After proving their start-up skills at Hawk Tank, a Fort Lewis College contest, The Maté Exchange team refined its ideas through the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs.
Alongside experienced founders, The Maté Exchange team pitched investors on Thursday. The showcase was the culmination of their time in SCAPE, an intense 6-month program that provides $30,000 in seed funding and mentorship in the areas of product development, marketing and finance.
Giancarlo Vigil, a recent FLC alumnus, founded the company that imports, flavors, and sells loose leaf yerba maté, a South American tea.
He loves the tea because it provides sustained energy with out the crash most experience after drinking coffee or energy drinks, he said.
“It doesn’t make you feel jittery,” he said.
Since winning the FLC contest, the Durango Natural Foods Co-Op has started carrying the company’s yerba maté and the company’s goal is to be in five unique grocery stores by the end of the first year, said Ray Benton, marketing director.
It also is available for sale online and at Fitness Solutions 24/7.
The Maté Exchange employs two sales representatives and in five years the company expects to employ 20, Benton said.
To expand its appeal, the company is going to offer cocoa and apple cinnamon flavored yerba maté.
It sees student athletes, concert goers and health enthusiasts as the most likely people to embrace yerba maté and they plan to do many demonstrations to help educate potential customer about the tea and how to brew it.
This weekend a Maté Exchange table will be set up at the i AM MUSIC FEST.