They have 4 children together, in their team she is in charge of communications and is also the co-founder of the company she imagined. He is a lawyer, international consultant specialized in higher education and online education; now he is a successful entrepreneur with his wife, too.
Paula Sanchez and Jose Castro are Chilean partners living in Miami, their home is a wonderful place in the very chic, exclusive and convenient Key Biscayne. They received me on a Sunday morning to talk about their success, to share formulas, and so that everyone starting their dream of innovation and independence does not feel alone.
The main company has clear and defined goals, it is called Teikirisi, a play on words between the Spanglish, and what they wanted, to facilitate the life of a few privileged people, but fundamentally to be a business connection between U.S. and Chile, with a clear view on Latin America. From there they do consulting, give international certifications and manage the personal shopper business. The latter has been very time consuming, for entrepreneurship is extremely demanding. This company is called K te llevo (slang way of writing “what should I take you” in Spanish) and has been a triumph in the life of Paula and Jose. Let’s see what K te llevo is about, and how to draw success and personal peace with one stroke.
Paula was the one who answered our questions, with Jose “Pepe” always attentive, giving support.
“This idea came from what we saw as a lack of connections from Miami to Latin America. Maybe Colombia and other countries have it, but Chile and Peru still have limited reach. I was attached to the idea of K te llevo, and that is why we chose this name, to make a very graphic representation of what we offer: being able to take U.S. and European stores to your home,” explained Paula, with the sweet accent of the Chilean Spanish.
The onset of this startup may seem familiar: “Hey girl, I’m sending a box to your house, can you send it to me in Chile? Paula, I need a favor! I love those shoes, can you buy them for me?” “And I said ok” remembers Paula “I can do that for my friends, but when it is the friend of my friend, or my cousin’s friend, I said no. I can do that, but I’ll charge you. Everything changed with the social networks. I started to use Facebook and posted things that I liked, or maybe I would go to a store and made a post saying ‘look at this offer’ and saw that people answered ‘I want it!’”
Now, people don’t have to wait to travel or waste hours looking through a sea of choices. Everything comes from a different Chile, though, a higher strata. A better quality of life? Of course, says Paula “Chileans travel a lot to Miami, but they don’t spend their whole vacations shopping. The idea is to be able to do other things and also have assistance. At the beginning I focused on finding the lowest prices, opportunities, sales and offers. Sort of like Marshall, I want to be a facilitator of quality products at good prices, because there are plenty of American brands in Chile but the prices are outrageous, and people often get lost and don’t know how to get the products to their homes from the U.S., there is also a distrust on payment systems.
However, K te llevo is not a courier service, it’s not only a shopping service, it’s the sale of time, good taste and a high dosage of communication. For instance, Paula says, “…the advantage of our company has been the customer service. My idea is to transmit the American experience in my service. If the client gets a defective product, it’s not right, or she doesn’t like it, it’s ok. Don’t worry, we have a return policy. We are going to solve it, in other words, we are going to give a support not found otherwise, a support that friends or acquaintances are not going to provide.”
Paula does it all, she has made many alliances for that, she knows the best and more efficient shipping services and has built alliances with them, which benefits her clients. “We find the best solution depending on the product, we optimize shipping depending on weight and volume.”
A guide in the jungle, that may be the description for this job
“Now I have big clients, the Chilean interior designers have acquired my services, and when I offer a product line to a designer, I don’t offer it to any of their competitors, it’s an exclusive product, that is why we know our portfolio so well,” assures the entrepreneur.
Entering this market allowed K te llevo to grow a lot more, from normal people with high purchasing power, she went to a new line of customers. Paula says that designers ask for very specific products, and she understands them like no one else. In Chile they say “La Paula is going to get it, don’t worry!” There was a big mouth to mouth buzz about her service, which prompted to a call: “Paula, I need your to help to decorate seven beach houses.”
Now the products of this service are displayed in decorating magazines.
Paula calls her providers, with whom she has already built a relationship, and starts to search. This business, says the Chilean, “lives 365 days a year, 7 days a week and 24 hours a day in U.S.” She says this is the ideal country, because the trust to small businesses is crucial. It is also crucial to believe your own story of success, “you have to believe the story,” she says, as she takes the role of entrepreneur and negotiates, sells, pays taxes, learns and now hires, for she employed 3 additional people, who help her mostly on internet searching.
Pepe says, “it’s really fun to see her walking through Soho in New York, taking pictures, uploading them online and immediately getting to business. ‘I want one,’ ‘I want five,’ in the Holidays work was crazy.” “Yesterday I was having dinner here in Miami with one of my favorite clients,” says Paula “an ex-classmate at University of Chile, and she was telling me that I made her Holidays. I offered her a wide variety of products, and although she could have found something in in Chile, she didn’t have as many choices as I gave her. This same client still uses my services although she is here. That way she avoids her husband bugging her for going shopping all the time and avoids having too much luggage.”
K te llevo already has a range of exclusive clients, and although savings are not it’s main plus, when we look at it closely, we find that:
- Her clients save a lot of time and money in transportation, and by not spending time searching online.
- Paula has direct access to offers with U.S. stores.
- As a rule of thumb the products she offers are three times as expensive in Chile.
- K te llevo didn’t need a large initial investment, the biggest investment is coming now with focus in marketing, improving their online platform and social networks.
- Conservatively, we are speaking of 40 percent earnings. It’s a viable business.
- The business is expanding, but a good entrepreneur knows not to grow carelessly, Paula and Jose know it and if it grows too much they’ll simply sell K te llevo.
- Social networks are of great help, and apps like Whatsapp allow for direct contact.
- Paula seems to have the ideal job for many women, and she confirms it: “For me this is a dream job. It’s the best scenario for Pepe too, I buy so much for other people that I rarely buy for myself.”
There are many people with ideas, good taste and time. The difference with Paula and her startup is that she is organized and has a system for pricing. “I calculate the amount of work I do and from that I set the price, that’s mostly in big projects. For small projects I put the mark-up in the shipping cost. I offer a complete package in this case. A good example are the bandanas for the World Cup. A store in Chile asked me to find the best price for bandanas with the different flags of each country, and I found a supplier in China, with the best price and quality. The client liked it and made an initial order of 3000 bandanas.”
Paula went from friends and friends of friends, to designers, and now convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and hotels demand her services. Frankly, possibilities seem to be endless. But it’s not magic, it’s skill, “I have a good commercial eye for products that are going to generate earnings,” she says.
She likes to live in U.S. where no one questions her profession, in Latin America people are often less open to this. “I am 41 years old, I wanted to make a life change, be independent. At first I thought about something small, but it grew to this business that creates jobs, that people look for, that people trust. We created a brand, and we are proud that in such a short time we got to be known as a premium service.”
Jose sees her with pride, he trusts on Paula’s instinct and also applies the knowledge of his MBA to help the business. “His marketing vision and his ideas help me a lot. I contact the client, I choose the product and execute the sale, but I have tremendous support from the back office. If it wasn’t for his help I could not execute.