Interview by Evan Faber

Brands with Moxie Sozo
009 AMARUMAYU

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Dive deep into the Amazon Rainforest with us as we learn how AMARUMAYU is tackling global warming one powerful superfruit at a time. Surprisingly, doing good for the planet may not be the number one thing on the consumer’s mind. Join our conversation with Mark Mallardi about his wild journey to uncover the many why’s of “better” brand building.

“As people purchase our products, as we build out and scale our consumer business for our products, it geometrically scales the number of Amazonian indigenous communities we can engage and empower, and therefore, the amount of square miles of Amazon that we can help protect. So the success of our business is intrinsically related in every way to consumer receptivity, consumer advocacy, consumer uptake, and consumer involvement.”
-Mark Mallardi

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Evan Faber
Welcome to brands with Moxie Sozo. Moxie Sozo means the bold application of intelligence and creativity. This series talks about the bold moves that brands make. Their wins, their losses, and their learnings. Today, I have the extreme privilege of talking to Mark Mallardi about his project, AMARUMAYU.

Mark Mallardi
Thank you, Evan.

Evan Faber
Mark has a wealth of experience across many different industries. Yes, CPG, which is where he currently is playing, but also financial services, technology, retail, pharma. He has seen challenges from the startup level, to Fortune 500-level challenges. He’s a frequent thought leader inside the industry, has incredible wealth of knowledge about many aspects of both operations, branding and sales. Very happy to have him on, and we are going to talk about AMARUMAYU, which is an incredible, I’m going to call it a project, because long before it was a product, it was a cause. It was a cause, first, literally, that was in search of a product to espouse that cause and what a fascinating way to make change through what you’re doing. So I won’t get into it. I’ll let you, Mark, tell the story. But would you share with everyone the origin of AMARUMAYU. How it came to be, and what it is?

Mark Mallardi
Yeah, certainly. Thank you for that introduction, Evan. Yeah, we’re really proud today to represent the AMARUMAYU story, the AMARUMAYU movement and the mission, frankly, and I’ll start with the mission. The underlying premise behind AMARUMAYU, the product line and the whole backstory, is that we are laser-focused on the fact that there has been significant devastation in the Amazon Rainforest over the course of the past (longer than that), but certainly over the past couple of decades. Deforestation has run rampant in the Amazon rainforest. The backstory on our project, and how this came to be, is that in a prior life, when I was with a company called New Hope Network, who owns and operates the Natural Products Expo trade shows, I worked for a number of years with an NGO, a nonprofit that was doing work predominantly in South and Central America, working with indigenous communities to find ways to support the lifestyles of those indigenous communities and to protect the natural resources in those parts of the world. This NGO, which was called Nature and Culture International, had reached out to us when I was at New Hope Network on the premise that they had the theory of being able to commercialize, to create a commercial market for a series of amazingly health-beneficial superfruits from the Peruvian Amazon. And in doing so, in creating that commercial market for these superfruits, thereby protecting and defending the trees from which those superfruits are born, protecting them from deforestation. The long story, the long game here, being, number one, to protect the Amazon Rainforest from further deforestation, and critically, by doing so, and the secondary impact is even greater than the primary impact. The secondary effect is that beneath the Amazon Rainforest sits the largest carbon reserve in the world. The millennia of decomposition of trees and branches falling into the soil in the Amazon, there is carbon that literally runs in excess of 20-feet deep under the Amazon, under the trees. If those trees were removed, literally, not only is there a significant danger for forest fires and devastation of the landscape, the ground burns. The ground is so carbon-laden, the ground burns. So the worst aspect of it all, is that carbon then gets released into the atmosphere. It becomes carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change, to global warming. So that’s the long game. It was to find a commercial market for the superfruits, which would then effectively value the trees and the bushes from which the superfruits are born. And in doing so, protect them and prevent the deforestation of the Amazon. That was the vision. And now, long story short, fast forward a number of years, a group I was with at New Hope Network did a significant amount of US-based market research, quantitative and qualitative market research, which definitively proved that there was a considerably-sized marketplace here for these superfruits. And that there were a variety of interesting ways in which those superfruits could be served up, in food products and beverage products. So again, fast forward. Approximately a year ago, when I departed New Hope Network, I joined aboard. This AMARUMAYU initiative, which is essentially the distillation of that whole vision. What we’re doing is, we are taking those Peruvian superfruits that are wild-harvested in the Peruvian Amazon, we are pulping them locally in the Amazon, we are flash-freezing them as fresh as possible, as close to fresh as possible. And then we’re importing those superfruits into the US and blending them into a line of superfruit, emergent beverages, functionally-driven beverages, better-for-you beverages that incorporate those superfruits into them. That’s the derivation and the backstory and what’s brought us to where we are at this point in time.

