Tropicool Co-Founder Caio Nabuco unveils the juicy journey to his brand’s success in the region.
Tell us a bit more about Tropicool.
Tropicool brings the finest super fruits of the Brazilian Amazon in their most natural form to the region. We’re the first in the market to use non-frozen super fruits to serve up açai and mango bowls, healthy smoothies and specials with an array of nourishing toppings, where every two Tropicools sold leads to a tree being planted in the Amazon rainforest through a partnership with SOS Amazonia, an NGO focused on reforestation efforts in the Amazon Rainforest.
Tropicool was founded by my business partners Mauricio Esteves, Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Ahmed Al Thani and I – we started off as university friends sharing açai bowls before our classes at Harvard Business School.
We partnered with Rafael Vaz of Global Fruit Factory to be the official supplier for our assortment of superfruits, utilising their ground-breaking technology for our pulps, which is now the main USP of Tropicool.
Later, an international exchange of açai berries across the ocean and our shared love for hospitality and healthy living sparked the idea to share these rich flavours with the world and establish Tropicool in 2018.
Our goal was to encourage healthy eating as it’s truly a cornerstone of a healthy and happy society while giving back to our home, the Amazon Rainforest, which has recently been ravaged by fires and rapid deforestation, and truly give our customers an authentic experience in terms of taste and quality.
Dubai has been our very first international outpost and our plans include regional and global expansion.
Who are your main HORECA clients and how do you work with them?
We already have a strong presence in a few hotels and beach clubs in Dubai with more signing on soon. We’ve established a store-in-store model which allows us to work across the sector and target hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise ships, and health and fitness clubs. Logistically, our product is a lifesaver, allowing us to simplify our clients’ supply chain.
Keeping in mind the value and the freshness of the fruit, we were able to re-invent the whole supply chain process of storing fruits through our innovative technology of storing them non-frozen. By creating product packaging that protects the quality and flavour of fruits without ever freezing them, our goal is to give our clients the same delicious taste wherever they are in the world, not being limited by harsh weather conditions.
Our innovative packaging and supply chain process has helped us create the market’s first non-frozen açai, which allows for energy efficiency and reduces storage costs where the need for massive freezers is eliminated.
We work with our clients to supply them with our superfruit pulp products and depending on their requirements, the soft serve machines as well which they can then use to create fruit bowls, smoothies or drinks.
What are some of your newest products and which countries in the MENA region do you cater to?
Our current base product range includes the açai and mango pulp; we’re mainly catering to the UAE right now with plans to expand to the rest of the GCC within the year.
The Amazon is home to many nutrient-rich superfruits, and we want to add them to our product line as well, and so we’re looking at incorporating the cupuaçu, a unique Brazilian fruit that is native to the Amazon, and bananas.
What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced in the wake of COVID-19?
Before COVID-19, our business plan was to open with 50 points-of-sales by December of this year and grow to over a 100 points-of-sales by December 2021.
Of course, the global lockdown upended our plans entirely – our main kiosk in Dubai Mall was closed for a while and so were many of our hotel clients, so now we’re looking to steadily achieve the same by July 2022.
As soon as COVID-19 limited business, we immediately looked towards digitisation as innovation and agility are the core principles our company was founded on.
We built our presence on delivery platforms where we offer our bowls and smoothies on Deliveroo, Talabat and Zomato and even sell our superfruit pulps through Deliveroo – so our customers can continue to enjoy our products from the comfort of their home or create their own iterations using our innovative pulps.
What are your future plans?
We’re looking towards regional and international expansion – we really want to share the flavours of the Amazon with the entire world and encourage healthy eating, no matter where you’re based.
Franchising is an important component of our long-term business strategy and we’re already in conversations with international franchisees who love the taste, packaging, innovative processes and the responsible practices behind our brand.
We’re also looking at having a presence at international events including a massive activation at the Lollapalooza Brazil and New Years’ events as part of our expansion. Moreover, we’re looking at expanding into different sectors such as aviation and offering our products in international travel points across the world.