Berkeley-Haas Full-time MBA students Benjamin Geller, Steven Truong, Christian Kaas and Kayo Inoue worked with Peruvian food delivery startup “Bocadio” to launch the business in Lima, and craft a plan for expansion throughout Latin-America. Bocadio combines technology and gastronomy to provide high-quality meals delivered quickly at a low price-point. Originally our goal was to help Bocadio in its initial month of operation in Lima, while researching opportunities for international expansion. However, upon landing we realized that construction on the kitchen had been delayed. With this impetus, we refocused our project on preparing the Bocadio team for a successful Beta period when the kitchen completed in August, and investigating international expansion in Santiago, with Steven and Ben joining Diego for one week to meet with investors and operators.
1 – On Arriving in Peru
While the team left Berkeley at 4am, it was already night time when we arrived in Lima, excited to begin our IBD adventure with Bocadio, the latest addition to the city’s thriving food scene and the local analog to the Bay Area’s successful Munchery concept.
Making our way through the airport towards baggage collection, Steven saw an excellent opportunity for us to get started on one of the most important parts of our project. “Guys, we need to take a picture for our blog!” If I had even been irritated by tourists’ propensity to photograph themselves in the inane and inconvenient of settings, I can now sympathize that they must simply be collecting material for their IBD deliverable. This picture of us happily holding up foot traffic in-front of the Jorge Chavez International Airport international arrivals’ women’s lavatory can attest to this.
Exhausted by our trip, we were happy to have arrived a day early and to have Sunday off to discover Lima. Our first challenge was an important one, particularly given our project context: where do we eat? TripAdvisor raved about a local joint Haiti Haiti Café that was, rather interestingly, neither Haitian nor really a café. Proud of our first foray into the local culinary scene, we would later tell our client team about Haiti Haiti and how happy we were with our discovery. “This is not a good place to eat,” the team grimaced. Surprisingly, it turns out that hotdoggurl_345 from Skokie, Illinois is a poor assessor of Peruvian cuisine. Who knew?
While Steven and Christian put their extensive experience with the Spanish language and mime to communicate important things like “beer” or “fork,” Kayo seemed to be faring altogether better with her guidebook, sadly impenetrable for mere mortals, which we came to know affectionately as Japanese Guide.
2 – On Meeting Diego
Monday morning was our first meeting with Diego, who came to meet us at our hotel. Diego’s little yellow car shot through Lima traffic like a pinball, with team Bocadio in tow. “Don’t be afraid if I’m driving a little bit crazy, eh,” said Diego, elbowing his way across three lanes of traffic to catch a late turnoff, “it’s just the way you need to do things around here.” Some pink returned to our knuckles as we partly unclenched our grip our Diego’s car seats. Diego’s car would later feature in one of my dreams, with a rocket attached to the back, like a bright yellow Batmobile.
In record time, therefore, we found ourselves at Bocadio’s new office, nested above a little café in the upscale residential neighborhood of San Isidro. We enjoyed meeting so many of the people who – up to now – had only been names on an e-mail chain: Mauricio, Alex, Willy and Laura. Also present on our first day was Coque Ossio, one of Diego’s principal backers and owner of, we have come to suspect, pretty much every restaurant in Peru. Upon finding us setting up shop in a bakery near our hotel, Diego remarked “how do you like the Bonbonnière, it belongs to Coque, you know.” The restaurants at Lima airport? Coque. This celebrity connection greatly entertained us, of course, and Steven enjoyed introducing us everywhere we went as friends of Coque. Often, people would nod enthusiastically, either recognizing the name of one of the country’s great chefs, or thinking Steven was crazy. My money is on the latter.
We then had the opportunity to sit down with Bocadio’s head chef at Coque’s restaurant across the street, and perform the arduous task of taste-testing potential items for the menu. We were struck by the vibrancy of flavors, and the different uses of potatoes in the dishes – who knew that Peru had over 3,000 varietals! We knew at this point that Bocadio had a dynamite product, which was great to experience first-hand.
But back to Bocadio. One of our first tasks was to accompany Diego to meet Inventarte, his website production team, to review their progress and offer some suggestions for user-centric design based on our extensive experience of the one class Ben took on the subject. One of the main observations we made that day was that the check-out process for new users seemed overly complex, to the point of being potentially off-putting for new customers. In a similar vein, much of this first meeting focused on reducing the complexity of the Bocadio sales funnel, to make the ordering process as pleasant an experience as possible.
At the end of our first day, Diego dropped us off at one of Lima’s best-known Cevicherias, renowned for their modern interpretation of Peru’s ceviche, raw fish seized with lime juice. “The restaurant is great, but not in the best part of town,” Diego said. “Don’t leave this street.” Ben turned around to ask if he would like to join us “Dieg…”
But he was gone.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Team Bocadio’s adventures…