Evan Faber
Fantastic. You just heard the origin story and maybe 20% of it, or 15% of it at the end was the product. And the rest of it was the cause and the mission. It’s symbolic, this project, of a new wave of businesses that are taking a benefit-first approach to establishing a practice, and so I want to applaud you, want to thank you for that, and want to dive in now to wins, losses and learnings. Starting with wins. It’s an interesting marketplace that consumers have, let’s call it two mindsets. They have the consumer mindset where they buy into the dream of making change in the world, then they have the shopper mindset, well, this one’s on sale. And this one, I’m just kind of in this mood today. So I think there’s an interesting relationship with what the consumer wants. What they say they want, and then what they actually buy. And then on the other side, you have brands that are operating with all levels of different authenticities on how much they are promoting quality, clean ingredients, who are mission-driven. So it’s this weird dynamic. But you’ve taken this mission-driven approach, and it’s counted as a win with perhaps, how it’s working with Peruvian communities, how it’s helping the Amazon forest, wins for health. What are the wins that you’ve seen so far with taking this mission first approach to building a business and a brand?

Mark Mallardi
Your observation regarding the fact that these products were 20% of that backstory is, is right on, is very astute. And that’s the reality. These consumer products of which these beverages are the leading edge of what we envisioned, frankly, they are a means to an end, they are truly a means to an end. And again, that end is protecting the Amazon, thereby protecting the indigenous communities of the Amazon, and thereby helping literally, to mitigate climate change and global warming. That’s the long game that we’re playing here. And in terms of the wins, yeah, there are a couple of the things we’ve done. Over the course of a number of years, we have aligned very closely with the Peruvian government. The Peruvian Ministry of Environment is fully aboard on this AMARUMAYU project, as is critically the Indigenous Peoples Chamber of Commerce within the Peruvian Amazon. Those aspects were critical. Nothing we’re doing here is us going it alone, and we’re not sending a bunch of people into the Amazon to pick fruit. Literally, we are engaging the indigenous communities, the native peoples that have been there for generations. We are engaging them economically, to do the wild harvesting and equipping them to do the wild harvesting, the pulping and all those aspects of the production are taking place locally, leaving that profit in the Amazon, if you will. So two of the critical wins. Number one are the environmental protections that I’ve spoken of here. And two are the societal protections of us helping to empower, economically, the indigenous communities to, number one, maintain their lifestyles critically, their way of living. And number two, we’re empowering them to create commerce, and make a living off of the things they’ve been doing historically anyway, because they are the true guardians of the rainforest. We put forward that we want our consumers to be guardians of the Amazon Rainforest, indigenous communities truly are the guardians. We are empowering them in those respects. So you have two of the critical wins. One is from an environmental standpoint, we’re taking a stand and we’re creating products that give consumers sitting at home 1000s of miles away an opportunity to vote with their dollars and to place their dollars against a product that is effectively, overtly, helping the Amazon and helping the indigenous communities of the Amazon.

Evan Faber
Interesting. Now correct my rephrasing of this, because I hear the story as one of humanity, and then environmentalism and the benefits. So what I heard initially was that we saw these indigenous communities that were vulnerable. And we wanted to protect these indigenous communities, they are surrounded by one of the world’s most important natural resources. And so they are guardians of it. If we can empower them, they can not only serve to be, but remain guardians of this, but also have the forest which benefits the whole world. Allowing them to have a sustainable culture for years and generations to come, affecting us all. Seems like concentric circles. At the core, it’s this this mission of humanity, and then wrapped around that through the How, is this environmental protection. And then the Why is for the benefit of one, and the benefit of all. For the benefit of that local culture, and for the benefit of everybody on the planet who cares about its future.

