Building a Startup - Creative Communication is
The entrepreneurial Gabriel Gutierrez tells us about
how the lessons he learnt from the MSc in Marketing and Creativity are helping
him take his pasta sauce startup in Colombia to the next
What is your current position?
General Manager of N3 / Entrepreneur / Project
Tell me a bit about where you were prior to
starting the MSc in Marketing and Creativity at ESCP
Before starting in January 2014 at ESCP Europe, I had just come
back to Barranquilla, my hometown, after living nine years in
Bogota. I arrived in the month of June in order to start developing
my idea for a food company. I was developing all the brand
strategies, packaging, and processes and rolling out our MVP
(Minimum Valuable Product). Also, I was preparing an operations
manual for my brothers who were going to manage the company while I
A lot of MSc in Marketing and Creativity alumni have
been starting their own companies. It seems that the master really
attracts a lot of entrepreneurs. Do you think the master has
equipped you with the tools to successfully take your company to
the next level?
I think a lot of the people I've met through the course are
entrepreneurs at heart, as you say. What attracted me to this
particular master's degree was the fact that it was completely
different from any other I had seen with its focus on creativity. I
took this course because my undergraduate studies were based on
Business Administration so I wanted to diversify my skillset, which
was key to starting my own business. From the Master in Marketing
and Creativity, I acquired the tools I needed in branding,
marketing and creativity, as well as in management. These tools led
me to redevelop my brand in a more strategic and logical way. I'll
also add that I think that this degree really enables you to be
prepared to work in branding and advertising agencies, as well as
in consulting firms.
When coming up with the idea to sell sauces did you feel
there was a gap in the market in Colombia or did you feel your
product would become a need once you pushed it into your
The sauce market is one of the most saturated markets in every
country. I know, I spent a great deal of time studying the market.
But as I learned at ESCP Europe, where there is saturation, there
are actually always big opportunities. The positive aspect of pasta
sauces is that they are products, which are consumed, in large
quantities in every corner of the world, so our focus lies
primarily in having product differentiation and distinctiveness
through branding strategies. At this moment, with Tomattino, we
have only two products, which are the Bolognese and Napolitana
Sauces. But when we launch our new brand, Nº3, we will have Green
and Red Pesto, as well as Green Olives and Sun dried Tomato
Tapenade and pickled onions. After studying the market, I learned
that there is increasing demand for sauces and pickled products,
while there is stagnant demand for tapenades. In my opinion, the
reason for this is that these types of products are not common in
So, specifically in the tapenades line of products, I saw a gap
in the market, and felt that, once launched, my product would start
to create a need. My line of products is mainly for a niche market,
which is based on primarily high-income consumers who search for
different, healthy, and gourmet food products.
Do you think through the web, we've been able to be more
creative with how we communicate with consumers? What do you think
is the future of communicating with consumers?
Definitely in this era where the web and digital platforms play
more important roles than ever between brands and consumers,
companies have developed more and more different strategies to
communicate with them but brands seem not to care about the amount
of information, pictures, blogs, messages or videos consumers have
to digest every day. In my opinion, it's not about how many times
you post a day or week, but more the creativity and distinctiveness
of your strategies. The future of communicating with consumers is
placing them at the center of your strategy. It's really trying to
give them exactly what they want and also what they still don't
know they want. The real problem here is when are brands going to
stop to just throw information at us and start to make us laugh,
think or make us curious?
Starting a new company comes with its challenges. Can
you talk to me about those and how you tackled them? What would be
your biggest piece of advice to fellow budding
Work has to be constant, every milestone comes with new
challenges, and work never stops. Each new person you meet that
helps you solve one problem always leads you to a new one. This is
not a negative thing. In fact it's positive, since what that person
is telling you now is something you did not know before, and if you
had not known, it would have come anyway with experience.
How are you going to go about re-branding
Rebranding the company was a lot more difficult than I imagined
at first. It took my brothers and I around four months to find a
new brand name. Since we were neither in the same countries nor
time zones, working together was very difficult, but we did a
couple of brainstorming meetings through Skype. Additionally, each
of us came up with a whole host of brand names. In some instances,
they were already taken or they were just too close to other brand
Finally, we came up with a distinctive and unique name, Nº3,
which did not present any problems for us. After the name was
decided, we started to work with a branding agency on our design
and look and feel of the brand. At this point, the MSc in Marketing
and Creativity program really paid off since I applied various
models and processes to develop the brand identity and
Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future of
your brand? What's your dream?
Overall we want Nº3 to become the brand of choice when consumers
are searching for gourmet, specialised products. When people think
of having a meeting, gathering, dinner/lunch or party at their
home, we want them to think about our products since they make
lives easier by having delicious, craft, gourmet and healthy
products prepared specially for them. Our brand has five pillars
that will help us reach how we want to be seen by people.
- The 3 brothers: Here, we will tell our story
in a fun and engaging way.
- Support of Street Art: Our brand name and
design is unique compared to what exists in Colombia. For this
reason we want to support activities that represent our values and
we found that street art is a perfect match for the positioning of
- Local Focus: As proud members of Slow Food, we
highlight that our product is 100% Colombian, with raw materials
only from our country. This reflects the current trend of people
beginning to relate more to local products rather than
international ones. We all want to support our country's produce,
industry and people.
- Healthy & Gourmet Life: Our products are
natural, free of any kind of artificial flavors or preservatives.
Additionally our levels of fat or sugar are well maintained in
order to give consumers the chance to eat delicious food while
- Functionality: We've taken into account that
our target consumers is increasingly busy. Our products have all
the essential ingredients needed. You don't need to add salt,
sugar, extra tomatoes or meat; everything is there, making the
experience as quick and easy as possible.
In the short term (1-3 years) we would like to strengthen our
brand and distribution nationally and afterwards (in 4-5 years) we
would like to export our products to countries in need of our
Do you feel 2016 is a great time to start your own
I think the fact that the internet is in constant evolution and
is nowadays at a stage where millions of people have access to it,
people have more tools accessible to them. It's easier than ever
before to create a business, particularly if it has an e-commerce
Who are your influencers?
My main influencer is Richard Branson. His projects, messages
and optimism has driven me and helped me stay focused.
I also regularly read Entrepreneur magazine because it reminds me
that it doesn't matter how crazy your idea is, if you work hard for
it, you will succeed.
Finally, I have a role model in Colombia. He's someone who has
been an entrepreneur his whole life and made a life of his own. His
vision and attitude toward new business enables me to leave all my
fears behind and just go for it. Ultimately, this is what all
Salivating over some of Gabriel's brilliant pasta sauces or want
to follow his growing business? Follow him on Instagram
@productostomattino and on Facebook at Tomattino.
Did Gabriel's story make you intrigued to learn more
Europe and its Marketing and Creativity programmes? We invite
you to register for our next virtual session on Thursday 17th March
at 6pm (London, UK time). This is a great opportunity to ask the
admissions team any questions you might have and hear from Peter
Stephenson-Wright, the Director of the Marketing & Creativity
programmes. To register, please click here.