Milica Pavlovic is spending three months with RADIUS in Quito, Ecuador and reporting back on her experiences.
After the official wrap-up of the Salto Social program earlier this month, our 5 teams of social entrepreneurs were reunited for Impacto Quito’s Mentor Night community event. To kick off, each team made a brief pitch to an audience of 40+ community members, introducing their social ventures and summarizing their key insights from Salto Social, their next steps, and what they need further help with in order to achieve their business objectives this year.
In the Speed Mentoring portion of the night, the Salto Social teams and fellow mentees had the opportunity to seek guidance on specific questions from the mentors. The 11 Salto Social mentors—socially and environmentally conscious community leaders and innovators across several consumer and commercial good sectors—provided advice and support to our team of entrepreneurs. For example, Carla Pinto, founder of the large and successful Pinto retail clothing brand marketed across Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, connected with Veronica Buitron from Suspiro, Salto Social’s environmentally conscious and very talented handbag designer.
To recap, Salto Social’s 5 teams of social entrepreneurs are:
- Veronica Buitron from Suspiro – An independent textiles designer partnered with local artisans using natural materials and ancient textiles production techniques to produce a diverse line of bags and scarves for the environmentally conscious consumer.
- Jose Fabara & his team from El Carpazo – A popular one-day music festival based in Quito created for musicians by musicians, kicking off its third year on April 25th and attracting widespread attention within Ecuador. This year’s theme is environmental sustainability and awareness, and the lineup includes popular and alternative artists from various musical genres.
- Jorge Flores & Felipe Alvarez from Reino Fungi – A venture formed by a team that cultivates, produces, and is seeking distribution channels for their Oyster mushrooms. The founders of Reino Fungi were inspired to start their venture when they noticed a lack of socially and environmentally responsible products in this niche market, and a demand among vegetarian and vegan consumers, as well as environmentally conscious and gourmet food vendors.
- Ernesto Palacios Merino & his team from Kradac – A company formed by a team of specialized engineers who research, design, and create a range of products that reflect high quality technological solutions to various functional problems. Examples include: specialized robots, alarm systems, and satellite tracking for vehicles.
- Andrea Jaramillo Armijos, Vicente Merino Alvarado & David Benitez Mora from Lunyxtec – A company that aims to reduce and recycle CO2 emissions caused by natural gas consumption and organic waste via their recycling system prototype for agricultural and farm use.
- Learning how to navigate the canvas business model – Veronica from Suspiro and Andrea from Lunyxtec emphasized the importance of learning how to calculate their break even point when developing their marketing strategies
- Developing a clear business plan for the future and recognizing which areas still need improvement.
- Developing crucial organizational skills by investing the time to work through various exercises focused on specific tasks, e.g. conducting a market analysis
Here’s what they said about their next steps:
- Reino Fungi – with the production of their Oyster mushrooms well underway, Jorge and Felipe are now focussed on securing different channels of distribution for their product, including organic & gourmet markets and suitable restaurants.
- Lunyxtec- their next step is to finish the first biodigestor model and to assemble a portable prototype for demonstration so that they can move forward with marketing to target clients.
- Suspiro & El Carpazo – Veronica from Suspiro is focusing her efforts on marketing and sales, both within Ecuador and in the United States. Jose from El Carpazo is also focusing on marketing his upcoming festival and applying new strategies to increase ticket sales.
Here’s what they said about their key challenges & areas where they are still seeking help:
- Boosting product sales – Veronica from Suspiro and Felipe from Reino Fungi are working on better understanding their client segment in order to increase future sales; Andrea from Lunyxtec needs advice to create a marketing plan to gain publicity and manage the competition
- Time constraints – all teams emphasized the challenges of running their ventures while also participating in Salto Social and managing other responsibilities
- Seeking further guidance from mentors with experience in their particular fields – Felipe from Reino Fungi and Jose from El Carpazo are looking to connect with mentors in their specific market niches