Young Entrepreneurs: Los Paleteros P.R.

Young Entrepreneurs: Los Paleteros PR

 

 

For those of you who may not know, “Los Paleteros PR” is a small business made up by two brothers, Luis and Christian Bautista. They're students of UPRRP who make a profit by selling frozen popsicles throughout the campus. These popsicles are made with natural ingredients and come in a variety of delicious flavors that could seem uncommon to some people, but somehow they make it work. This week I had the chance to interview one of these young entrepreneurs so that we can take a look at how it all started and how it works:

 

HCUPR: What motivated you to do this?

 

Luis Bautista: My brother and I have always wanted to have our own business. We're passionate about food and we initially visualized ourselves opening a food truck or something like that. While we were on vacation in the United States, visiting my grandmother and cousin, both from mexican descendants, we went to a popsicle shop and I loved it. When I got back to PR someone told me about another popsicle shop right here in the island, but when we went to check it out it wasn't up to our expectations. Then my brother said that we could do it better, and that's how it all started. By that time I had been working on accounting in a private office for almost two and a half years, but I decided to quit because if we were going to start this I had to be 100% involved in the business, because for me it’s very important to maintain a commitment.

 

HCUPR: What flavors do you have?

Luis Bautista: We have strawberry lemonade, kiwi-strawberry, mango-pineapple, lemon mojito, coquito, quenepa, passion fruit, guava-pineapple, nutella, and cookies & cream. We work on a lot of different flavors. We're trying to be innovative so that people know we are here to create different and unique things. For us, it's very important that the pallets of fruit are all natural fruit. If it's sweetened, it's sweetened with agave or brown sugar, without the use of juice or anything artificial. And most of the fruits used are from the marketplace in Rio Piedras.

 

 

HCUPR: What inspired you to make these flavors?

 

Luis Bautista: It really is by instinct and our passion for food. We're really demanding with what we eat, and we're the first to criticize something we don't like and look for a way to solve the problem. We are constantly testing different variations to create the most delicious and freshest product possible. Our interest in trying new flavors sparks our recipe ideas and  pushes us to go that same day to the market and buy the different ingredients. It's very important for us to offer the clients something that we would love to eat.

 

HCUPR: Is there a message you would give to today's young entrepreneurs?

 

Luis Bautista: One can have a million ideas but you have to follow through and put them in action. Don't think about it too much and don't doubt it; share your ideas with other people that are starting to develop their own ideas and could give you some positive energy, motivation, or even change your idea into something better. There are incentives for young entrepreneurs ages 16-35 in which the government excuses them from paying some tax incentives in the first three years of operation. A lot of people believe that to start a business you need a lot of money, but my brother and I worked for almost minimum wage and with an initial investment of $100 each. We bought a couple of fanny packs to keep the money in and headed out to buy the fruit to make the popsicles and see what happens next. Everything starts with an experiment, and I believe it's important that in those first weeks you develop a good idea, a strategic plan, and then you put it in action later on. That way, you're going to see where you're winning, where you're failing, where you can improve, and as a business owner you have to take all of this and better yourself every day. The thing I most love is that each day I’m learning something new since we take care of making and marketing the product, doing the accounting, and learning about everything that has to do with permits, and later on working on the business plan for financing so that we can build a stable business. These are experiences you don't learn in college, you learn them with experience while being in action everyday to build something new.

 

HCUPR: What is your business goal?

 

Luis Bautista: Our short term goal would be to have a cart where we can establish ourselves a certain amount of days a week some time and also to continue doing events like birthdays and people have even approached us to work at a wedding. We want to work for different school to see what we can do to continue selling our product there. In a year, maybe, I wish to find a way that I could export our product because it's important to stay focused on developing the product and to start to grow not only locally but globally, as well.

 

HCUPR: What's your favorite flavor?

Luis Bautista: That's a hard question to answer since I love every single flavor! I would say it depends on the mood, if it's day, night, or if I want something fruity. The coquito flavor is delicious, it was released this week and it's had really good feedback. I know that it's going to be really popular on the holidays but if I want to feel refreshed I prefer passion fruit or kiwi-strawberry.

I must say that here in HCUPR we are really proud of the “Paleteros” and everything that they have accomplished, and we wish them the best of luck! Also to those soon to be young entrepreneurs we hope you take the risk and we are looking forward to being your clients someday.