In The Silicon Tropic

By South Florida entrepreneurs, for South Florida entrepreneurs. All things tech in the sunny Silicon Tropic.

Meet: Ricardo & Ricardo of The THX Co.

 

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This startup is particularly unique and was thought of by two brothers with a very refreshing financial model. It’s a for-profit startup that donates its profits, or as they say, “it’s a Not Just For Profit.” See what they did there? Read the interview below to learn about their trouble, their success, and the creative way they are changing the world through THX. Tagged by Jim Rohrbach, because they’re truly doing something different and have the work ethic required to succeed.

Who are you? Ricardo Jose:Ricardo Juan and Ricardo Jose. We are brothers. Our family is originally from Guatemala; we are true first generation Americans. We grew up mostly in Boston. We were living in Guatemala for some time and it was pretty dangerous, so we came back to states. My brother Ricardo Juan was in investment banking and he was actually getting his MBA at UM.”

Tell us about THX: Ricardo Jose: “We raise money for non-profit initiatives through beautifully designed and responsibly sourced products that can be described as daily essentials. We are not a non-profit. We are a for profit. What we wanted to do really was create a new concept that would donate 100% of its profits. Social enterprise works.”

Give me an example: Ricardo Jose: Direct trade coffee from Guatemala. There’s a beautiful supply chain story to the coffee. There is also a line of fragrances that we produce. It works like this: We sell the vendor coffee at a wholesale price. If the vendor sells our coffee for $12.00, they will donate $2.00.”

What are your roles?

  1. Ricardo Juan: “I’m Managing Director and co-founder. I take care of most of the finances, what sales will be, budgeting, and managing suppliers.”
  2. Ricardo Jose: “I am the Executive Director and co-founder. I am in sales and community engagement, distribution and PR.”

No CEO? Ricardo Jose: “No CEO, we just have directorships right now. That’s the structure that we took on. The team is now 10.”

Where can we buy your stuff? Ricardo Jose: “Locally, people can buy them in South Florida, and we also sell them online. We have a pretty great e-commerce platform and really strong UI/UX when you use the site. It’s an easy process. 3 steps; you pick a product, you get to choose the cause you support, and you get to choose how much you want to donate at checkout.”

What’s the next step for THX? Ricardo Jose: “We will be creating an entire brand of products. The power of the concept connecting with a millennial consumer. We’re able to collaborate with other companies, we can distribute, work with retailers, and we want to form part of their corporate social responsibility. They also make money by carrying our products in their stores.”

What’s your biggest challenge? Ricardo Juan: “We knew that coming into the market with coffee and fragrances, two super saturated markets, we have to have a 100% transparent model. We’re incorporating a giving mechanism to our product and serves. It’s not just a social marketing. We are here to help people while never sacrificing our quality. We lead with a purpose, not our product. We seal the deal with the product.”

When did it launch? “May 2015.”

Tag an entrepreneur to be interviewed: “Michael Feinstein of The Buro Miami. Because he has offered the modern shared office space at a very accessible price to startup entrepreneurs, without sacrificing the perks of a 2015 shared office space.”

How did you come up with the idea for THX, and what were the first steps you took to start it? Ricardo Jose: “Social consciousness in business has always been a fundamental aspect of what we do. The world needs help. 600 million people with no access to clean water. 3 in 5 women die of cervical cancer. People need help to start again. We didn’t just want to start a non-profit. When we were introduced to the idea, we were onboard.”

What is a current project or idea your startup is working on? Ricardo Jose: “We’re expanding our products, and definitely developing coffee a lot more. Also bringing other daily essentials and launching an apparel line. We’re developing the perfect merge for our marketplace. A new type of crowdfunding/crowdsourcing, allowing individuals that are raising money for a cause where they themselves are the cause. For example, someone could say ‘I’m going to Uganda for the next 6 months, buy my products to support my trip,’ and people donate towards her cause. Kind of like the ‘I’m running a marathon model.’”

Where is your office located? Ricardo Jose: “We are now in Hollywood. We moved from Wynwood so that we could build out our warehouse and a mini distribution center.”

Have you raised money? Ricardo Juan: “ There were a few investors that came together and believed in this model. We didn’t try and raise money here in Miami. Since the concept is pretty different, we will be raising money. We wanted to wait to have proof of concept and traction.”

What problem does your product solve, and how are you solving it? Ricardo Juan: “The lack of funding for causes, so non-profits are always trying to fundraise. They keep going back to the same donors and exhausting it. We think this is an innovative way to connect a consumer to a cause with no change to their purchasing behaviors.”

Who are your advisors? Ricardo Juan: “One is Gonzalo Valdes-Fauli, the Chairman of BroadSpan Capital, an investment bank in Brickell. The other is John Chung, an ex-VP of Citigroup.”

What productivity apps does your team use? Ricardo Juan: “Evernote.”

Did you ever experience any hardships where you thought your THX would fail? Ricardo Jose: “HELL YES.”

  1. What was the worst event that threatened your future Ricardo Jose: “Our launch products are sensory products, so people want to see and taste them. Getting people to get over brand loyalty to cause loyalty. It’s an education campaign, and it has been a struggle. It’s easier with the website and simple messaging, but still getting people to understand the concept of donating 100% of profits isn’t easy.”
  2. What did you do to overcome this? Ricardo Jose:
    “We did buy one give one. We’ve been in different box subscription companies. We engaged heavily in social media. Working not only to create beautiful content but to connect with influencers.”

What types of subscription boxes did you use? Cause Box, out of LA and they are a subsidiary of Sevenly. Following definitely increased doing cross-promotional with other items in the box.”

Ok wait, so you’re not a non-profit, but you’re kind of like a non-profit. What should our readers that are trying to start a non-profit know? Ricardo Jose: “You really need to believe in what you’re doing. You have to be fully engaged, mentally and physically, to get over those challenges you will face in the first year. And, be very detail oriented.”

How can the ecosystem of Miami support you? Ricardo Jose: “Buy our products, get behind our cause. Taking the time to learn more about our concept and if it is something they feel is important, get behind it. Follow us on social media, keep in touch and reach out.”

What has been your biggest challenge for your startup in Miami? Ricardo Jose: “Miami has a coffee culture. We have to have a great coffee to sell. Creating that awareness in a heavily Hispanic coffee drinking market where people drink cortaditos is tough. Miami is not the most socially minded market, has other focuses like partying, ultra, tourism, money. Miami isn’t opposed to us, but we’re a new concept to this market. Really to any market, but especially to Miami.”

Who does your UI/UX? Ricardo Jose: “We do. We built our UI/UX inhouse. He led that initiative, his name is Brett Malden, and he has been with us for about a year and a half.”

What’s the big picture with “Not just for profit?” Ricardo Jose: “We want to turn our model into a B-Corp certification, launch other companies under this model, and get more companies to donate.”

Finish this sentence: I wish a Miami startup would create an app that ______________. Ricardo Jose & Ricardo Juan: “That would consolidate all of the different events going on. Like different parties, ‘this DJ is playing here, this event is going on there.’”

Best place for a business lunch: Ricardo Jose: Butcher Shop if it’s casual, but River Oyster Bar if it’s more of a serious lunch.”

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This entry was posted on January 7, 2016 by in People, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .
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