Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rafael Rodas > www.tucocina.net

Rafael Rodas, Co-Founder & President, TUCOCINA.

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
Passion and determination are enough most days to get you excited about your business idea or about growing your company, self discipline and perseverance should pick-up the slack on the days when the going gets tough. I believe most of us have what it takes to succeed in business, but the ability to gauge and manage risk is what differentiates those who choose to pursue a career in entrepreneurship

What did inspire you to start your business?
Having an impact in the direction of our business and the chance to build and grow a company from scratch, have always seemed worthy challenges. Addressing a void in the cookware and household product markets with superior-quality, specialty kitchenware and products for the fast-growing Hispanic segment is a very exciting business prospect. The intersection of these challenges and business prospect, and the opportunity to stay connected to Latin cuisine, such a central part of Latino culture, made it so compelling, it inspired me to pursue it.

How did you finance it?
Commercial debt and a combination of personal funds and bootstrapping, giving the business breathing room to grow, a great deal of which has been possible thanks to my wife's unyielding support

Being Hispanic… Does it have any influence on your business?
I am convinced that what makes Latin cuisine an essential part of our culture are the traditions that bring family and friends together. We are committed to complementing the cooking experience of Latin food lovers with high-quality products for everyday use. Being Hispanic provides a personal dimension to the way we approach our business, from product development to customer service, we are always inspired by the traditions we look to preserve

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
Always try to keep an eye on the "big picture". Having the ability and the discipline to look at current events in the context of the long-term business objectives is an effective way to understand what is happening right now. Evaluating current challenges from this perspective helps me determine the best way to move forward to regain momentum

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Balancing growth is our greatest challenge. In a fast-growing market there are always multiple opportunities for growth, whether they be launching innovative products or partnering with new customers, the need to constantly evaluate opportunities and allocate scarce capital resources is an exciting challenge to face.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
With so much of the success of a business based on the timing of events, it is impossible to know whether the timeline and the path to success would be the same. However, if I could do one thing differently, I would have started earlier

What was your childhood ambition?
Since early on, my ambition was to "build something", so I wanted to be an architect. Later I became interested in business and the goal became to build a business. Today I work to build a company that has a positive impact on the people it touches.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Prudencio Unanue and later his son Joseph Unanue for having the vision to serve a market that many thought was not yet there

Richard Branson for the market-making boldness of his business endeavors and for his branding and marketing genius

Reinaldo Rodas, my father, for his unrelenting optimism and work ethic, and for his genuine interest in relating to people, understanding and addressing their needs

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Dinner. With the benefit of a full day's work behind, a good meal seems an ideal informal setting to start or strengthen a business relationship

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle that demands sacrifices often borne not only by an entrepreneur but by those around him/her as well. Bootstrapping, for instance, requires frugal stewardship of both business and personal financial resources, and at times it may mean modifying short term financial goals that would be easily attainable on more conventional career paths, like deferring contributions to a retirement plan, for example. Nevertheless, these sacrifices usually come with the expectation of worthy long-term rewards

What is your favorite quote?
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore"
- André Gide

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
No. Like most people, I never set out to be unconventional, but simply strive to attain goals that I find challenging and fulfilling. Sometimes these pursuits stand out because they are different than what most people choose to do. I believe that nowadays our collective mindset is shifting toward entrepreneurship; twenty or thirty-year careers at a single company seem a lot less likely today than they did twenty years ago. Pursuing a twenty-plus year career at a corporate giant undoubtedly takes a great deal of determination and perseverance; and in my opinion, that kind of commitment is no less extraordinary and unconventional than choosing a career in entrepreneurship.

Biggest mistake made?
A few years ago, during the launch of one of our brands, I decided to outsource an important function to focus on other priorities of the business. Upon evaluating the outsourcing partner's performance, we found that although it had been satisfactory and according to our requirements, there was tremendous opportunity within that function to affect the strategic direction of the company and to capture significant cost savings.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes. I am convinced that no matter the setting, in order to succeed in business one has to offer something new, different. However, I always keep in mind that innovation can take many forms. Innovators aren't only those who can come up with the quintessential "better mouse-trap"; they are also those who find a way to deliver it faster, or those who find a different application for it.

About the Company.
The ROCI Group, LLC owns and manages the TUCOCINA® brand of specialty kitchenware.

The premier source of specialty Hispanic kitchenware, TUCOCINA® products are created to satisfy the needs of Latino families and Latin-food lovers. Whether you are preparing the latest Nuevo Latino dish or your grandmother's signature soup we provide superior-quality cookware and kitchen tools designed to perform in today's kitchen.

TUCOCINA® offers a complete line of cookware and kitchen tools sold at over 600 retail establishments in the U.S.

TUCOCINA® Tradición Latina!
www.tucocina.net

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