Startup To Scale

128. Leverage Equity Crowd Funding to Attract Angel Investors

August 03, 2023 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 128
Startup To Scale
128. Leverage Equity Crowd Funding to Attract Angel Investors
Show Notes Transcript
We all know that raising your first few fundraising rounds can be incredibly challenging, with many investors wanting to see elusive “proof of success” before they invest large sums of money. One way to lower the cost of investment and show interest in your business is through an equity crowd funding campaign.

But here’s the magic, you don’t need to only raise from “consumers”, you can create a campaign to raise smaller checks from angel investors, who instead of having to contribute $50,000, can contribute $5,000. It lower’s their initial risk threshold, while allowing them to experience working with you before writing a larger check.

Join me as I talk to David Cisneros, founder of Origo Brands about how he’s leveraging this approach to fundraise and how you can do it too.

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Leverage Equity Crowd Funding to Attract Angel Investors

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] Hey everyone, Jordan here and looking forward to today's conversation with David Cisneros, who is the founder Origo Brands who's really focused on bringing premium Latin products to the table. David, welcome. 

David Cisneros: Thank you, Jordan. I appreciate it. 

Jordan Buckner: So I'd love for you to give a quick 30 second overview pitch of what your products are.

David Cisneros: Well, I think you just said it pretty well. We're looking to bring our premium, Hispanic Latin products to the market direct from the source with authentic ingredients. Also paying attention to obviously taste and quality products and products that pay attention to social responsibility, healthier for you products as well.

Jordan Buckner: You've been in the food industry for over 30 years, what really inspired you to launch your own brand? 

David Cisneros: You know, we just wanted to have control of our own destiny. Our ability to build something that was based on all those years of experience, of doing things wrong, doing things right and paying attention to not [00:01:00] only the food products themselves, but how we source them.

Sustainably , from Mexico, from New Mexico, from Guatemala, and the products that we work with and the sources that we get them from. 

Jordan Buckner: What's been the biggest learning of building a brand for you or the biggest challenges? 

David Cisneros: Well, it's, you know, building a small company, as you know, is hard work.

It's basically nonstop but I don't mind, I really appreciate the opportunity. We have a great team here at Or igo Brand and we're building the US market. We also are selling some of our products internationally because of our international capability. So appreciate my family's heritage of being able to bring healthy premium latin products to the market. 

Jordan Buckner: Can you walk through some of your first products and why you started to with those, I know you have like a coffee and a agave salsa. Can you tell us more about those? 

David Cisneros: Sure. Yeah. We have three products. Glad to start with Avenidas Coffee, and you know, a lot of coffee comes in bulk through brokers.

It's got put another label on it, whether that [00:02:00] be Folgers or Labasta our idea was let's put a brand that is partially owned by the Guatemalans and partially owned from growing fields in Guatemala. It doesn't need another brand name to be considered to be premium. Guatemala Coffee, like Antigua, some of the best coffee in the world is delicious.

It's sustainably grown if you've been to Guatemala. It's a beautiful place. It's basically a national park. Most of the coffee growing capabilities in national parks. So we wanted to bring sustainable coffee, what we say in Spanish, directed to.

People here without the broker middleman, so to speak. So our second product is called Monstruo de Gila BBQ Salsa and we love Gila monsters because they're in the southwest and northern Mexico and they're very beautiful creatures that are. Unfortunately endangered but we wanted to use them as a symbol, both of the spiciness of our product.

Barbecue, salsa. Salsa, as you know, in Spanish and [00:03:00] sauce. So we wanted to bring a barbecue salsa that's different than the traditional barbecue sauces that are on the market with extra Chile and spices that you're not in those barbecue sauces for Chile. In our new Mexican sauce and in our Sonoran sauce from Northern Mexico, we have a chita pen or bird pepper, and a.

Our third product is Chantico Agave, and this is a real deal breaker because it's amazing what agave can do. It's less sweet, it's lower gi, it's water soluble, it's vegan. We have the only powder that I'm aware of in the US plus syrup, so it replaces honey as a vegan product. It also replaces sugar which is higher GI than our product. It's made in a beautiful facility.

Certified, organic and is gonna fit on the shelf in all kinds of places and goes in all kinds of products. So those are our three [00:04:00] core products. 

Jordan Buckner: Now, David, tell me, you are launching a new brand and you decided to start three sub-brands within there. Why did you make that decision that seems like an additional challenge to add to your plate?

