Chía Mía was founded by three proud, young enterprising women – Fernanda Guerrero (international business), Ana Sofía Ruiz (food engineer) and Elena Isoard (graphic designer) – who detected a niche on the healthy beverage market.
“Almost five years ago we noticed that Mexico did not have a good offer in healthy beverages,” they explained during our interview. “We were aware of the existence of serious obesity and diabetes problems in our country and of the significant correlation between the obesity levels and the quantity of sugary beverages and refreshments consumed by our population. We also knew about the economic and social cost this was generating.
“With all this information in mind we decided to found Chía Mía and launched to the market Mexico’s first ready to drink chia beverage: 100 % natural, without sugar, preserving or flavoring, with the addition of chia.”
Inspired by “the right reasons"
“We knew that Mexicans were used to drink the typical cold water, which is healthy, but is not available in a suitable form. Therefore, inspired by Mexican herbs, herbals and spices, we developed our own mixtures,” they said. And it seems that their clients value the result, and also the philosophy behind their products, which they call “for the right reasons”.
“In 2015 we launched our principal product: Chía Mía infusions. This 100% natural drink represents 97% of our sales. The infusions are made with herbs and spices, juice of natural fruits and chía, without using preservatives and gluten, and without extra sugar, sold in 350 ml glass bottles,” the partners explained to us. Nowadays they offer them on the market in four tastes: Lemon, mint, ginger; Apple, mint, basil; Guava, chamomile, cinnamon; and Jamaica, blackberry, rosemary.
“In addition, in November 2016 we launched a refreshing drink created from fruits, vegetables and chía, without extra sugar, ideal to consume after doing exercise. Chía Mía Fit is offered in two tastes: Lemon - cucumber and Red Fruits,” they said. That same year they also introduced Chía Mía Pudding. These two products represent only 3% of their actual sales.
As for new launches, they have just started to market a line of healthy desserts (made from tapioca) but under another brand called SEMIA; although the product has had a good acceptance in the market, it is too early to make a judgement.
“All our products can be purchased through our web page and are also currently available in many supermarket chains and gourmet outlets [in Mexico]. As for our clients, it is interesting to know that women (especially between 18 and 60 years old) represent 75% of the market share,” they said.
Made out of natural ingredients, their products contain no preservatives, colors or additives of any kind; they have no added sugar, are minimally refined, and are gluten free, suitable for vegans and diabetic people.
“Our customers value their time, their health and the ecology. They are also sociable, they like to be active and love practicing sports. They appreciate the tasty but healthy products; they read the labels and are interested in knowing where the products they consume come from. Usually many of our clients are active on social media, sharing information and tips with their groups,” said the three entrepreneurs.
The company is not alone in the marketplace, and competitors offering “cold water with chia” are available, but the women said their added value is primarily due to the fact that our drinks can be stored in dry, which allows us a wider distribution. “On the other hand, the fact that our infusions do not have additives, preservatives or colorants of any kind makes us stronger than our competitors,” they added.
“A lot of young people trying to change the food landscape”
The food and beverage business north of the border in the US is being turned upside down by the entrance of young entrepreneurs, and while it is relatively easy to undertake new projects in Mexico, the problem is to make the business grow due to Mexico’s unstable economy and the challenges of obtaining financing.
“Although there are many investment funds, often their conditions are very unfair towards the entrepreneurs, hampering in some cases the access to credit,” they explained. “Nevertheless there are a lot of young people trying to change the food landscape, this being one of the sectors (after technology and renewable resources) where more entrepreneurs are dabbling.”
As Mexico struggles with very high obesity levels, particularly alarming in children, entrepreneurs are eyeing opportunities in categories like cold pressed juices, snacks with high protein, healthy desserts and healthy snacks.
So what advice can the Chia Mia founders offer to other entrepreneurs? “Trust in your idea, in your person and in your team. If you lose the faith or the motivation you lose everything. There will be obstacles, but you must always be convinced about what you are undertaking in order to avoid being discouraged,” they said. Furthermore, they recommend looking for advice from organizations like Endeavor and Bluebox.