Mark Mallardi
Yeah, it’s complete concentric circles in those regards. And actually, one of the taglines we’ve been using, accordingly, is that AMARUMAYU is better for you, it’s better for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, and it’s better for Mother Earth, literally. And that indicates how the mission radiates out in those respects. It’s central to the whole narrative that we’ve woven here. An extension of this, in creating the US organization that’s supporting the brand launch of the AMARUMAYU superfruit juices, our products. Equally important, has been the way in which we’ve gone about constructing a partner network within the United States, a business partner network, to facilitate our ability to scale this business rapidly. I am literally the only US based employee of what is AMARUMAYU LLC, and we are exceedingly reliant, therefore on a very seasoned and a very hand-selected partner network of vendor companies throughout the US, who have facilitated our ability to move as quickly as we have, and to have product in market as quickly as we’ve been able to do so. In the same fashion that us creating the relationships with the Peruvian government, the People’s Chamber of Commerce, on the rainforest side of the equation was critical, equally critical has been the vendor partner selection that we’ve engaged in over the past year here in the US, and if I had to point to a third win, but potentially could have been a loss based on how we might have gone about it, it’s the fact that we’ve been blessed to work with partners and frankly, Moxie Sozo being one of those from a package design and a branding aesthetic sense standpoint, we’ve been fortunate to be introduced to partners and to work with partners who share the passion, share the vision, and have that expertise and that ability to execute against that in a really profound way. So that’s been a third win I would add to that listing, is that appropriate partner selection.

Evan Faber
Excellent. So a good note, two notes here. A good note for brands: just remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Part of your brand building is the partnership selection, the economy, the trust economy that you’re going to surround yourself with, and bringing on people who align not just with talent, but a cultural fit and understanding of what you’re trying to do. From a branding standpoint, I want to call attention to a note that you said, that I think has a profound impact on brands looking to make messaging and brand decisions. And that was the concentric circles. It’s better for you, it’s better for indigenous people, it’s better for the planet. And I wanted to note that the message started with it’s better for you, and met shoppers with their emotional need of instant gratification. And, yes, they will talk a big game about the environment and consumers can be skeptical of brands. There’s also cause for that to be the other way around. But I think ultimately, we’re trending in a great way. But a note for brands, that even though the mission might be profoundly important to you, it may not be the number one thing on the mind of the shopper. So addressing and hooking the mind of the shopper, and inviting them into your world is a powerful thing. And by starting with better for you, you’re saying that you, you the consumer, are at the center of this. And because now you are at the center, here’s how you’re impacting indigenous people and the planet. So good for you. I like that strategy.

Mark Mallardi
Yes, in fact, the research that we had done when I was at New Hope Network, on behalf of this brand, revealed exactly that. We did messaging research to assess what messaging platforms made the most sense for this brand in the US consumer marketplace, number one. And number two, what should the rank order of messaging be? And the messaging that we tested was essentially threefold. It was the better for you aspect, the health benefits, the functional benefits of these products, was number one. Number two were the environmental benefits. And number three were the societal benefits. That’s the order in which the consumer research indicated how that messaging needed to be played out. A consumer needed to see these products, recognize that they were great tasting, nutritious, better for me from a health standpoint, number one, and then once we had that brand association, that brand identification, then the fact that the secondary and tertiary benefits of the environmental protection and the protection of Mother Earth and the indigenous communities, then those became meaningful by proxy with the consumers. That’s literally the messaging on our social media platforms, on our marketing messaging, even in our packaging design and such. That’s the order in which we’ve played out the consumer communications for this brand.

Evan Faber
Huge data point there. Thank you. This is the challenge, Mark, as you say so many things, I want to go down all these different rabbit holes. It would be a four-hour conversation, but for the sake of time, you’ve given some good thought into the wins, the losses, and learnings. And we’re going to get into the weeds a little bit, which is fantastic. I think they’re topics that don’t get talked a lot about. And one of the wins, like vendor partners selection, isn’t something that a lot is given to. Another one is how you’re going to raise awareness about the brand and get people into the brand. You noted sampling programs as being a win for the brand. Can you talk a little bit about why that’s a win, and why you went that approach, and how it’s going right now?

