What product or service does your business offer?
Chixa is a ready-to-drink (RTD) tepache cocktail made with all-natural ingredients, Mexican rum, and prebiotics. Our tepache cocktails sit at the rapidly growing intersection of functional beverages, RTDs, hand-crafted rums, and culturally inspired drinks.
How did you come up with the idea for this business?
I realized all these hard seltzers and RTD cocktails were promoting low calories, but most were using artificial or low-quality ingredients. I remembered my family’s recipe for Colombian chicha, a fermented drink also known as tepache,and how my mom told me that this was the way indigenous tribes in South America drank it.
I started making different variations of chicha in my kitchen, and I was able to create a low-ABV drink made with all-natural ingredients and prebiotics. I am currently working with my co-founder, Austin, and a formulation lab run by NYU alumni to create a canned cocktail version of my family’s recipe that is set to launch this summer.
Why did you decide to participate in the HI Hub Incubator program?
Austin and I saw this as a great opportunity to connect with other NYU entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry. We also wanted to meet mentors to learn from them and take Chixa to the next level before its official launch.
Our team came into the HI Hub Incubator program with many questions regarding branding, margins, fundraising, and retail launch strategies. We are happy to report that our mentors have been incredibly helpful after only one week of meetings.
What do you enjoy most about creating your own startup business?
What I enjoy most is learning different things every day. When you are working on your startup, you get to wear all the hats (marketing, sales, production, sourcing). It definitely has taken me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to develop other skills.
What advice would you give to someone contemplating founding a startup?
Make sure you do extensive customer discovery. This step is crucial for understanding your product/service and the market you will be serving. Additionally, I would advise finding a co-founder and team that can complement your weaknesses. Having a good team behind your idea is key: Founding a startup is a long journey, and you need people to support you and help you execute your vision.
What is something you learned through this process that you wish you’d known before you created your startup?
I wish I had known how lengthy the formulation process was going to be. Even if you have a step-by-step recipe like we do, this process can take longer than expected. At the same time, this is the most important step for bringing your beverage idea to market. We are making the most of our time with the formulation lab by carefully choosing ingredients, establishing our supply chain, and making new connections in the industry.
What does the future of your startup look like in an ideal world?
We are currently in one restaurant, Ribalta, and hope to continue partnering and collaborating with other NYC restaurants and bars. We will be officially launching our canned cocktails this summer and are brainstorming other exciting flavors and products for next year.
Long term, we plan to bring our premium tepache cocktails to all 50 states. We see drinking habits shifting to lower ABVs, low/no added sugar, and more natural ingredients. Chixa has the exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of mindful drinking and functional beverages.
Have you worked with any alumni or mentors on this project? If so, who and what was that experience like?
I have been working with a team I met through the NYU Entrepreneurship Slack group. Austin has been my co-founder and he has helped me with the business strategy and operations. Kami Kenna has been a great resource and mentor to us when it comes to learning about the spirits business. I don’t think this would be in the stage that it is right now without their help.