Q: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: El Tri Market is one of the leading online Mexican Grocery Stores that caters the US Market. Founded in 2011, we have successfully carved a niche in the market with our array of 100% Authentic Mexican products.
We decided to open this business for two reasons:
- To make the products more easily available to people who have a hard time finding all the products they like in just one place
- To promote Mexican Products because we believe in their superb quality and their diverse variety
Our mission is to promote Mexican Culture through our array of products as well as to establish close connections with our clients. We understand customer service and its importance and we strive to offer complete customer satisfaction by meeting their inquiries in a prompt manner.
Q: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: Most of my work experience has come as CFO for a Private Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico. There I could learn the importance of customer satisfaction, among many other things. We take pride in having received the following achievements:
- We became the first Private Hospital in Latin America to be certified with ISO 9001
- We grew the EBITDA of the Hospital 10 times in 10 years
- We became the most visited Hospital in the North of Mexico since 2005
- We have the highest Customer Satisfaction Ratings in our Industry
My entrepreneurial background started with the example I had from my father, who is the founder of the Hospital. Working closely with an entrepreneur has influenced me enormously. His energy and determination inspired me to become an entrepreneur myself.
Q: What ignited the spark in you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: While studying in the US, me and my brothers (who are my business partners) quickly discovered how difficult it was to find really authentic Mexican products even in large cities. We also took notice of people who traveled to Mexico for a vacation and would come back with suitcases filled to the brim with Mexican food products that they could never find in America. We figured we can provide a faster and more reliable way of getting these products through a website, and that is how the idea of our business came about.
Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: In general, during my period working as the CFO of a Hospital, I could realize that good employees are key to success. It is crucial to find the right employees and then constantly motivate and train them to enhance their skills and knowledge. Some of my biggest accomplishments have come from special projects where team work and having great employees have proved to be really beneficial for the business.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
1.Be passionate about what you want to start, without passion, you will quickly go tired of what you are doing.
2.Understand that there is a learning curve where the initial stage is filled with excitement for starting something new, and then that excitement diminishes when you see that there is a lot of hard work involved in being an entrepreneur. Realize that there lies the breaking point and that if you work hard and make good decisions, you will get excited again when you start seeing the great results. It is totally worth it.
3. There is no substitute for being consistent. It is true that working smart is very important, but a perfect combination of dedicated work and strategic timings will increase your chance of succeeding in what you are doing.
Q: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: I had the privilege of having a father who trusted me enough to let me make my own decisions at work. That paid off big time because from an early age I learned the meaning of accountability and responsibility. Hence I would not change anything about my business upbringing.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Understanding your business
- Establishing goals (and writing them down)
- Work very hard towards achieving your goals
Q: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: It depends on the idea and everything that surrounds it. You have to take into account how much the idea is costing you and how much time you are investing in it. I do recommend that for major ideas you set up limits as to what you would like to invest in them.
Q: How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: Between my different projects, about 8-10 hours a day
Q: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: It did not affect my family life.
Q: What motivates you?
Ans: Being told I can´t do something and then proving everybody wrong is what keeps me going amidst all odds. Providing a great service and exceeding my customers and my own expectations motivates me.
Q: How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Often I do it by listening and paying close attention to my surroundings. You´ll be surprised (if you are willing to pay close attention) at how many times new and great ideas are right in front of you.
Q: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: My greatest fear is to stop being productive. I truly believe that it is very important to always be of use to society, no matter what are your endeavors. I try to maintain a balanced lifestyle where my energy is channeled in a positive way like exercising or spending quality time with my family and friends
Q: What are your ideals?
Ans: I have always believed in fairness and in doing the right thing, I try to live my life through my core values and principles and that is what I try to reflect in my work.
Q: How do you define success?
Ans: The ability to stand up when you fall and to never give up until you have achieved your goals.
Q: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: In order to achieve long term success, put in the hours, practice your craftsmanship in whatever activity you want to become good at.
Q: Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: The capital for our business came from me and my brothers, who are also my business partners.
