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The Startup Journal Founder Interview: Alejandro Russo, Constructing the Candela Spiced Rum Model

For the subsequent entry in The Startup Journal’s founder interview collection, we’re that includes Alejandro Russo, founding father of Candela Mamajuana. Candela Mamajuana is an alcohol/spirits startup model that’s bringing the Dominican Republic’s native rum to the world.

Candela Mamajuana was born after Alejandro grew to become fascinated by mamajuana (a spiced rum native to the Dominican Republic) after it was served to him at a lodge bar within the Dominican Republic. He seized the chance to deliver a singular providing to the beverage market.

Candela just isn’t Alejandro’s first startup. After first working in banking and finance, Alejandro began and exited two different companies earlier than bringing his advertising and branding experience to Candela. Co-founded in 2016 by the mom and son duo, Lillian Arinoviche and Alejandro Russo, Candela is now scaling its distribution and is out there on-line and all through Florida, California, New York, and the Dominican Republic.

We interviewed Alejandro to get extra insights into his startup’s launch and his entrepreneurial journey…

TSM: Describe the Candela mission in 10 phrases or much less:

Alejandro: Share the best expression of the DR’s native spiced rum.

TSM: With a bit extra element, inform us extra in regards to the Candela story?

Alejandro: In 2016, I based Candela after I used to be fascinated by this drink served to me at a lodge bar within the Dominican Republic. Intrigued by its easy style and unique spice flavors, I used to be shocked to search out out that I couldn’t purchase this magical drink known as mamajuana and take it dwelling with me. Thousands and thousands of individuals had been consuming mamajuana yearly, but there wasn’t a model making it. It was solely made artisanally. That’s how the concept to deliver the best expression of this iconic Dominican drink to the remainder of the world was born.

TSM: What makes Candela Mamajuana so distinctive that make it promising for the enterprise? 

Alejandro: Because the fastest-growing premium spiced rum in Florida, Candela is the main mamajuana model. Our product ensures high quality in each bottle. For starters, we’re one of many few manufacturers to make use of 100% pure elements solely– this implies no synthetic colours, taste or components. Our rum can also be created from contemporary sugarcane juice and never molasses, like most rums. That is what really units us aside. It’s like evaluating an orange juice from focus to a fresh-squeezed orange juice. Candela is as pure and contemporary as will be. And as if that weren’t sufficient, our manufacturing course of is powered by renewable vitality, reusing the byproduct generated from the cane juice extraction course of.

TSM: What advertising techniques are you utilizing to construct the model and place Candela Mamajuana within the aggressive premium liquor house?

Alejandro: We’re a fairly small model, so we don’t have the budgets that our opponents do! Which means we’ve to excel in methods they’ll’t. Our technique consists of getting liquid to lips – making tastings as accessible as they are often is what it’s all about. For now, it’s principally been the product talking for itself after which spreading by way of phrase of mouth. Our product is exclusive within the sense that it supplies a a lot smoother rum that stands aside from some other bottle on the shelf. We’re large on getting the product in entrance of recent audiences by way of tastings and in addition by way of our accommodations within the Dominican Republic, the place 1000’s of individuals strive Candela each day!

TSM: Additionally on the enterprise aspect, along with the advertising challenges of launching and scaling Candela, what have been the opposite major challenges in your scaleup journey? Hiring? High quality management? Capital?

Alejandro: There have been so many challenges!  Once I was first elevating capital to get this began, no one was . I acquired so many no’s that it was exhausting to recollect why I used to be doing this. Then I’d have a sip of my drink and it could all hit me once more. Then we’d get a buyer overview raving about our product, saying the way it was the most effective liquid they’ve tasted and it could add gas to our fireplace. Entrepreneurs that know they’ve acquired gold can’t take heed to the naysayers. Tune them out. Focus in your ultimate imaginative and prescient and work your butt off. Each single a part of making this dream come true has been a problem – however you energy by way of it and maintain going till issues turn into actual.

TSM: Describe your expertise with elevating capital for Candela. Did you bootstrap the entire enterprise or usher in outdoors buyers?

Alejandro: Initially, Candela Mamajuana was all bootstrapped between my mom and I. We barely had cash to do something, however we made it work. As soon as the enterprise was in a greater place and able to scale, we raised cash from a few VCs and buyers.

TSM: Did going by way of the method of elevating capital affect your imaginative and prescient and technique for the enterprise? In that case, how?

Alejandro: It’s important to watch out who you take heed to. Some buyers have genuinely been very profitable doing what you’re doing and there’s quite a bit to be taught from them. Others assume they know, however haven’t truly had real-world success doing what you’re making an attempt to do. 

TSM: Do you may have a thought in regards to the Candela long run or “exit” choices? The place does it go from right here?

Alejandro: I’m simply centered on constructing the most effective model and enterprise I can. What occurs sooner or later might be a results of the work we do at this time, so I’m simply executing relentlessly in “the now,” however guided by our long run imaginative and prescient.

TSM: Going again to your early profession choices, inform us what elements influenced your choice to be an entrepreneur? 

Alejandro: I come from a really entrepreneurial household and confirmed curiosity in changing into one from a younger age. My mother, particularly, at all times inspired me to use myself and make my very own approach. Additionally, I studied finance and economics that are undoubtedly associated to operating a enterprise, however in follow, have much less of an affect than the precise work I’ve needed to do over time. You possibly can examine all you need and fill your wall with diplomas, however nothing beats real-world expertise.

TSM: How do you deal with the problem of balancing the calls for of entrepreneurship with private life duties and parenthood?

Alejandro: It’s not simple! That’s for certain. Having children makes entrepreneurship harder, however extra profitable on the similar time. You might have much less time, however you additionally turn into extra centered on the issues that matter. Each minute turns into extra impactful.  

TSM: What’s crucial factor you may inform different startup founders?

Alejandro: Simply bounce in. Discover a chance you want and dive in head first. Don’t do issues midway. Don’t overthink issues both. You most likely received’t know lots of the solutions and you’ll actually make a bunch of errors. The sooner you begin, the quicker you’re going to get to success.

TSM: Lastly, Candela Mamajuana sounds scrumptious. The place can I, I imply, our readers, get some?  

Alejandro: Candela is distributed all through Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, and the Dominican Republic. For extra particulars on Candela Mamajuana or to buy our product, please go to the web site and comply with alongside on Instagram @drinkcandela.

TSM: Thanks a lot in your time and good luck in your continued success!

Alejandro Russo

Alejandro Russo, Founder & CEO, Candela Mamajuana



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