We didn’t want to start this business. We felt compelled to!
The timing couldn’t have been worse. It was 2020 (and I don't know if you recall or not, but there was a little thing called a pandemic going on) and starting a business under perfect circumstances is not for the faint of heart. The startup costs and knowledge necessary to create a successful brand are massive. Especially in an industry, like food manufacturing, that we have never been a part of. As longtime veterans of the hospitality and food service industry, we had seen countless beverage startups fail. The combination of the difficulty associated with launching a brand and the current market conditions due to Covid made us very wary of starting a new business venture.
But let's back up a minute (or a few years). It is worth noting that the recipe for Momo's Michelada Mix was developed around 2017 or 2018 when KC (one of our founding partners) visited Nicaragua and was inspired by the micheladas he enjoyed there. They were different from the micheladas KC was used to and to his surprise he didn’t have an acid reflux flare up after consuming about a dozen in a day. The pride with which the Nicaraguan bartenders served up their miches was infectious, and by the time KC flew home he was hooked.
Historically, in America the micheladas are poor imitations made by adding some bloody mary mix to a beer. They are thick, hearty, and heavy. Oftentimes they are literally just a bloody mary mix, usually Zing Zang, a cup full of ice, margarita salt on the rim and then you can fit a little of your beer in the glass. Oh and a lime on the side as a garnish. Prior to his experience in Nicaragua, KC served up many micheladas that fit this description. The worst part of making your micheladas this way is that the first couple sips might be good, but by time you get the full beer into the glass, your ice has melted, and the mix to beer ratio is changes throughout the process. This type of makeshift cocktail is a poor imitation of the real deal, and frankly a colossal waste of money.
Validation Point 1
So this brings us back to why we felt compelled to create Momo's. After tasting what is likely the best michelada in the world, KC came home and started crafting his michelada mix using the notes he was taking mentally with every sip while in Nicararagua. Concidentally, a local Austin bar was holding a michelada contest not long after KC was able to perfect his version of a michelada. And thus, Momo's was entered into the competition as a test to see if anyone else thought the final recipe was a success. Momo's won that competition against 25 other bars and restaurants and was named the Michelada Madness 2018 champion.
Validation Point 2
After the competition, KC started serving up his signature michelada recipe at a bar that he was part owner of, to see if the drink could succeed on a menu. Not only was Momo's a hit among customers, but they would regularly ask if the mix was available for sale by the bottle. Initially, the idea was to use the signature michelada mix to create regulars for the bar. You know the first rule of business, always keep them wanting more.
Validation Point 3
One day shortly before the pandemic, KC received a message from a buyer at Whole Foods who was interested in talking miches. Turns out, with the rising popularity of micheladas in the US, the grocery chain was looking to manufacture their own brand. Having heard about the unique (and crowd pleasing) taste of KC's michelada, Whole Foods was interested in buying the recipe. After thinking it over, KC decided that while the offer was great he wanted to leave the door open to creating his own brand of signature michelada mix and so ultimately turned down Whole Foods. The interest, though, validated the belief that a high quality michelada made with quality ingredients may have a place in the American marketplace.
here we go
Like many others, KC lost his job as a result of the unknown caused by the pandemic. In an industry that serves the hospitality industry it was completely understood. Nobody knew the future of this industry at the time. At a loss for a clear plan, and a future that was looking more and more uncertain, KC started thinking about the prospect of pouring his passion for making the best michelada into a bottle that customers could put in their fridge.
As a way to talk himself out of it (fear can be a powerful initimidator), KC went on a mission to order and taste every michelada mix in a bottle that was currently available on Amazon, online, or through traditional retail. What he found was pretty disheartening. Each and every bottle he cracked open was a slight variation on a bloody mary mix with a michelada label slapped on the front. None of the available options even hinted at the combination of savory spices and tart elements KC enjoyed in those Nicaraguan bars.
The quest began to find a michelada mix already on the market that was good enough so that this idea that the world needed KC's michelada mix could be forgotten. What we ultimately discovered was that not only were the available offerings not that good, but there wasn’t a single one that was citrus based and tomato free. This was the final straw that broke Momo's wide open. One day he walked up to Marisa “Momo” and said something along the lines of “Ummmm we’re going to start a business. You’re going to be my partner and it’s going to be named Momo’s.”
And the rest is history. (Well, not quite yet but we're working on it).