Please introduce yourself: What does your start-up do?
Chocolate bars and crisps, cheese and marmalade: In almost all the sections of every store you will find both sweet and savoury foods and drinks. But there is one section that lacks the counterpart to the sweet groceries: liquors. While there is a broad potential audience craving for piquant spirits, you will hardly find any on the shelves. Even though fiery and savoury Mexikaner cocktail has a fast-growing fanbase within the pub and party scene in Northern Germany, it is, unfortunately, still unavailable in supermarkets.
Papa Fuego wants to change that. We bring the famous pub shot to private households and make sure that our customers can enjoy their favourite savoury drink with friends wherever they like.
How did you come up with an idea and concept? What inspired and motivated you to create this product?
Two of us were born and raised in Northern Germany where Mexikaner was available at local pubs. At first, we mixed our own Mexikaner and brought it to private parties where people adored it. As the demand increased, we started distributing home-made Mexikaner in more attractive bottles. At some point, we designed a label for our Mexikaner, and things started getting more professional.
Soon we participated in a start-up contest and right away won some money that we used to found our company, Papa Fuego GmbH. Now our mission is not only to bring the Mexikaner to private households but to make it famous in all the parts of Germany.
What is unique about your business idea and operating model?
We are four highly motivated students, each of us believes that Mexikaner belongs in every supermarket. We don’t aim to create yet another small overpriced start-up-product that will always stay a non-seller. Our goal is to become a widely known, moderately priced alternative to sweet and mostly artificial shot drinks.
We have a lean organisational structure, and almost all of our processes are designed for scalability. We have built a stable network and started collaborating closely with various companies. We are also delighted to call world-famous Jägermeister a supporter of our company.
What were the most significant difficulties you had to overcome while building your start-up?
We had to learn that even if we can do many things ourselves, it is not necessarily useful or manageable to do so. Talking about cashflow management: You always pay in advance (purchasing the goods, working hours etc.), but get the money only after delivery. If that difference is too big, you can still get good sales figures, while the account balance drops anyway. The more the company grows, the more significant this difference will be.
Where do you see yourselves and your company in 5 years?
In 5 years Papa Fuego will hopefully become the ultimate kickoff drink for every cool party. The fiery shot everyone talks about, the test of courage for anyone who dares to try our spicy edition. We want to offer our Mexikaner nationwide and have our product placed in about 30% of all food retailers. We plan to automate the processes and establish our Papa Fuego brand in Germany so we could take first cautious expansion steps abroad. We would be thrilled to accomplish these goals in cooperation with the large companies, such as Jägermeister or METRO.
What are your expectations from the NX-FOOD Start-up Shelf programme?
We hope to learn how to improve our brand communication. We also appreciate any support when it comes to logistics, as we want to keep our pricing as low as 7,99 Euro per bottle. Thanks to the NX-FOOD Start-up Shelf programme, we are able to place our product in the test stores across Germany. In the best-case scenario, we will have a high sales performance and will work on a nationwide expansion concept together with real,- and METRO Cash&Carry. Listing in the big store will increase our reach and let us focus on marketing activities and production automation.
What are your main milestones and achievements?
– Q4 2016 Winning a prize at a local start-up contest, using the money to initiate the establishment of our company.
– Q1 2017 Establishment of Papa Fuego UG and start of production in a gastronomy kitchen rented on a daily basis.
– Q2 2017 Article about us in the local newspaper brings us in the spotlight overnight and generates over 500 comments on Facebook. Two big Edeka stores called in the next day and wanted our product in their stores. Within a few weeks, our Mexikaner was sold in 11 Edeka stores.
– Q3 2017 Negotiations with Academic Ventures. Approval of investment.
– Q4 2017 Moving into our first and very own office, setting up a small warehouse and a kitchen for production.
– Q1 2018 Changing from UG to GmbH. The relaunch of our new label design. Start of a broader expansion. More and more food retailers are showing great interest in our product.
Papa Fuego Team
Jasper Brünnette — CEO and CMO
Max Brandt— CEO and CFO
Oliver Kern — Head of Sales
Philipp Grimmel — Head of Production