David Cisneros: It really is. And, you know, we understood what we were doing. We actually have a lot more ideas. We kind Origo Brands as. Latin brand factory. You know, I think we have the ability to bring other brands to market that are gonna meet that same kind of qualification of being healthier, premium Latin products.

But we decided to focus just on these three, and these are areas that we have a lot of experience in and that's why we chose these three errors. Yeah, it's a little bit audacious, but you know, for us it made sense to bring all three together. I.

Jordan Buckner: How are you planning to market each of these? Will each have its own marketing presence, kinda highlighting each product?

Or are you going to be marketing them all together under the Origo brands? 

David Cisneros: Mostly they're going to be different. You know, Origo Brands is the parent company, but it's kind of behind the scenes. So [00:05:00] each brand is being promoted in and of itself because these categories are very different. There's some crossover, for example, which is one of the ideas we had.

You can use agave and Gila barbecue salsa, and all kinds of barbecuing options. Coffee is amazing what you can do with it in terms of desserts , and not just coffee drinking. So you know, we're gonna brand each one of them for what they are, which is a unusual, authentic product direct from the source 

Jordan Buckner: I was just looking through. And each of the products and sub-brands has their own website, their own kind of styling for that. What does that allow you to do by keeping each one independent? 

David Cisneros: Well, again, each one of has their own integrity as a product. You know, agave, as you know, a lot of the agave is used for tequila production.

So. Agave in a different form as a sweetener, but agave has grown in Guadalajara and Mexico for many years, and unusually is mostly just in Mexico. You don't see agave growing much in other countries. So it's kind of [00:06:00] like, we look at it as a champagne. So it's a very unique product, both, for its geographic. Origin. Same thing with the coffee. I mean, we're focusing on Guatemala and coffee because we believe it is some of the best coffee out there. shame to those who sell from other regions whether Jamaican, blue Mountain or things like that. We wanted to focus on Guatemala and in terms of our barbecue salsas, we're.

Gila Monster comes from, and again, that's Northern Mexico New Mexico, and those are the brands that we're carrying 

Jordan Buckner: Each one has their own like storytelling elements around it that make it hard to kind of tell three different stories at one time. And so instead of trying to force them together, you're telling each one to live on its own.

David Cisneros: Exactly, and we have some marketing people that are doing a brilliant job of doing that. Just creative ideas to reflect the cultural elements, the humor that we like to put out there, the music, other Latin elements that I, again, are different than traditional products that are in the market. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I think [00:07:00] that's really exciting.

What are you most excited about as you are getting these products in the market? 

David Cisneros: Just when I get feedback from consumers or from buyers, you know, we've been really fortunate and doing quite well in terms of working with KeHE, UNIFY some food service distributors. We've just been As what chefs want primary agave, and they have 15,000 accounts nationwide.

So we're just excited that people are seeing the vision that we put out there. Recognize the health, recognize the quality, and recognize the growth of Hispanic foods In America. It's booming. 

Jordan Buckner: I also saw that you are fundraising for the business as well. Can you tell me more about those efforts?

David Cisneros: Yeah, about a month ago we started with StartEngine Brands and would welcome anyone to go on StartEngine and look at Origo Brands. We hit over a hundred investors and 150,000 within four weeks. Our next target is 250,200 investors, and obviously we're gonna be applying that money to scale up our production.

Our distribution, marketing, you know, all the costs that go [00:08:00] along with building a business. So that's the reason we're crowdfunding. It's a much better way for us. We love this opportunity rather than going out into the equity markets and getting money that way is, you know, hopefully getting five or 600 investors that are part of our team, early adapters, people that love the products, they're gonna get free products just by working with us.

So yeah, that's why we're doing crowdfunding. 

Jordan Buckner: Congrats on the initial success. I know getting that momentum going can be challenging. What have you found have been the keys to driving your equity crowdfunding campaign and bringing on investors and building the awareness and getting people to actually invest?

David Cisneros: Well, it's not easy. Again, there's a lot of ideas out there and a number of companies that are on StartEngine and other equity crowdfunding sites. Platforms. But I do believe that our Latin food products is very unusual. You'll see a lot of high tech products and other food products, but we're a very unusual offering and I think people are really.

Passionate and you know, everybody in the United States, there's a [00:09:00] great number of people that are Hispanic, but there's also a number of people that love Latin Mexican food. So I think we're trying to effectively market and provide a story and a message to those people. 

Jordan Buckner: For other founders listening in who are thinking about going the equity crowdfunding rate, I know you're still in the middle of a campaign.

