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With her startup Muni Tienda, founder Maria Echeverri Gomez is looking to turn grocery shopping into a digital experience across Latin America. Buyers place orders for a network of family and friends, who can discover new products they may not find in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. To Gomez that opportunity benefits both her customers — and brands.
“The reason why big brands really like to partner with us is that we take kind of the best things from both worlds – from traditional commerce and from traditional retail,” Gomez says. “We’re able to reach a user that is traditionally completely unknown for brands.”
While Muni may start with groceries, Gomez already has her sights on where it can go next. She believes the digital platform can eventually be the platform consumers flock to for financial services, health care, and more.
“E-commerce is our first fundamental building block, but in the next few years, we’re super excited about all the products and services that we can we could offer,” she says.
Learn more about Gomez and her strategy to build Muni across Latin America:
Maria Echeverri Gomez, founder Muni Tienda
Muni is a community group service platform in Latin America. We’re currently operating in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. And the basic need that we’re solving is access to technology. So until today, access to e-commerce in Latin America is restricted to the top five or 3% of the population in terms of income. It’s expensive, it has a medium high minimum order values. Customer service is not great. People are not used to interacting with technology, other than WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook.
With Muni they have this friendly face through a community leader where they can have all their questions solved. A customer great customer service, great prices and access to other products and services, where we can start interacting with technology in a much simpler, cheaper and friendly way.
The heart of the model is that community leader. That solves two very, very fundamental problems. One is customer acquisition. And the other one is the cost of logistics. So the community group leaders does two things. One, they take advantage of their social networks to offer products and services to people that they know from their neighbors or friends or family. And the other one is they receive and group orders. So that allows us to one, charge no delivery fee. And two, we do not require minimum order value since the community leader groups order. So instead of us delivering a ton of different small orders, we just deliver one order to the community leader that then handles the last mile and delivers to each individual customer.
The reason why big brands really, really like to partner with ourselves is that we take kind of the the best things from both worlds from traditional e-commerce and from traditional retail. And with this combination, we’re able to reach users that is traditionally completely unknown for brands. So today, for example, brands have the information and and the data until supermarkets or even smaller pop shops, but they have absolutely no visibility of what happens with the product after that. With Muni they can change that with the most cost-efficient option than traditional retail. So even though was a renovation, it requires a lot of accommodation, particularly because the infrastructure here, even for suppliers, is still it still has a lot of room for improvement, so it requires a lot of adaptations.
The value prop in terms of getting to new user understanding a new user that has today is completely unknown to brands, is very, very strong. I have experience in consulting.
I did two years at McKinsey. And in 2016 I joined Rappi. And Rappi is the reason I’m an entrepreneur today. And now I understand the power of role modeling. I think every smart person know what needs to be done. But the really hard thing is to know in which order you have to do it. People, when you have limited resources, either money or time, knowing and deciding in which order you’re going to do stuff can be the difference between having a successful business or not surviving. The second one I would say is definitely iteration. So no matter how long we spend planning stuff, and talking to our users, and understanding, once we are in the market, we’re going to learn much more.
So just the fastest that we can be in the market and start learning and iterating from them, it’s going to be better for everyone. And it’s going to be painful because things are not going to be perfect in the beginning. So particularly from a consultant mindset that was pretty pretty interesting to learn in Rappi, that things don’t have to be perfect and they will never be so just go to the market learn and start iterating.
The future is super exciting for Muni. I mentioned e-commerce in Latin America is still a luxury that very few people can afford. And if we see other countries where e-commerce, other emerging markets with e-commerce and technology in general is more, than you see that e-commerce is just the first step in the adoption of a whole new world of services and products. For example, you see Alibaba in China. They started with e-commerce but today they are a comprehensive platforms that offers financial services and health tech, insurance and much more. So e-commerce is our first fundamental building block. But in the next few years, we’re super excited about all the products and services that we could we could offer.