Juan Diego Cordon, founder of Ripened Ventures and KitchenTown Maker, is a classic example of the unpredictable journey of a food entrepreneur.
Our founders are often faced with difficult challenges and decisions that can alter the course of their business or significantly impact their product.
Juan Diego was able to navigate the challenges of bringing state of the art technology into the CPG space, and because he was willing to be flexible with the identity of his company, he is now launching his product into stores across Southern California in partnership with NOVA Easy Kombucha.
Originally a bio-technologist, Juan Diego developed a technology to ferment orange juice using a proprietary yeast isolated from the orange trees in Sevilla, Spain. Through the fermentation process, the yeast consumes half the sugars in the orange juice, creates a higher amount of flavonoids and carotenoids than the original juice, increasing its antioxidant power by 60%. This beverage, was first branded as an Orange Session.
RIPENED @ KITCHENTOWN
Juan Diego knew his idea was unlike anything on the market, but he needed to validate the technology and prove that it could scale – so he came to KitchenTown. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without KitchenTown”, says Juan Diego. “The KitchenTown team helped me the entire way. They gave me the space to test and produce my product, helped me navigate all the hassles of being a CPG brand, and helped me make connections in the industry”. Juan Diego worked at KitchenTown for over a year, producing his product at scale, learning about the industry and building his brand.
PARTNERSHIP TO GROWTH
Through his connections in the industry, Juan Diego met Tiago Carneiro, founder and CEO of Novo Brazil Brewing, an award-winning brewery in San Diego. Tiago was impressed with Ripened’s technology, and proposed bringing it on as a product under his new brand, NOVA Easy Kombucha. Juan Diego said yes to a market test, and within less than a month, his orange juice was selling out kegs at their brewery, and being canned and ready to be put on shelves in stores across Southern California.
At the beginning, Juan Diego had envisioned Ripened Ventures as an ingredient technology company. He shied away from being a CPG brand because of the “hassle” and complicated distribution model, but when he realized he needed market validation to secure any initial funding, he was thrown back into being a CPG brand. Because he was willing to be flexible with the identity of his brand (CPG vs. ingredient technology) Juan Diego was able to take his product to market a lot faster and accelerate the growth of his company. Through his partnership with NOVA Kombucha, Juan Diego can produce his product at scale, sell directly into their established accounts, and develop new products, while keeping his brand, Ripened Ventures, as the owner of the ingredient technology.
Juan Diego’s story teaches us that the path to success might look a lot different than what a founder had in mind at the beginning of the journey. Persistence, flexibility, and willingness to partner up, can often enable founders to achieve growth and success faster than doing it alone. In less than two years, Ripened Ventures evolved from a CPG brand almost ready to call a quits, to an ingredient technology company ready to license – with the same delicious product, a fermented orange juice with 50% less sugar, and twice the antioxidants.
KitchenTown understands that the journey of being a founder is not cut and dry. We work hard to support, connect, listen, and problem solve with our makers. We’re proud and excited to be part of Juan Diego’s success and look forward to many more to come!
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