The well-known “valley of death” that entrepreneurs face was calculated to take three years, on average, but the global health crisis of Covid-19 caused that risk to decrease. Now businesses can die in a shorter period than anticipated, even within months of starting.
That bleak and bumpy outlook may frighten hardened dreamers in the country, but that has not been a reason to be defeated.
The brave who have made the decision to open businesses in the midst of the pandemic have proven to be resilient, persevering, creative and optimistic because their goal is to make a difference from each of those business models that become the family sustenance, for the founders and the entire production chain that surrounds them.
The examples below are a sample from a wider universe, and “boy, they inspire!” That is the message that they themselves want to convey by sharing their life testimonies, because it is not easy to recognize the effort it requires, the sacrifices, the sleeplessness and failures that are part of that valley, which should not be called death, but rather the hope.
It is valid to feel identified with these entrepreneurs, because one of the greatest lessons that the pandemic has left for everyone is to be more empathetic.
Chrysalis: Transforming Lives
Dania de la Peña lost her job last year due to the pandemic. That was a major blow in his life, but he took it as an opportunity to start a business that he had in mind for several years.
Chrysalis consists of capturing on a fabric, specifically a handkerchief, images that convey an emotion, some experience or memory, through a personalized and subtle accessory.
For the entrepreneur, overcoming the pandemic year continues to be a great challenge because she continues to learn new techniques.
De la Peña believes that it is important to study the market to learn more about customer tastes and new trends, while continuing to collect information and develop their skills to grow. It is currently analyzing options to position itself in Costa Rica and the United States, where it has achieved good acceptance, and hopes to form alliances that allow it to perfect textile design and raise the quality of its products.
“I am currently looking at new options to make myself known, expand and go further every day, and be able to transmit the message to people who still do not know the job, who keep in mind that a handkerchief is a versatile trend that does not go out of style” says De la Peña.
Mary Creaciones: Weaving dreams
For Mary García, the idea of entrepreneurship came at an unexpected moment, because for several years she had started a project without knowing that it would become a business.
Losing her mother at age 20 was devastating for the whole family and she recalls that among the things she inherited they found a crochet needle and a half-finished dress for her niece. At that time, her sister asked her for help to finish it because it would be a beautiful keepsake, and for her daughter to wear it would be even more special. Garcia accepted. That was the first of many pieces that he began to make.
Most were gifts for her relatives, but there came a time when her daughter and niece encouraged her to create a business and together they created the logo of Mary Creations.
It has not been easy to keep the idea afloat because gaining the trust of customers requires dedication to get the recommendation to be by word of mouth. That strategy has earned him more requests “made from the heart,” as his motto cites.
One of García’s purposes is to grow with her business model and provide employment to more women who, like her, seek to support their families through an activity that also helps as therapy, and at the same time turns them into artisans.
Pidza: A pizza made to measure and with a lot of imagination
José Carlos Álvarez worked in a renowned restaurant, but it closed due to the pandemic. When he was left without a fixed income, he decided to prepare various types of sauces, which he called Aderezos José Carlos, and began to distribute them at home among his acquaintances and clients, especially during the time of mobility restrictions.
That first step was an impulse because it managed to publicize and position its products. When they reopened the country, door-to-door sales dropped a bit, and he noticed that the toppings could be combined with the pizza dough.
He decided to create a new concept called Pidza, along with his wife, Lucía de Álvarez, who aims to provide a personalized experience to the diner, by creating their own pizza. The customer is allowed to select dough, ingredients and the dressing or sauce of their choice, and then cook the pizza in a wood oven, in express time.
Husbands and entrepreneurs consider it important to have more support for small businesses that need access to credit, in order to grow businesses and generate more jobs.
The idea is to open more stores in the short term and turn the concept into something innovative that can be imitated at home and abroad. In addition, advice and preparation is essential to continue implementing best practices, they commented.
Guatemalan Hat: Artwork in a hat
Ana Patricia Ortega is founder of Guatemalan Hat, an undertaking that started due to the cancellation of his employment contract due to the pandemic.
For several years, Ortega had the idea of venturing into artistic painting on some original material in Guatemala.
So he invested a small capital in the purchase of hats, paints and brushes. Later, with the support of his family, son and friends, he made a catalog of his creations. He began promoting his work on social networks, a decision that gave positive results.
Ortega has had the opportunity to send his designs through his clients outside of Guatemala to places like Miami, United States; Spain, Mexico and Germany. Now it aims to grow locally and internationally.
Despite being a small business, Ortega created a social project called “sombrero with a purpose”, to financially support families in need, especially those affected by the pandemic and storms Eta and Iota, which impacted various departments of the country. in November last year.
Lola Bistro Bus: A very familiar treat
The Pérez Monterroso family is passionate about Guatemalan cuisine. Motivated by the entrepreneurial spirit of their “aunt Lola”, the seasoning that has characterized them for more than 12 years arises.
The initiative was born in the heart of a neighborhood in zone 7, in Guatemala City, where they sold chapines snacks, but, a few months after the first case of covid-19 was confirmed in the country, they built a formal space .
Despite the risk, they opened a family restaurant called Lola Bistro Bus to become a welcoming space and at the same time offer an innovative concept in image and gastronomic offer.
Lucrecia Pérez shares that this year they expanded a terrace, which has helped them offer an outdoor space and allows them to provide a safer option for those who visit them. Most of the customers are neighbors. In addition, they implemented the corresponding biosecurity measures.
“The idea is to provide a space full of flavor and culture. Improving and decorating the terrace is the main goal for the end of this year; finish complementing the place with a more innovative, creative, different environment and highlight all the good things that the place has, ”says Pérez.
Takito Pérez: Tacos with a very chapin touch
Jorge Mario González and his wife, Valentina, are the founders of Takito perez, a truck that sells tacos, tortas, quesadillas and other dishes with a touch of Guatemalan flavor.
González studied gastronomy before opening his business, but when he was left without a permanent job, he decided to undertake. Everything went smoothly, but with the entry of the pandemic they were seriously affected during the months of mobility restriction and confinement, because they canceled five events that were already scheduled, among which there were reservations in call centers, steps and pedals and private activities they would attend, for which they had prepared with more than 80 pounds of meat.
For that reason they decided to offer combos at home for customers to prepare their own tacos. Curiously, those who gave them the most support were Twitter users. This action allowed them to survive during the most difficult months.
Currently they are established in a fixed point of sale, in zone 9, and they have allied with another entrepreneur, so they have all benefited.