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On starting over: Liliana Valle of Mistti

,    /   Feb 23rd, 2011Food, Interviews, National

When a good idea is executed poorly, the smart social entrepreneur will often scrap the project and go back to the drawing board. In this series entrepreneurs talk about discarding what isn’t working and starting over in order to maximize social impact.

With the slogan, “Eat Culture”, Mistti is striving to break down cultural boundaries through baked goods. The owners hope to utilize the power of food to engage the community in a dialogue of cultural exchange and generate a new conversation about Latinos in the U.S.

Dowser:  What’s something concrete and tangible you’ve learned in the last three months?
Liliana Valle: Don’t be so focused on your original strategy that you miss out on other opportunities. When we first started Mistti, we thought we would take our fresh baked product and develop it into a shelf stable product in order to be distributed through food retailers. This was the way ‘everyone’ had done it in the retail business. ‘It would only work if it is shelf stable,’ is what people would say. It wasn’t until we rain into shelf stability challenges that we realized there was an even greater opportunity in the fresh baked area of specialty food retailers. By shifting our strategy to this sector of the food retail business, we’ve found a niche that works for us and is allowing us to continue with Mistti and our mission

What is a mistake or mishap you’ve learned from?
Don’t be afraid to share your business idea. When we first came up with the idea of Mistti, we were too concerned that someone would steal it. We didn’t share it with most people. It was after a couple of months that we started opening up about our idea, and people got on board quickly. We built our board of advisers within one month, five individuals that bring incredible experience and value. We also met professionals that offered to work for us pro-bono because they saw the potential of the business and believed in our entrepreneurial ability. The momentum gained would have never happened if we had not started to open up. If people don’t know what you are doing, they don’t know how to help you. You would be amazed at what speaking up can get you.

Interview has been edited and condensed.

Photo courtesy of Liliana Valle

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