We talked to Alan Taveras Sepúlveda of Brands of Puerto Rico about how the platform enables Puerto Rican entrepreneurs to market their products to the world and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: COVID 19 has been critical in everyone’s daily life. For us, in the eCommerce industry, our volume has expanded dramatically. This exponential growth made us bring in some family members to help fulfil our orders. That being said, we are extremely lucky that COVID hasn’t affected anyone in our core family group.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Brands 0f Puerto Rico.
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: I have an academic background in advertising and an MBA with an IT focus. After returning from Buenos Aires, where I went to business school, my brother and I started co-founding startups and working with local ad agencies. In 2014 we founded Brands Of Puerto Rico, a project that grew to other markets; Brands of Mexico, Brands of Guatemala and Brands of Dominican Republic. We are creating the biggest catalogue of authentic LATAM brands to cater to the US Hispanic community.
In my free time, I collaborate with the nonprofit sector. Currently, I’m part of the board of executives of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Centro de Detallistas, the biggest merchant and entrepreneur group in Puerto Rico.
How does Brands Of Puerto Rico innovate?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: We create cultural experiences that connect our customers with their home countries while living in the STATES. Our aggregator platforms allow our customers to buy everything they need, from food to books. Our platform represents a digital & cross border point of sale and an ally in business insights and intelligence to our merchants.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: The entire eCommerce industry exploded due to the pandemic. Our business grew by 300% during 2020. In terms of logistics, it was difficult during the first few months due to the high volume of orders and also the learning curve of new recruits. Nevertheless, we were able to conquer the volume and ride the wave. This exponential growth paved the way to us raising our Series A.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: The most difficult decision we made was accepting that our past process and methods didn’t work when the volume tripled. We accepted this fact and pivoted to new methods and even brought outside help to design better processes. Currently, we are transforming our company to adopt the KAIZEN or LEAN method.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: The following are tools and software we use to navigate the crisis.
- Customer Service – Hubspot
- Process design- KAIZEN method
- Internal communications: Slack and Teams
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: We have local competitors in Puerto Rico and other markets, but our biggest competitor is Amazon. Our strategy is clear and doesn’t conflict with Amazon’s strategy, and we are focused on making our customers feel like home. Cultural content and emotional fulfilment are our product. That means better creatives, personal customer service & authentic product mix.
Your final thoughts?
Alan Taveras Sepúlveda: COVID 19 changed the way we do business and how our customers shop. People want their favorite brands and authentic products faster than ever. During 2020 our company experienced revenue and internal growth, which is never easy but opened our mind to new methods and processes that helped us thrive while others went under. 2020 was the year that tested our work for the last 5 years, we passed the stress test and came out even stronger with new partners.
Consumers are pivoting to conscious purchases and brands that stand for their values. Concepts like ours fulfil that cultural nostalgia while giving the chance to invest directly in Latin American entrepreneurs.
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