Mark Mallardi
Absolutely critical. There’s several aspects to that story. One is, think of what we’ve been doing here, right. Our Amazon store was launched in November of 2020. Which means all of the formative work we were doing, we had about six months of runway leading up to the launch of the Amazon store. And in that six months, what were we doing? We were putting together a domestic vendor network. We were securing copackers, bottlers to make the product a reality. We were doing the importation of the pulp and the raw materials. We were building our brand. We were building our social media platforms, our Instagram presence, our Facebook presence, our YouTube presence, we were working with Moxie Sozo on the packaging of the brand. And all of that was happening during two exceedingly consequential events. One was COVID, the pandemic, raging like wildfire around the world and in the US, number one. And then close on the heels of that, the 2020 US Presidential election. So all of what we were doing, and literally that formative month of November, where we came to market on our Amazon store, was taking place during the pandemic and during the election. And, just thinking logically, one of the things that you certainly can’t do during the pandemic is sample, right? All of the conventional sampling methodology where you might sample in Costco, you might sample at the New Hope Network Natural Product Expos, you might sample at baseball games and concerts and beaches and whatnot. None of those opportunities were available to us. You can’t sample. So what we’ve done is, and I think we’ve done it quite successfully, we’ve just been so happy and blessed to have these partners. So again, these vendor partners, we’ve chosen two methods of sampling. And in both cases, the samples are going to the households, literally. We work with one organization called Moms Meet, they’re part of the May Media Group. Moms Meet makes possible the delivery, literally, of bottles of AMARUMAYU superfruit juices to mom households, households with moms and kids. So over the past couple of months, we’ve been successful in getting our product, both of our SKUs of product, into 15,000 mom households, and those moms, number one, are sampling the product for the first time. So number one, it’s a method of sampling and taste-testing. Number two, critically, it’s a way of gaining market feedback. So those 15,000 moms, a survey was administered to them. And the results of those surveys are being compiled as we speak. And these are observations on flavor, pricing, packaging, would I buy it, do my kids like it, what price would I pay, where would I buy it. We’re going to get extensive market research back from these moms later this month that’s going to help guide our marketing communications and our product development efforts and our go-to-market pricing and strategy. So with Moms Meet, that’s given us, number one, a forum for taste-testing and product exposure, and number two, a forum for advocacy, because those moms then do product reviews on social media, and they’re very active on our behalf now on social media platforms online. And then, number three, it exposes our products to them in a profound way, where hopefully they’re going to go to Amazon and purchase our product. So that’s one sampling mechanism we’ve used. The other is a company that previously was called SnackNation. Now, they’ve rebranded as Caroo. SnackNation’s business has evolved into delivering healthy snack boxes, which now include our beverages, to households, predominantly Millennial and Gen Z households. So what we’re doing is, over the course of about a four-month period of time, we’re delivering upwards of 75,000 product samples, full 16-ounce bottles of our product, to these SnackNation households. And if there’s one lesson I’ve learned from this foray into the beverage industry, they use the expression, “cans in hands”. You’ve got to get “cans in hands”. People have to try it, they have to experience it, they have to like the taste of it. So the “cans in hands” premise of sampling and getting it out there in innovative ways has been a critical win for us and a critical learning, that again, partially, is the result of COVID and the shutdowns and the lack of traditional ways of doing what you would otherwise do in the beverage marketing world.

Evan Faber
This is one of the reasons why you’re awesome, Mark. You not only answered the question with two incredible new resources for people to think outside the box when it comes to sampling during a tough time, but buried in your answer was a six-month program to ramp up and launch a beverage brand. Like, if you rewind to that part, it sets forth, well here’s kind of all the checkboxes, which was amazing as well. I want to have you talk a little bit about another win you called out, and then we’ll switch over to the losses, but that was outsourced accounting support. What was that all about?