Any suggestions that you would make in terms of how other founders can share their story or get the word out? Is it really making sure you are, like, are you doing a lot of outreach through social media, through LinkedIn to bring in investors? Where are the ways that you're kind of tactically using to build your campaign?

David Cisneros: Yeah, and it's hard work. You know, it's probably six months to get ready, make sure your, all your books and everything are in order. This is governed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, so it's a very serious form of revenue raising. And then once your platform goes live, you just have to work every day to reach out to friends and family, what we call lead investors, people who.

May be interested in investing more and then using social media. [00:10:00] Obviously, you know, the major platforms of Facebook, Instagram YouTube and Google Ads along with LinkedIn to reach out to people who are traditionally, people who have invested previously or has shown an inclination to get involved in crowd funding.

We're also doing national email campaigns. And newsletters out to investors to really get the message out. And as you know, a lot of the larger investors kind of wait and watch and see how you do early on before they jump in. So that's why we're working a lot with our friends and family and our lead investors and our business community to get started.

Jordan Buckner: Yeah. You know, I'm curious in terms of people who are investing, because I've been learning a lot more about the space and I think there's been. Some per opinion that like it, you know, this is great because it allows potential consumers to invest in the brand and support you. But also is a way of allowing some investors to put money in traditionally where maybe they're an angel investor and they're not ready to write like a large check, but want to be involved and see the [00:11:00] potential of the company.

Have you had conversations with, maybe would be angel investors who decided to participate in the crowdfunding round and what are some of those conversations like? 

David Cisneros: Yeah, exactly. And those are what we call lead investors. And we have a target of about 60 people that we do business with that we know through our equity efforts.

 And so yeah, I think they do exactly what you just said. They look at it as kind of angel investing versus a, a full on first level invest. And so it's easier for them and they're more interested in putting in that level of money. And we're glad to have that because again, we like having a group of small investors, but also some mid-size investors.

And we're talking to lots of different people that I think are interested maybe in the future in investing more, but this round they wanna do an angel investment model. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah. You know, I'm just thinking about this in the approach because I am talking with a lot of founders right now, and they're struggling to get investors to write larger checks, especially for newer brands, and kind of coupling it with this equity [00:12:00] crowdfunding round style could be a way of, you know, maybe instead of investor writing a, a.

25 or $50,000 check to start. Maybe they're able to put a thousand dollars in, but you're able to cast a little bit of a wider net to get some of those low level investments for them to take a shot on you and then they can get inside their information to learn about your brand, learn how you're operating, and then potentially make larger checks later.

David Cisneros: Exactly. I mean, you know, it's Angel catch 22. For small companies, you have a great idea, but you need to establish proof of concept and that usually takes money. As founders, we put a lot of money in the business already, and so, you know, we wanna crowdfunding gives you an opportunity to take that first step, which is hard to get from the equity markets.

Jordan Buckner: I think that's great. And so, you know, any founders who are listening to this with traditional equity markets , being very tight, especially for newer companies I encourage you to get creative in terms of how you're thinking about building on investments because every business takes a lot of money to start a lot of time, and so get creative in [00:13:00] terms of how you are sourcing that and how you're putting those deals together.

David, anything else that we, I haven't asked about that you love to share about your journey? 

David Cisneros: Well, this company comes from my family. The culture that I grew up on, my uncle was a Presbyterian minister. We would get together on Sunday after church and we didn't have a lot of money. My family, extended family.

So 30 or 40 of us, oftentimes after church, we'd go eat at somebody's house, we'd set up cart tables and we'd eat green Chile from either Pueblo or, or New Mexico, Pinto beans, flour tortillas. And that was our food. And it wasn't expensive. It wasn't fancy, but it was delicious. And that was the tradition that I was raised on and I wanted, To take that tradition, but turn it into also innovative ideas about how Latin food, again, can also be healthier.

Can be socially responsible and can be authentic. In the days of Tex-Mex, now that there are authentic products out there, there are [00:14:00] many Hispanic food traditions from Cubano to Puerto Rican to Mexican. You know, there's hundreds of them. Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, Northern Mexican, so bringing some of those traditions to.

So that they recognize, just like Italian food isn't just red sauce, that this is more about history and culture and something that I'm very proud of. 

Jordan Buckner: Excellent. David, I'm really looking forward to continuing to observe , and watch your journey as you're growing and wishing you the best of success.


David Cisneros: for being on the day. Thank you, Jordan. Really appreciate it. Thank you very much.