Q: How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: By catering to our customers needs. It is important to let the customer know that we value them. That is done through actions, like effective communication and by offering them some added value to what they were used to get.
Q: How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: I wanted to live in a place where my suppliers would be fairly close to me so as to considerably reduce our shipping costs.
Q: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: I hope there were, but in reality there isn´t a formula to become a successful entrepreneur. There are however certain principles that increase your chances of success. Some of them are:
- Never neglect your clients
- Always analyze your competition
- Work hard and smart (put in the hours of good quality work)
Q: If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: I would talk to Winston Churchill because he was the quintessential example of never giving up. He worked tirelessly to convince the world about the threat of Nazi Germany. He was ridiculed time and time again, but he was never discouraged and ended up pretty much saving the world from tyranny.
Q: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My family and their ethics.
Q: What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favorite book?)
Ans: ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed is one of the books that has shaped the way I think about business and about life in general. I highly recommend it as it debunks the talent myth.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: That whatever I do or don´t do, I am ultimately the person responsible for
Q: To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Ans: I attribute most of my success to my core understanding of my strong and weak points. In other words, I have always been very grounded in terms of what I am good at and what I need to improve, and that has been a key factor in accelerating success for my business.
- Studying your competition
- It is essential to accept some failure as part of the learning curve that ultimately leads to success
- Always be there for your clients
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: All of our most satisfying moments revolve round our customers and building relationships with them. Any time we exceed our customer expectations in terms of what we provide them is of immense satisfaction for us, because we always try to put ourselves in their shoes.
There are several examples of this which I would like to quote:
“Thanks again for your great selection of products and superb customer service!” – K.H. Oregon
Here is an example of a person whom we corrected a mistake on his order
“GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE. special thanks to ROBERTO LEVINSON who was very professional and polite, and took action in a matter of minutes! i love this product and will definitely buy from you again. thanks.- ” M.H California
It is all about creating long lasting connections with the people that you are offering a service to.
Q: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: I think there are two major differences. The first one is the mindset. Entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because most of them believe that they can succeed in owning their own business, so they are confident, unfortunately many times they are overconfident, which is one of the reasons many startups fail. The second reason, which is connected to the first one, is the level of risk-taking. Entrepreneurs usually have a higher tolerance for risk. This is not saying that one is better than the other. You still need emotional intelligence in any kind of job to succeed, but the skills that you develop are different.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: We have done radio ads, promotion fliers, participating at events, working with PR Companies. I believe that the most effective form of marketing for our particular business is SEO.
Q: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: Our organization’s culture is based around providing immediate quality attention to our customers. Our background has been in the service industry for over a decade where customer service was the most challenging aspect of our job (we worked at a Private Hospital in Mexico). We believe that the principles of customer service are pretty much the same in every industry. Empathize with your client and solve their problems immediately.
Q: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: In the past I was eager to start a project without analyzing all the data thoroughly.
Q: How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: Analyzing the information that is at hand is crucial. If the damage has been done, then try to learn from that experience and take only what was useful (even when something doesn’t go as planned,there are certain things that you can still rescue from that).
Q: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: I love to exercise and and enjoy Salsa dance. I try to go out with friends and family whenever I can.
Q: What makes you happy?
Ans: My family makes me happy. Learning something new, exercising, doing something hard, a nice conversation, meeting interesting people, teaching and sharing my thoughts, etc.
Q: What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: During my 20´s when I started working, I was really dedicated. When most of my friends were still thinking about parties and going out, I was mostly focused on becoming good at my job. I own that mostly to the fact that I was encouraged by my elder brother who worked with me in the Hospital. He is a great example of discipline and of tenacity.
Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: I admire Companies that are passionate about customer service like the Japanese Nikko Hotels or grubhub.com In both cases I have had enough experiences with them to testify how consistent they are in customer care services.
Q: Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
Ans: Being active in different projects. I plan to start a few online businesses over the next couple of years.
Q: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Ans: I would probably ask about the role of higher education in the formation of an entrepreneur.