Jimmy Stambowsky moved from Brazil to Vancouver with a dream: sharing his love for Brazilian cuisine with the rest of Canada. And he did. Founded in BC, Beiju Foods was built by Brazilian immigrants with the goal of honouring their roots and sharing the best of Brazil’s creative and flavourful food culture.
As a newcomer to Canada, Jimmy quickly immersed himself in the food business world, demonstrating incredible motivation and willingness to grow Beiju Foods in spite of many challenges along the way. Taking inspiration from Brazilian Indigeneous culinary traditions and native crops, Beiju Foods offers cassava flour based products for a healthy, sustainable and gluten-free snack alternative. Jimmy sources high quality ingredients, while focusing on taste, consistency and sustainability. What’s not to love?
Beiju Foods also had the chance to take part in the Canadian TV show Dragon’s Den, where he had offers from both Vincenzo Guzzo and Arlene Dickinson. Due to his great success, Jimmy has proven his concept in our shared kitchen and graduated into his own production facility.
We had the opportunity to talk to Jimmy and learn more about his business and what success looks like for him.
What's the origin story of Bejiu?
Beiju Foods was founded by Luciano Miranda in 2017 with the idea to promote the Indigenous culture of the Amazon and our Brazilian heritage. He was very fortunate to choose a root, cassava, to be the core of the business. Extremely versatile and widely used by the natives of the Amazon for thousands of years, cassava is still a staple throughout Brazil. Cassava (aka manioc or yuka), is a healthy alternative to flour and other starches for those seeking better eating habits.
When I decided to move to Vancouver, I found Luciano’s business and immediately became interested. After long negotiations, we became partners. The idea was to move Beiju Foods from their Food Truck, Brazilian Roots, to a brick and mortar location, which would allow us to expand wholesale.
At this point, the business had two products and approximately 10 locations selling Beiju - Amazon Bread and their Cassava Bread Mix.
What inspired you to build your business?
My motivation with Beiju is to add Brazilian culture to the great cultural mix of the Vancouver food scene. Our culture shines through not only importing ingredients from Brazil, but using traditional practices to create innovative products that we hope will become part of the continuously evolving Canadian food scene.
Beiju’s Brazilian Waffles are our best seller, and were actually created due to the demand for a product that would be able to sell during the pandemic. Our initial plans of building a brick and mortar space quickly adapted to become a solely wholesale business due to the pandemic.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced growing your business? Can you share any advice for future food entrepreneurs?
Coming to Canada on the last flight before the lockdown in February 2020, with a six month-old baby and having all my savings melt as Brazil’s currency dropped 50% facing the dollar was definitely challenging. No business plan would ever prepare you for that!
Adversity can push you to innovate if you have the right mindset. Keep pushing and don’t give up, believe in yourself and observe what’s happening in your environment. My advice for other entrepreneurs is to adapt quickly but don’t lose track of your goals. Keep pushing towards your dream, hands on and make it happen.”
Why did you choose to work in a commissary kitchen? What are the top benefits?
I chose to work in a commissary kitchen because of the low investment needed at the start. Just to give an example, I looked into buying a 5qt mixer to start with, and in three months I was baking batches with a 15 qt mixer. In seven months we were using all the capacity of the 40qt mixer in the commissary. The ability to grow without investments was extremely important for Beiju Foods.
What I didn’t expect was to learn so much from the great community at Coho. Having more experienced entrepreneurs working around you is the perfect setup to grow for those willing to learn. My experience at Coho was so enriching that I’m sure that Beiju wouldn’t get to this point without the support of Coho’s Community.
What are your long-term business growth plans?
We are now sold at 100 retailers throughout BC. This year, we are hoping to go national as the demand already exists.
New products such as dairy-free and vegan waffles will launch soon, and our Cassava Crunch shall return. We also have a very innovative surprise in the books for mid term.
How do you define success?
For me success is being able to do what you like and be satisfied with the results you achieve. Success is something you need to feel and not have others tell you. (Although, recognition is always a good thing!)
Would you recommend Coho to other food businesses? If so, why?
I always recommend Coho to friends. The commissary provides a great community to start a business in, or to move to and grow. There’s always people willing to help and share knowledge. Sincerely, it doesn’t make sense to invest in your own facility if you are starting a business, as so much could happen in such a short time that it will end up slowing you down.