At the end of 2014 when it already had a consolidated company that exported 20,000 piñatas a month and had a workforce of 64 employees, Yanalteh Solís , founder of Piñata2Go ( Piñata To Go ), was embezzled by a “trusted” employee with 2 million of pesos, while she was on vacation with her daughter.
Recovering from that moment took about two years and a lot of work, because reaching that level of sales had not been an easy task. The story of Piñata2Go goes back to Querétaro in 2011 when the entrepreneur developed her idea in the business incubator of the Technological Institute of Monterrey (ITESM) for the export of Mexican products and crafts.
From the conception of the product, Yanalteh was clear that to succeed with something representative of Mexico as the piñatas, I needed to give them a turn that would stand out from the rest, also had to prevent them from being mistreated during the shipment.
Thus Piñata2go was born, with the traditional peaks, but folding, inspired by a Chinese paper lamp and reinforced to support four kilos of sweets, a product ready to take in a box, in a practical way and without mistreating. The elaboration of the piñata takes about 20 minutes in the production line, in which everything is done by hand, except the gluing of the metallic paper and the cutting of cardboard.
This innovation to the design of the piñata, registered according to the regulations applicable to Industrial Property, caught the attention of two of the Shark Tank Mexico sharks, Arturo Elías Ayub, and Rodrigo Herrera, who in 2016 became the only members of Yanalteh to inject 2.5 million pesos to the company.
Walk before running
For Yanalteh, daily work is the key to success , since she produced the first 100 piñatas in 2011 she went out in search of clients. The entrepreneur took her car and drove to Texas, United States, with the trunk full of her product to reach the final consumer in celebrations and fairs such as May 5.
One of the main challenges for Yanalteh was to gain the trust of his clients, “being a woman and young, they do not give you the same credibility, so I had to break paradigms with my clients and make them trust”.
The word began to come and by 2014 he found her first big customer, the Walgreens chain of self-service stores, which bought a batch of 24,000 piñatas to be sold throughout the United States.
Although, the deal was successful, over time the entrepreneur considers that going with a new product to an international market was very risky on their part. “When undertaking, the first thing must be to crawl that is to sell locally; then, to walk that is to open a market within the country; and in the end, running that is definitely the export, “she says.
Before sending a product abroad, she recommends testing it locally, “if something goes wrong, if it is damaged or if people do not understand the instructions, you are closer to repair or replace it,” he explains. According to your experience, if you send it out directly, it is more difficult to control the operation in the field and monitor what consumers think or even go through the points of sale to see that it is on display correctly.
In 2014, the company manufactured 20,000 piñatas a month, had a production plant with 64 employees and exported to the United States, Germany, Dubai and Shanghai , to name a few. Everything was going well, until, at the end of this same year, fraud occurred.
“I had to close the plant, I owed a lot of money, I was wrong with my clients, they closed the doors of many places and I had morals on the floor,” Yanalteh recalls, but despite this, she could not sit idly by, so to settle his accounts, he moved to Monterrey and took a job as a marketing manager at a piñata manufacturer in 2015.
Two years passed, Yanalteh lived stable with a fixed salary, but the plan to continue with her company never ceased. Almost as a fall from heaven, there came an opportunity that could not refuse: participate in the second season of the Shark Tank Mexico program, here was opened the possibility of giving continuity to the company thanks to the investment received for 2.5 million pesos in exchange for the 50% of the company’s shares.
“With this capital I did wonders, we reassembled the production plant, now in the State of Mexico, and in January 2018 we produced the first piñatas with the investment of Shark Tank,” says Yanalteh, 33 years old today.
Throughout 2018 the company entered 394 points of sale nationwide in the departmental stores Liverpool, Sears, Sanborns and Home Depot, self-service Chedrahui and Amazon e-commerce.
The price to the current final consumer is 299 pesos which, she confesses, leaves her a short profit margin, but that allows her to stay in the market with a competitive cost according to what consumers spend on a piñata.
The folding pinata is made mostly by hand / Image: Entrepreneur in Spanish
Applies international standards
Yanalteh shares that exporting is less difficult than is believed as long as the correct process is followed. The basic principle is to investigate what the country you want to consume consumes, as well as to use export tariff statistics in markets with an interest in Mexican products , as well as the possible marketing and distribution channels of your destination country.
Then, the next step for Piñata2Go was to register with the Federal Taxpayers Registry and obtain its tariff section, which is a unique identification code for international export regulations and conditions. This code can only be granted by a customs agent and is the same for any country, regardless of the language.
When exporting to more than one country, the company has developed a business plan for each destination, since the procedures, regulations and treatment may vary according to the client and the regulations.
Among the costs that Piñata2Go considered before exporting are the taxes (or tariffs), the payment to the customs broker and the type of transport, which varies according to the size, weight, and urgency of the order, which are generally absorbed by the importer.
To determine the responsibilities of the exporter and importer, Yanalteh resorts to the Incoterms or international trade terms that stipulate the rules of voluntary acceptance by both parties regarding the delivery terms and expenses, the risks during shipment and which of the two parties assume them.
One of the advantages of designing a product with the intention of exporting is that you can base yourself on international standards from the beginning. For example, transportation is usually done on pallets or wooden pallets and the packaging of Piñata2Go is made to adjust to the measurements of the pallet, in this way, they send pallets with 360 piñatas each and take advantage of all the available space.
“When you design based on international measures and standards from the beginning, the export process will be easier and you no longer have to adapt your product later,” advises the founder.
Logistics is another of the elements to take care of within the export, Piñata2Go does not have its own transportation, so they outsource their shipments with companies that offer the service to different parts of the country and the world.
For the entrepreneur, the best recommendation is to “find someone to become your export coach”, to advise on concepts or prices for example, and thus avoid taking advantage of your little experience and give you high costs for this reason.
Piñatas2Go‘s current plant has a production capacity of 40,000 units per month, but the growth is gradual, as they currently produce 20,000 and have a workforce of 35 employees. “We have not reached the number of collaborators that we had before the fraud”, says the entrepreneur with her heart up, because she sees that experience as an apprenticeship.
Although, 85% of its production stays in Mexico, the remaining 15% has very good acceptance in 10 countries: the United States, Canada, Switzerland, France, Chile, Germany, Dubai, Shanghai, Australia and Colombia. “My clients have emerged mainly from exhibitions where I approach prospects and offer them my products, they decide if it is viable for their stores or not,” he says.
The entrepreneur summarizes what is needed to stand out abroad. “The key is to produce quality items and deliver in a timely manner, informality brings you bad reputation and if you make a mistake when exporting, be careful! because the voice runs very fast. “
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