Always produce something you’re proud of, says #IBYE 2014 Best Business Idea Winner, Philip Martin
90 second Q&A with Philip Martin of Blanco Nino in Tipperary.
“Produce something you’re proud of, be passionate about it, and be persistent in going about it”, Philip Blanco of Blanco Nino.
Name: Philip Martin
Title: Founder of Blanco Nino
Award: Winner of ‘Best Business Idea’ Category at #IBYE 2014
Philip, you’ve been really busy since winning the ‘Best Business Idea’ category for #IBYE 2014 – how is business going?
Business has been great! With the ‘Little Ass Burrito Bar’ restaurant business (in Dublin), we’re opening a third location in October, which we’re really excited about. And with Blanco Nino (in Tipperary), we expect to begin serving our first customers within the next three weeks.
What exactly is Blanco Nino and what’s the vision behind the new food brand?
Through Blanco Nino, our plan is to affect the change we want to see in the world,
by producing absolutely awesome corn tortillas and tortillas chips which just so happen to be all natural, proper authentic and naturally gluten free.
And they’re made using just three simple ingredients: non-GM corn, water and lime.
Who (and where) are Blanco Nino’s customers?
We don’t sell direct to customers, but work through distributors. So, if you’re an owner, manager or even just work the odd time at a restaurant, bar or hotel, and want to see real authentic, outrageously good Mexican food on the menu, then look no further.
We’ve been really humbled by an absolutely massive level of support and demand for our products both in Ireland and right across Europe, as far away as Finland.
What were the biggest challenges that you faced when setting up the new factory?
There were many! Bringing a new crop to Ireland that has never been grown here before has had its challenges.
For example – from taking an authentic cooking process (nixtamalisation) from Mesoamerica that has no parallels in Europe, and setting up a business based on it in Ireland which involved learning how to carve volcanic stones for our grinding mill.
What makes Blanco Nino different to other tortillas on the market?
This may sounds very simple, but our corn tortillas and chips actually taste like CORN. They’re made with purity of ingredients in mind, and are made with absolute respect and adherence to traditional methods, such as using volcanic stone grinders and steeping our corn overnight.
You recently opened Ireland’s first corn tortilla factory – how has that been going?
Like most startups, we’ve had teething problems getting setup. Everything takes so much more time than we’d like, but I guess that’s just how it goes. We’re now producing a product we’re really proud of, and putting finishing touches to our distribution in Ireland & the UK, so we’re just about there.
You went to Mexico to learn about the harvesting process. What did you learn there?
Many things! Mexico is an absolutely beautiful country both in its people, its culture and its scenery.
I learned an enormous amount about what goes into growing really great corn, also known as Maize. I learnt about the ancient growing system developed by the Olmec known as the: ‘Milpas’.
What can we expect from Blanco Nino in the near future?
A lot! But I’m particularly looking forward to introducing blue corn tortillas later this year.
They’re quite a bit more expensive, but they have a really incredible nutty flavour and are packed with really great antioxidants similar to level to blue berries.
How has the Local Enterprise Office Tipperary supported your business so far?
The Local Enterprise Office (in Tipperary) has been really incredible in their level of support and I owe them a massive thanks for all the help.
What entrepreneur do you admire the most and why?
Admiration is a strong word! I respect a great many people, but actually admire few. One would be Elon Musk.
I personally feel that as individuals, we need to take responsibility for the world around us and act to continuously improve it in every way possible. I feel Elon is one of few individuals that embodies and consistently executes on that.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs, who may be thinking of starting up their own business?
Stop thinking about it. Just do it, knowing that it might fail, and if it doesn’t succeed, learn from it and do it better next time!
What are your ‘top tips’ for succeeding in the food business?
Produce something you’re proud of, be passionate about it and be persistent in going about it!
To find out more about Philip’s business, visit www.blanco-nino.com , or find them on Twitter here: Twitter: @hellobanconino and Facebook here: /helloblanconino