Mark Mallardi
Yeah, I’ll tell you. You know, again, I am the sole US employee of this entity. All of my colleagues are in Peru and other parts of the world, literally. And, frankly, if there’s one aspect of starting a business and running a business that can be profoundly intricate, obtuse, whatever terminology you want to use, it’s the accounting practices side of the business. How you account for revenue, sources of revenue, the financial reporting requirements, the tax reporting requirements. And one thing I can’t recommend enough is, if you don’t already have that personal expertise, or if you don’t have some semblance of an organization within that which that exists, look for an outsourced accounting vendor. We have one, their called Supporting Strategies, and they are phenomenal. This is a confederation of CPAs, auditors, etc., who essentially work on a project basis. So we turn over our accounting to Supporting Strategies, they handle all aspects of it. And there have been intricate things that would have commanded my time and a skill set that nowhere near was up to the task, and I’ve been able to utilize Supporting Strategies in that vein. I can’t say strongly enough what an important decision that was early on, and it’s a difficult one, because the financial reporting and the intricacies of your financial model, your economic model, those are things we hold so close, and there’s a lot of proprietary knowledge in there. So there’s often a reticence to let that go, to hand it over to a third party. But we did it, we did it from the outset, and I am so thankful that that we did, it’s been critical to our ability, number one, to be compliant, financially compliant, tax compliant, tax accounting purposes, auditing purposes, and just the whole aspect of cash flow, money management, etc. I can’t emphasize strongly enough what I believe what a key decision point that is in the advent of the startup.

Evan Faber
That’s phenomenal. And it’s also a case study example of making a decision based off abundance and not fear and scarcity. So, if you have your hands clenched around fear and trying to hold on to everything, while your hand isn’t then open to receive, and if you keep your hands then open, and are more giving and thoughtful, making decisions from a place of strength and abundance, you’re opening yourself up to receive more than you could have imagined, because you’re inviting other partners into the circle.

Mark Mallardi
Well put.

Evan Faber
Talking a little bit about some losses. One of the losses was the challenge of competing, you mentioned it earlier, with the Presidential election cycle. I would imagine these losses came from taking hits on being able to spread some awareness or where did you feel the heat here?

Mark Mallardi
The key area, and this is really, really interesting. And perhaps it makes intuitive sense once you hear it. The area where we were really constrained, was social media. Think of what we’re doing here, right? The core of what we’re doing is around deforestation, preventing that from happening, therefore helping to mitigate climate change, global warming, hot button topics. There’s a lot of skeptics who don’t necessarily believe in climate change and global warming. The loggerheads and the head knocking that was going on between the political parties. So what happened was, in the run up to the presidential election in November, which coincided completely with the run up of our business towards our Amazon store opening, we were largely prevented on Facebook and Instagram (predominantly) from running any posts or any campaigns that dealt with the issues of climate change and global warming, because they were viewed as hot button political issues at that point in time. So there were entire campaigns that we wanted to launch on social media throughout the August, September, October, November timeframe that the major media organizations didn’t allow us to run. So that meant we were set back several months in that regard, from going wide with our messaging on deforestation, on global warming, we were only able to initiate that in December and January, like very recently, and that was directly correlated to what was happening with the US Presidential election cycle.

Evan Faber
How did you pivot or what did you do when you hit that wall?

Mark Mallardi
One of the things we did, and actually, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, we experimented with the use of influencers. In addition to all of the other go-to-market strategy elements, some of which we’ve spoken about here, we have selectively used social media influencers. We chose influencers at that point in time, who dovetailed with our message of a green company, an environmental business model. So we sought out influencers who had that type of pedigree, who had a pedigree that was attached to the environment, that was attached to preservation of species, that was attached to movements against deforestation. So we found selective ways to get our message out there, in a pinpoint fashion. So rather than using the mass social media that we were prevented from doing in terms of running ads, we approached it from the editorial standpoint. We went with select influencers who had that type of environmental pedigree, and we aligned our interests with them. And in concert with that, we did some traditional public relations outreach through traditional channels, that was anchored around our environmental platform, and the importance of the underlying environmental aspects of our mission. So it was tricky. And I will say, and this ties back to another learning, I think, it was that aspect of adaptability, being able to react to things in the moment. If there’s another thing I’ve learned from this startup process thus far, it’s that as closely held as you might have a set of beliefs or a series of tactics or strategy that you’re adhering to, you’re staying on-message, staying on-point, things are going to happen that are profoundly interruptive of that and things that you need to adapt to, and react to almost in real time. And that was one of them. That preclusion from us putting out on social media in a mass way, our underlying environmental and societal message, that preclusion was a major hiccup at the time. But what it resulted in is the need for us to get creative quickly, almost in real time. And we found ways to address it. And I think that lesson learned is going to be something that’s going to be an ongoing benefit to us because it showed us that as strong as we might believe our strategy is, and as rigidly as we want to keep to that strategy and to the core, the essence of it, things happen. Things happen in real time by which you need to be adaptive and flexible in all aspects of the startup, go-to-market strategy.

