2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: BONAMI FOOD PRODUCTS
Four years ago, Felix Guelfucci MSEL ’20 volunteered with Gawad Kalinga, a NGO in the Philippines, and realized something about himself: He is passionate about using his skills to address social problems. Seeing firsthand the needs of local communities, he became interested in social entrepreneurship.
Fast forward to BONAMI, gourmet seafood products with a social mission! BONAMI products are 100% sourced and made in the Philippines. By sourcing ingredients from local fishermen and farmers and working with local talent to make the products, BONAMI helps to support these local economies and engages community members in entrepreneurship. It also has set up a partnership with a micro-credit foundation to provide these communities with access to capital. Finally, BONAMI partners with NGOs and governmental agencies to develop various social programs within the communities.
In the MSEL program at Babson, Felix met Mikel Badiola, Raed Attia, and Franziska Ibscher, all MSEL‘20. These three friends gave Felix feedback and supported him as he worked on BONAMI. And this summer, they joined him as part of the team. They each bring different strengths and are focusing on different aspects of the business. Mikel works on finance, FDA research, and exporting. Raed covers US go to market strategy and has also been researching FDA research and exporting. Franziska focuses on digital and web marketing. Together, with Felix and his Filipino co-founder Jose Antonio A. Morente, they are BONAMI.
In Summer Catalyst, the team has taken advantage of all opportunities. They developed a great relationship with their business model canvas coach Tris Oakley, and she has been a meaningful source of advice throughout the summer. They also enjoyed opportunities to connect with and hear from entrepreneurs in office hours and meet ups.
One Summer Catalyst experience in particular stands out to the team: the Hot Seat. While Felix had previously pitched at Babson events like Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, Rocket Pitch and the B.E.T.A. Challenge finale, Hot Seat was a unique experience, giving BONAMI two intensive hours of constructive feedback from the Summer Catalyst cohort. Out of the Hot Seat, they created two brand new presentations, one targeting partners, retailers, and distributors and the other targeting consumers. The team also learned a lot from hearing the other ventures pitch and seeing common feedback themes. In fact, they liked Hot Seat so much they would do it again!
This summer, BONAMI accomplished numerous goals. The team recruited a recipe developer and food photographer to strengthen the BONAMI brand with a recipe blog. They launched a new website. The team added a new product to its line-up. They have received great feedback from chefs like Jamie Bissonnette and the food community in the US. Last, they developed their US go to market strategy, which is complex given the intricacy of FDA requirements, both in the US and the Philippines, and exporting regulations in this pandemic context.
And finally, the team has adapted to the new reality of COVID-19. They rolled out an initiative where local community members can make and distribute masks. To date, the communities have made 900 masks and distributed 450.
As BONAMI looks ahead, the team hopes to get production and distribution back on track and find new ways to bring the products to their customers. They are exploring subscription boxes, new online channels, and much more – stay tuned for news from BONAMI!