Fifty reals. That’s how much the then medical student, Andrezza Guerra, 26, invested to start selling brigadeiros in 2015. The money was to stay in the city where he studied (Belém, PA) and pay the course tuition. Six years later, having already graduated, she is divided between the shifts and the candy store, which became a family business and continues to grow.
Today, the brigadeiros business already generates R$ 400 thousand in net revenue per year. The menu has been diversified and she has rented up to a point to transfer the factory from her home to a professional kitchen. Hundreds of cakes and sweets will be produced there, even for large events. “The goal now is to reach my first million”, declares the entrepreneur.
“Many people thought I was going to stop with the candy store when I graduated, but now I want to achieve other things, study, continue with medicine and with the candy store. My goal today is far above.”
Entrepreneurship is in the family
The story of Andrezza from Maranhão in entrepreneurship began in the family, which had a small machine shop in Imperatriz, MA. “I had a real internship with my parents, who always created and innovated a lot. They always encouraged us to work.
When the family business failed six years ago, she was inspired by that entrepreneurial spirit. At the time, she was entering her sophomore year at a private medical school in Belém, where she has lived ever since.
That’s when he had the idea of selling brigadeiros to pay the bills. For this, he had the help of two friends. The sweets were sold at an average of R$ 2, which earned him R$ 4,000 a month, an amount that fully covered his expenses.
To innovate in recipes, Andrezza turned to the internet for inspiration. “We didn’t want to make a common brigadeiro that everyone made. We started making all kinds of things (with Oreo biscuits, Passatempo, even a nest with Nutella).”
The novelty was so successful that students from other classes and teachers started looking for it. “Out of nowhere, my cell phone had a message asking for it. So I started baking cakes in the pot and selling them in the canteen and then hundreds of brigadeiros for events. We stayed like that for a couple of years.”
Not even the demanding routine of the medical course, which took up the entire day, made Andreza give up on his endeavors. She bought the ingredients between classes and produced the sweets in the early morning hours.
Cart is a registered trademark
The sale of candy not only helped Andrezza pay for the rest of his college education, but the work became the family’s source of income. In 2017, she decided to become MEI and opened Villa Doce, working only with deliveries, via apps and social networks. The parents came to live in Belém and started to help with the business.
Much of the sales are made in the cake cart designed by the girl’s father, who has a captive audience in one of the busiest squares in the center of Belém. “I adapted a cart that we use to sell açaí in Imperatriz,” says Rildo Guerra.
In the cart, there is even an exclusive product of the brand: the slice of cake filled to order, sold for R$ 14. There are eight options of fillings, such as chocolate, strawberry, milk, lemon and grape.
There are even brownies, personalized and themed cake pots, and candies and cakes for every type of event, from birthdays to weddings and graduations.
Family invested and qualified
When Andrezza started the business, the production was done in the kitchen of the apartment itself, in a space of 36 m2. In 2019, they had to move into a larger apartment, whose kitchen is twice the size. The new phase also generated temporary jobs. A team of eight assistants takes turns on a daily basis, when the need arises.
The changes made the candy store look more like a company, with a division of tasks between Andrezza and her parents, which improved the business’s work flow. “Andrezza was left with all the creation, photography and Instagram part; the mother with the production and all her administration and I, with the purchases, packaging and deliveries”, says the father.
For Rildo, this was a watershed in the professionalization of the service. “From that day on, there was an improvement, with each person having their responsibility, with the objective of making punctual deliveries and also the concept of taste.”
To meet all the demand, the mother, Gilzelia Guerra, had to qualify. “I used to bake cakes at home, but I didn’t have the security to bake for events, so I took online and on-site confectionery courses, as well as a lot of internet research,” he says.
The entrepreneur even set up a mini photo studio in her living room to take photos of the products for social media. To equip the new production area, her father took out a loan of R$7,500, which has already been repaid.
The business has grown so much that this year the family is in the process of opening a micro-enterprise and transferring the kitchen to a rented point. “My idea is to start with the factory and put the cart at the door. Then I want to open up the space to the public”, says Andrezza Guerra.
Food grew in Pará
Food is among the activities in the service sector that grew the most in Pará. According to Sebrae, 9,318 small companies in this segment were opened in the state between June 2020 and February 2021. The majority (7,253) are MEI. The activity is second only to hairdressers and manicures, with 12,778 new businesses.
The technical analyst of the customer relationship unit at Sebrae/PA, Allonny Faria, explains that most entrepreneurs invest in hamburgers, fast foods and sweets…
And this activity is one of the most sought after for those who want to open a business, because the entrepreneur starts with what he has, usually without major investments, doing something he knows, just like Andrezza. “As they become profitable, they invest, structuring, creating the brand, social networks and strategies to establish themselves in the market against competitiveness”, says the Sebrae analyst.
Allonny believes that Andrezza chose the right path, which took her from the sale of brigadeiros in college to the dream company. “Andrezza did the test entrepreneurship cycle. It starts testing in college, then it scales up the business as the company grows and the market brings new possibilities.”