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  /  Faces Of Entrepreneurship   /  A Company Built to Serve Latin America’s 60Million Diaspora.

A Company Built to Serve Latin America’s 60Million Diaspora.

Son of Dominican and Puerto Rican parents, he calls himself a domirriqueño and has been a social entrepreneur since his early high school years. Meet Alan Taveras Sepúlveda. He is the co-founder and owner of Brands Of. A startup company committed to exporting goods from Latin American countries and providing a dropshipping-plus-fulfillment service from Puerto Rico. Alan’s story behind problem-solving drives the guts behind one of the few distribution centers in the Caribbean. 

Di·as·po·ra: “the dispersion of any people from their original homeland.”

Work & Grind To The Tune Of Reggaeton

Alan discovered his talent as a social entrepreneur when he was in high school. He attended a prestigious private school, where the music genre, reggaeton, had a bad reputation and wasn’t reaching the students in that demographic. Nowadays, a Bad Bunny tune drops at midnight, and within 24 hours, everyone is listening to “Yo Perreo Sola” on repeat. This avid fan following wasn’t the case in the early 2000s. Hence, why Alan, an eager problem fixer, found an opportunity and sought out to organize reggaeton parties and events to popularize the genre within the said market.

Alan’s Top 5 Songs From 2004-2006

Alan in one of his party’s. Provided by Alan.

Once Alan ignited his talent to administer culture and emotional experiences in new places, he decided to hone in on his skills. He began paving his career with a Bachelor’s in Advertising from Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon and an MBA from La Universidad De Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upon graduating in 2012, he returned to Puerto Rico to dabble in startups with his brother, Néstor Taveras. Alan and Néstor started to notice a demand for Puerto Rican products in the diaspora. With their connections and networking, they began to bridge the purchasing power of 6 million Puerto Ricans in the diaspora to the local Puerto Rican products, which is where Brands of Puerto Rico was born.

Screenshot of http://www.BrandsOfPuertoRico.com February 08, 2015 via Way Back Machine

The First Marketplace

From Mallorcas, to “Pan Sobao” (Sweet Bread), to crackers from Rovira, homegrown & cherished products like these were hard to find across the states. You could try walking into your little mom & pop shop or asking your family to send you a box filled with island-made products for Christmas. The reality was, a centralized & digital marketplace for the brands of Puerto Rico didn’t exist yet. Combining Alan’s & Nestor’s brains, polished by running a creative shop founded a year before Brands Of Puerto Rico, the brothers embarked on what became their first store.

For the first few years, they experimented with different products and services to sell on the marketplace: from surprise subscription boxes to tours where you would learn to make cheese, to an all-around service marketplace. Today, none of these verticals exist. Instead, the founding team has decided to only list the products and categories that sell the most. They narrowed down the scope of the brands they carried to Gourmet, Beauty, Lifestyle, Apparel, and Artisan products. The decision not only proved to be a sound business strategy unlocked, but it also opened a blueprint to scale their venture past Puerto Rico, and on to new markets.

They found a product-market fit that satiated the needs of the Diaspora. In this process, they became a catalyst to the local producers yearning to exports their products. All, because they learned one crucial insight:

Providing a direct line of purchase between diaspora Puerto Ricans and our small businesses here on the island is an injection of fresh new capital for the producers.”

El Diario

Un Salto De Fé // A Leap Of Faith

After two years in operation, Alan, Néstor, and their team made the bold decision to rename Brands of Puerto Rico. The new company would be named “Brands Of America”… making room for their ambitions to reach a global market. The team’s trajectory set them on course to connect all of Latin America’s brands to their 60Million large diaspora.

2014

First Market Launched

Second Market Launched

Operations paused at the start of the 2018 country-wide protests.

2016
2017

Third Market Launched

Fourth Market Launched

2018
2019

E-Fulfillment Launched

Fifth Market Launched

2020

After Puerto Rico, they expanded to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, and continue on a path to cover the continent. As their team and sales continued to grow, the fulfillment aspect of the eCommerce business required attention. Once again, the team bit at the opportunity to expand their market share by tackling the pains of distribution & fulfillment. Hence, they created E-Fulfillment Solutions, a center to facilitate inexpensive and effective logistics solutions. In other words, any small businesses can now store their products, and Alan, with his team, will leverage their operational excellence to ship the product once it’s purchased.

The approach filled a gap for any entrepreneur starting their eCommerce shop from Puerto Rico. For just $135, an eCommerce entrepreneur can delegate their fulfillment needs to Brands Of & E-Fulfillment.

2019 Fee & Price Schedule:

Initial Set UpStorage Per Month
(each level shelving)
Receiving
(per pallet)
Pick & Pack
(per order)
Free$100.00$35.00$2.00
2019 Prices To Set Up With E-Fulfillment

This leap wasn’t done alone, Alan and his brother received help from supporting organizations across Puerto Rico, and the Diaspora, to achieve this. Such as Compañía de Comercio y Exportación, Parallel 18, GFR Investments, Miguel Rios of silicon valley and a friend and partner, Beto Pallares. All these partners invested through Parallel 18’s matching program upwards of $1 million to make this step real.

Where They Have Landed

Parallel 18 was a project developed to help the island bounce back from the junk bond crisis of 2014, the very year Brands Of started with only three team members, including the two brothers and an additional friend. Brands Of has doubled its sales every year since starting and, to this date, has raised $1.2 million. They have grown from a trio to a 15 member team dispersed between Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, México, and Argentina (Where their CTO is based).

Of all the ways the company has earned its money, one thing remains true, they continue to reinvent & adapt themselves. Through a partnership with Abexus, the company is gathering data on how the Diaspora in the states consumes online. Linking US and Latin American markets through user behavior seems to be their new frontier. When they succeed, they’ll outpace giants like Amazon in understanding the 60Million large Latino Diaspora residing in the United States. There’s just one word for this: brilliant!

The success behind Brands Of is evident in Alan and Néstor’s perseverance, market awareness, and their in-depth knowledge of Latino demands. Their talent to provide emotional & cultural experience is paying off. Brands Of is now looking to deepen their footprint in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic by growing their currently existing distribution centers, potentially bringing an additional 60% increase in distribution. As one of the few startup companies to raise a seed round over one million dollars in Puerto Rico, this is a company that sets a precedent for our ecosystem and its players.

“…our business goes well with the Puerto Rican story. It resonates with what’s happening in Puerto Rio, the human aspect of what we do, and how we’re helping other people, attracts a lot of other minds to the table to help us grow.”

Watch The Full Interview:

About The Author

I am a multidisciplinary artist with more than ten years of experience working for news & media companies like CNN, CNN en Español, Turner Sports, and multiple nonprofits. I blend my passion for creative writing with my expertise in design & audio-visuals to capture well-rounded, multicultural experiences for today's diverse audiences.