by Jennyfer Ubilla Reynoso
They arrived in Australia over 10 years ago, with a shared aim to learn English, study, and to one day start their own business outside of their country of origin, Colombia. While on this long journey, they married and with their limited English, started a cleaning business in Sydney by simply posting basic street advertising. Today, they are seeking to disrupt the market by introducing their “Breakfast home delivery” idea to Australia. From their beginnings, fears, challenges and new ideas, Jessica and Caesar talk to SOMOS21.
Jessica Alcila (30) and Cesar Riveros (34), open their doors to their house to tell us the story of their lives as Australians. She arrived in Sydney in 2002 at age 16 and he came to finish his last year of his Industrial Engineering degree in 2007, he also came to learn English to improve his future professional prospects.
They met at a Latin party in Sydney, which at the time were not very common, and following friendship and subsequent courtship, they married. Caesar’s first jobs were a removalist, a construction worker and as a cleaner working in offices, cleaning carpets and windows. Meanwhile, Jessica worked in an office.
How did the business idea start?
Caesar: “For the most part it was my idea; I’ve always wanted to be an independent employer, to be able to say that I don’t have someone above me. I like to be able to distribute my own time. Even though I have started to work here, and have survived working with other people. From this experience, I have learnt to run my current business, which is to clean houses, carpets, windows, offices, apartments, etc. ”
What was the hardest thing to overcome when you started your business?
Caesar: “My biggest barrier was language, and not being able to speak English well. This is how Jessica helped me to create the business, she gave me the support I needed to help start and build a trusting relationship with my clients. I felt limited; it was even difficult for me to answer phone calls. Especially when quotes were sought over the phone and I was not able to respond. But Jessica helped me and took these calls, then would call me to tell me what the client wanted, and I would tell her in Spanish about what we could offer.
Jessica: I did not know much about the subject matter, but I knew what was being said. It was a little difficult at first because I was working for a company full time, while Cesar had various jobs, but given we were able get the business up and running, we needed to inform ourselves on what paperwork was needed to continue legitimately work with clients . We did this by calling around. That process turned out to be onerous, as I still had to work my normal job, while receiving business calls and making calls to new customers during the day, and when we got home we would make flyers.
How did you establish the business in the market?
Caesar: “We made flyers using very basic online tools, as well business cards, they really looked cheap” (laughs)
Jessica: “Cesar and his business partner would walk through those fancy streets dropping flyers in mailboxes”
Caesar: (Also laughing) … They weren’t even in colour; they were black and white photocopies. And as a result we got a few customers! But they were not enough to give me the supply needed to sustain myself, so I had to continue doing removalist and construction jobs in parallel. By doing this I was able to keep the business going and build relationships with two or three clients that we had. It was not much.
How do you remember that time?
Jessica: “It was difficult, we lived on Anzac Parade, in a shared apartment and we slept on a single bed; it was a real struggle. We only had one income until Cesar could bring in more clients. It was very very hard ”
Caesar: “But the business started to grow gradually, without any professional marketing tools, only a website. Actually it was our first customers that helped establish our business and we are so thankful for that.
Do you think that the Australian market is easily accessible to foreigners?
Caesar: “Yes, the Australian culture and our culture are very different but there are things we share with the Australian culture and things they like about our culture. As a Latino, we have dealt with more misfortunes than as an Australian and that has make us more willing to make the most of our potential.
In addition, we have been taught as a culture to focus on study, leave school, keep studying to become a professional and have a career as a result of that education. Many of us come to Australia to offer what we have because we certainly have many advantages being Latinos. For our capability and for our culture. And for that reason door are opened in the Australian market ”
What is the competitive advantage, that as Latinos, we can offer to the Australian market?
Caesar: I know with my clients, we deliver a personalised service, and add a Latin touch to the things we do or undertake. People change over time, however by consistently being in contact and talking, we create a close bond between us and our clients. This is a bond of trust that is essential, given most of our customers are elderly, and we truly feel their appreciation and care. Australians are generally not as warm as we are use to, but they do trust and show affection, which has surprised us a lot and this, has certainly been what has made our business grow.
What are the new challenges? Any new ventures with the Latin brand?
Jessica: “Yes, about 2 years ago I started to see over social media, my friends were receiving gifts in the form of breakfast- home delivered . I began to look into this further and I realised that this market has been well received in Latin America, especially the sending a meal as gift on special occasions. We developed the idea, and after almost two years, we started Yummster, now just 6 months in the market, it has been well received by the local Latin community. It’s a really cool gift idea that you can order over Facebook, share posts, and that makes us very happy ”
How does Yummster work?
Jessica: You contact us through our website or via social media, we then have a quick chat over the phone to get the details of what you want to send that special person and we take care of surprise, either on their birthday, anniversary, special date, etc.