Daniel Quinones worked for 10 years in the consumer goods and packaging industry for companies like Nabisco and Coca Cola. And while working with them during the pandemic, he realized he has always had a love for emerging brands. The small independent companies that had fabulous products, but they didn’t have the help they needed at the store level.
“I started Front Page Retail to be an advocate for emerging food and beverage brands that otherwise would have a hard time getting their voice out on the benefits of their products. We are the best advocates in Florida for emerging brands because we go to stores and we not only promote the product in the stores and to the stores’ leadership, but also with consumers when we’re talking to the customers.”
Front Page Retail is in Miami but does business throughout much of Florida including South Florida, Orlando and Tampa.
Daniel and his team go to the stores, making sure his clients’ products look good on the shelf, that the packaging doesn’t confuse the consumer and that there are no expired products. “And I will talk about the products with the managers if there’s a promotional period coming up so the store leadership can support us with extra locations for displays.”
Front Page Retail’s clients include Mother Kombucha (kombucha beverages) and Sunny Culture (probiotic beverages) made in St. Petersburg, Orchard Pond (honey) from Tallahassee, and Craize Snacks in Miami. “It’s a cracker chip and it’s pretty delicious,” Quinones says,
“After working with big CPG companies, I noticed that small guy, or emerging brands, just didn’t have an ally with consumers… and we all know that the founders have way too many hats to wear. So, I just started this to promote good quality brands”.
He started the company in August 2020 – “it’s pretty crazy when I think about it.” An entrepreneur friend with technical chops built his website in three hours. “My friend just said, there you go, make it happen,” Quinones says. “To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into.”
In those early days, his goals were to get connected with emerging brands – he did this mainly by reaching out to founders through LinkedIn and to people he knew in the industry – and to seek help and guidance. That’s where Florida SBDC at FIU came in. SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s College of Business provides business consulting at no cost in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. During the pandemic, the center nearly doubled its number of consultants and created more webinars to meet the demand for small business assistance.
Working with Florida SBDC at FIU consultant Mark Mungenast “allowed me to just not feel lonely in the process of being an entrepreneur. I had someone who would listen to me, and give me advice, like we can go this route on the heels of this other opportunity… I think the most important thing was I really needed to feel comfortable in how I was selling my services. We also worked on my financials.”
With 10 years as a merchandiser, he knew the market well, says Mungenast, who specializes in marketing, sales, business development and strategic planning. “What I was helping him do was step out. In other words, he knew merchandising, but it was like, how do I sell? I had several meetings with him on how to approach sales. He established a relationship with wonderful direct reports first, so by the time he made his sales pitch to the president or founder, it was like a foregone conclusion because he already had inside support.”
Mungenast continues, “When you’re a small businessperson, you have to wear so many functional hats. we always talk a lot about the books, you know, the financials, and run scenarios, what happens if and what are you going to price it at?”
Front Page Retail has also experienced about 10x growth in revenues since Mongenast has been working with him.
Quinones says he has seen brands he works with triple their sales velocity in stores, and that’s rewarding because, starting with a good product, they can transform their businesses. “The more they sell, the more employees they can hire, the more people they can bring to the table, and the more growth they see.”
Much of his client growth is through word of mouth from other F&B founders, Daniel said. “They understand that I’m out in the stores, hustling for them because that’s exactly what I do, and they refer me new brands.”
“Looking back, I think yes, it sounds crazy to start a business in 2020, but there’s not a perfect time to start a business. There’s this need for this and I’m just going to make it happen.”
ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS
Florida SBDC at FIU Consultant Mark Mungenast’s advice is as follows:
- Know your market, your customers and your competition.
- You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re a salesperson, then you’ve got to do the accounting or the financial analysis. If you’re a finance person, you’ve got to step out into the selling.
- You must learn to wear many hats, and guess what? You must do things you don’t like to do.
- It’s about managing your growth, but it’s also managing your risk. Run scenarios, what ifs, all the time.
Front Page Retail founder Daniel Quinones adds one more: Make the time for personal wellness. “You have to take care of yourself first, because it’s really easy to lose yourself in the process. It’s very stressful. It can get very frustrating. I learned a lot about how [starting and running a business] would affect my health stress wise. Realize that if it fails, you did everything you could to make you succeed. I think this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”