were brands that sold their products. We were born with a commercial strategy supported by collaboration, with influencers and through our own e-commerce portal.” To start, they each contributed 20,000 euros of their own capital, which was expanded by a round in which they included two people “who receive 3% of the company in return for their knowledge.” They are yet to seek more capital to expand into France, Germany and the UK, where they already have. Neighboring countries account for 30% of their online sales; now the goal is to conquer the United States, where they already have the authorization to sell their products, including supplements.
One of the peaks of growth occurred when they started selling through Amazon. “We increased brand exposure through the big cake. This represents for us 24% of sales. The rest comes from retailer, by 25%, and online”. The physical line is in organic supermarkets, because the tea is cataloged that way; the container is recyclable and, being powdered, requires no tea bags. “In Spain, 122,200 kilograms of plastic are disposed of in these small containers,” they explain.
without knowing the customer
They haven’t entered the Horeca (recovery) channel and aren’t interested either. “We’re not in a coffee shop because they’re looking for much higher profits,” Abrines said. And he explains that the “more exclusive gourmet club” wins. What they weren’t very clear on at first was who their target audience was. “We thought it would be people looking for alternatives to coffee, interested in quality products from Japan, but we realized that these are people, especially women, who want to take care of themselves and reduce their stress levels,” Abrines explains.
Initially, the strategy was to outsource some of the activities; now his team of 12 people handles everything from shipping and customer management to payment platforms. “Cabestany has strong ties to Japan and knows where we can find the tea we’re looking for of the right quality, but we don’t have the logistics know-how to prepare this, because we’re technical profiles, numbers,” explains Abrines, who considers capital ” directly managing online sales, customer service, logistics organization, and product development”. They just outsource the production of supplements.
During the pandemic, they put people in charge of logistics into the workforce. “One of the problems we found back then was that you had to be very good at importing and managing third parties. To close work with suppliers and land, sea and air routes, we needed to hire a new profile dedicated specifically to this,” added Cabestany. “For us, confinement has been an opportunity to grow and we have to live with it,” added his partner.
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