Paolo Stagni, Gonzalo Martínez and Ignacio Rotela are three young graduates of the Catholic University who decided to join their talents to found a small company dedicated to the processing of a very common fruit in Paraguay, but at the same time very undervalued and wasted: the mango. . Seeing so many fruits thrown away as garbage, these young entrepreneurs decided that it was time to give them the value they deserve and start processing them to turn them into delicious jams. From the union of forces and ideas emerged the incipient company ReMango, which started off on the right foot by obtaining the Hult Prize Award aimed at young entrepreneurs, and pocketing USD 150,000 for seed capital, money that will be used for the development of the promising venture. Paolo Stagni, CEO, talks about the plans they have for the development of the new venture.
–What do you plan to do with the USD 150,000 prize? What company plans do you plan to invest in?
–We are now in a stage of strategic planning, since we must prepare ourselves in the best possible way for our future in the short and medium term. It is a priority to dedicate all the necessary time to this moment to think and thus make decisions in a responsible manner. The seed capital will be invested in different key areas of ReMango’s business model. In the first place, in the logistics and technology part to optimize our processes. It is easy to say that there are mangoes everywhere and in great abundance, but it is difficult to recover them on an industrial scale, since they are not in a central point, but scattered throughout the national territory. For that purpose, we plan to articulate a network of collectors and massify it, in such a way that we really get to collect the largest amount of fruit. In addition, it is important to have the necessary industrial line for processing the amount of mango that we can collect.
–Do you need a high technological capacity for fruit processing?
–Processing involves different machinery to achieve the result we need. We seek to streamline and scale the processes we are already carrying out. And, as we go through that process, looking at various other technologies that could be included in the model. Last but not least, we will attach great importance to market research and new product development. We know that the mango is a highly nutritious fruit with endless health benefits, we want to develop new options for the market, outside the conventional products that we know, with a strong focus on export.
–Is ReMango already operating as a company? How many people work for you? Since when does it work?
–ReMango is already constituted and operating as a company. During the last mango season (November to February), we executed the project for the first time with its main pillars: the business model, harvesting, processing and marketing. Four collectors and a logistics manager accompanied us during this process, apart from the three of us, the founders. But since 2020 we have been carrying out different isolated pilot tests of each of the pillars of the business model.
–How many tons of mango do you collect and what kind of products do you make?
–Last mango season, which as I mentioned earlier was the first season that we were able to fully execute the project, we harvested 870 kg of mango throughout the Central Department. For this coming season, where we will already have more resources such as seed capital, we want to promote harvesting on a larger scale and, above all, we will already have experience, in order to take advantage of a greater percentage of the 60,000 tons of mangoes that are wasted annually. in all the country. Currently, the products already launched on the market were the social juice, which is an authentic premium natural mango juice, and the social pulp, which we sell directly to companies that want to produce mango-based products. For the coming season, we will be launching new products.
–How will they win over Paraguayan consumers, knowing that it is difficult to convince them to buy a mango jam?
–It is true that it is difficult to convince a local consumer to consume mango-based products, but this is mainly due to the fact that they associate the mango with rotting or because of its fiber and not because of the flavor itself. We had several cases of people who “didn’t like mangoes” who ended up consuming our products. The Creole mango is very sweet and in our process all the fiber is extracted, creating a very attractive product. But yes, a great marketing campaign is necessary to encourage people to try this type of derivative products.
– Do you plan to export? What contacts are you making to win foreign markets?
-Yes, we are targeting the export of our products and we are convinced that this will be the strong point of our business. Now we are learning about the business and gaining experience, but in the medium term, we are sure that we will be able to make our way into international markets and export. Without a doubt, being one of the winners of the Hult Prize gives us a certain prestige and recognition worldwide.
–How do you do when it is not mango season, where do you keep the fruits to have them available all year round?
–There are several other fruits that are wasted in Paraguay, such as apepú, avocado, lemon, grapefruit, to name a few. ReMango seeks to reduce food waste and that does not only involve mangoes. We have as a project to be able to work with other fruits, but it would be in the medium term. We seek to first perfect our process with mangoes and then expand with other fruits, and even in other countries, always with the Paraguayan flag. During the season, the operational part of the business consists of collecting and processing as many mangoes as possible. This processed pulp can be kept frozen for up to 10 months.
How did you decide to present yourself for the award?
–The Student Center of the Faculty of Accounting, Administrative and Economic Sciences of the Catholic University brought the Hult Prize in 2020, through the director of the program, Luciano Sánchez. The Hult Prize is considered the University Student’s Nobel Prize. We believe that all university students should and deserve to have an experience like this. When the program was presented at the university, they told us about changing the world through social entrepreneurship, that we could spend a month living in the castle where Harry Potter was filmed in London, that we could earn a million dollars, all that It was something very attractive, it attracted attention. But the decision to participate was made, more to gain experience and see what came out, than to create a company. So we put together a team with exceptional people and here comes one of the first great things we learned, intuition. We chose ourselves as a team being people more unknown than known, only guided by intuition, but from the little that I knew Gonza and Nacho, something told me that they would be the right people. Indeed, we were not wrong, and we learned about the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people.
The mango is a nutritious fruit, with endless health benefits, we want to develop new options for the market.
The Creole mango is very sweet and in our process all the fiber is extracted, creating a very attractive product. Promotion is needed.
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ReMango gave added value to a wasted fruit in Paraguay