For Renata Stoica, brigadeiro has an emotional appeal: it recalls the days of childhood preparing the candy. “It’s a very positive memory with my friends going to my house because they knew I would have chocolate,” says the São Paulo native from the city of Itapeva. The passion was such that she trusted that the candy would be loved elsewhere in the world and created TinyB, company which sells brigadeiros and has a factory in the Silicon Valley, US United States. OR business earned US$ 2.4 million (about R$ 13 million at the current price) in the last 12 months.
Stoica, 44, moved to the United States in 2013 to live with her American husband. Previously, in Brazil, she worked as a nurse, but she was dissatisfied with her profession and thought of pursuing a career as a photographer — one of her hobbies. However, in a conversation with a friend, she realized that it could be interesting to sell brigadeiros in the city of San Francisco, USA.
“I used to make brigadeiros for friends who visited us at home and I thought it might work to start a company”, he says. When she asked her husband’s opinion about the business, he was afraid, he didn’t know if he would be successful among the Americans because he was too sweet. Stoica was not let down and tested several recipes to find the ideal flavor.
From then on, the challenge was different: to find all the raw material needed to make the brigadeiros. “I used to buy condensed milk in a Latin supermarket, but it was very expensive and in small quantities, so it was impossible to sell it”, says the entrepreneur, who found a supplier by searching on Google. The molds and granules were purchased in Brazil and taken by the entrepreneur’s friends and relatives.
The business was made official in 2014. She used to make sweets in her own kitchen and offered the product to restaurants and cafeterias. He also tried to get the brigadier at weddings, but he felt a barrier. “Here the wedding traditions are different, and people didn’t feel like trying the brigadeiro during the party. I ended up selling a few units”, he says, adding that consumers approved of the product, but the company still sold little. “I realized we wouldn’t get very far this way.”
The turning point came in 2017, when the brand was invited by a company to develop a brigadeiro workshop. “It was a house with about 30 people and we made the sweets there. Everyone loved the smell,” says Stoica, who realized that it would be more advantageous to have corporations as customers.
“It’s a very interesting practice for companies that want to integrate employees to achieve engagement,” he says. With this, TinyB started to become known in the sector and grow especially through the dissemination of the consumers themselves. In 2019, the company created a factory in the Silicon Valley region, where it would be closer to large corporations like Google and Facebook — which were already customers.
Performing in-person events, TinyB was heavily impacted at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020. The output was an online version of the brigadeiro classes: boxes with products were sent to companies and their employees to make sweets in their houses.
Another solution was to increase the product offer. Thus, TinyB also started to offer cookies — better known by the Americans. “I decided to make cookies filled with brigadeiro, which became very attractive to our e-commerce customers. They took the cookie they were already used to and the brigadeiro to try,” he says.
Virtual events were so successful that they remain in the company’s portfolio. The entrepreneur has plans to keep them even after the pandemic — as it is a way to reach more regions of the United States and even other countries. The company reached the number of 40 employees, including Stoica as CEO.
The expectation now is that the business will grow and that the Brigadier will become more and more famous. “My dream is to make the brigadeiro what the French did with croissant: to make the name known around the world,” he says.
Sign up for the Entrepreneurial Innovation and Culture Festival.
Do you want access to exclusive PEGN content? Just click here and sign!