Néctar del Alba is an artisan sangria 100% made in Puerto Rico, with its factory and bar located in Villalba. Willie Guzmán, founder of the business, is an entrepreneur who invested $60,000 to be able to start his venture amidst a pandemic.
The idea originated in May 2018, and by June, Guzmán was working on getting all the legal documentation, as well as the search for sponsoring, and marketing, among other things.
“I finally finished the documentation for the project a little over a year and a half later, in March of 2020. My final product was ready March 10th, a week before the pandemic began,” he said.
Starting his small business during the pandemic brought a lot of complications when requesting financial aid. Most of the aids created used an extension system, in which they accounted for all the money earned before the pandemic. However, since Guzmán’s business started after the pandemic began, he did not have any earnings and, therefore, could not qualify.
“I had always wanted to open a bar, I’m passionate about cooking and mixology. I made sangrias for my own enjoyment, with no intention of selling,” said Guzmán.
“It wasn’t until 2018 that I considered it possible when I went to a birthday and brought the sangria to share as a party favor. After a few days there were people calling me to buy it. It was in that moment I decided I had to market it,” said Guzmán.
The entrepreneur requested a loan with the U.S. Small Business Administration, for another $60,000 to pay for a kitchen permit, equipment for the process of creating the sangria and to build up some initial inventory.
The clauses indicate that due to the pandemic, the loan money would begin to get paid off in 2022, giving the business plenty of time to generate income.
KIVA, an international nonprofit, also gave him $3,000, which has already been paid off.
“We have a business system in which customers, supermarkets or restaurants contact us and we sell them boxes, wholesale. Additionally, we created nine cocktails with our sangria as a base, which are included in the package to restaurants. They’re given the recipe and a training process to make and sell them,” the entrepreneur said.
Nectar del Alba’s Lunch Bar opens from Thursday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., selling three sangria flavors: traditional; passion fruit; and their most popular — guava.
“Find people who have been through the process. Take mentoring from people with experiences, as they help you avoid common problems that many first-time entrepreneurs experience. Maintain the commitment, the desire to undertake and achieve success,” advised Guzmán.