Evan Faber
Well, that’s fantastic. I attended a session at South by Southwest that was put on by CIA agents, and how they teach creativity to the CIA. Dovetailing your point about flexibility and adaptability when hitting a roadblock. They would say, frame a question, an open-ended question. So you hit the roadblock, we can’t go through traditional social channels. The traditional question might be, how can we communicate differently? Or what’s another channel, we could communicate differently? An open-ended question would be, what are ALL the ways that we can communicate now that this platform is shut down? How are all the other ways we can tell our message? Or what are all the ways we could frame our message so that it could come across on social media. So just opening the mind up, going off of your flexibility, that’s maybe an exercise people can do if they’re stuck to open up some thinking processes.

Mark Mallardi
Yeah, absolutely. Another example of that is, the other thing that we pivoted on, and found to be very effective, and we’re gonna go down this path heavily, is user-generated content. It’s one thing for us to push a message out there that says, hey, we’ve got these amazing beverages, they’re health beneficial. Here’s the ways you could use them. You can blend them into cocktails, etc. It’s another thing for us to literally put the cans in the hands, get the beverages in the hands of consumers, and then follow them. See what they do with these products. So the other aspect of how our ability to get out the message has been facilitated, has been us opening ourselves up in a large way to user-generated ideas, content paths to go down. Whether that be that our bottles are aluminum bottles, our packaging is unique that to my knowledge, we’re the first hot-fill process of a beverage, non-carbonated into an aluminum bottle. Our products are fully recyclable and reusable. And one of the fun things is seeing the variety of ways in which consumers are reusing the bottles, what purpose they’re utilizing the bottles for once they’ve consumed their beverage, and in what ways they’re consuming our beverage, what they’re mixing it with, what meal choices they’re pairing it up with. So now, going in deeper into 2021, we have a whole platform anchored around exactly that. Us engaging with consumers in a profound way to let them guide the marketing effort. Some of it’s going to take its own course, based on the ways in which consumers are engaging with our product, utilizing it, and frankly, expanding our vision about what’s possible for this product line.

Evan Faber
Hmm. I’m thinking about this term that just dawned on me a little bit of “organic branding”. It’s not synthetic, but it’s setting up a natural culture around a brand that allows for people to message the brand organically, where they have the knowledge and the inspiration to go out and tell the story. We talk a lot about organic products, organic ingredients, well what about creating organic brands that foster that level of relationship?

Mark Mallardi
That’s really interesting. Another practical example of this is, we’re again, rather unique in the beverage world, in that we started completely online. Exclusively online. We started with no retail distribution whatsoever. And that was by conscious design. It was the most efficient way to come to market, especially during the pandemic. And with the advent of Amazon becoming the go to for virtually every type of product. We started exclusively online through Amazon. Now as we go down the path here to market, the second thing we’re doing is building out our own Shopify storefront. And the Shopify storefront is not meant to compete with the Amazon storefront. In fact, we may not even offer the same products. What we’re likely going to do in the Shopify store is we’re going to offer up product configurations that are somewhat user-generated that are somewhat user-provoked or user-driven. So we’re looking at different product configurations, different orchestrations of the products, like selling our products in conjunction with other third-party products that make a natural pairing, and a lot of that input we’re getting back from our consumers, from the users themselves, who are going to help drive what we make available on our Shopify storefront.

Evan Faber
That’s awesome. And that’s something we’ve actually talked about on this, is about how there doesn’t have to be a wall between the company and the consumer. We have to question why this convention exists. And why we live in a world as brands where we’re like, we’re innovating, and we might lob something over the wall and listen carefully to see if it landed. But what if we broke down the wall and co-created? Why not bring them along as part of the journey?

Mark Mallardi
I can’t agree more. To-date, we’re not using conventional media. We’re not doing billboard advertising. We’re not doing television advertising. We’re not doing even, like, magazine advertising. Almost everything we’re doing from a communication standpoint, and a messaging and an ad standpoint, is all on social media. It’s on our own website. And it’s through digital channels. Now, what does that do for you? It gives you a VERY direct pipeline to individual potential consumers. And once you’ve got that very direct pipeline, what it does is, it creates a channel of communication, it creates a two-way channel of communication. And we are committed to having that truly be a two-way channel of communication and helping those consumers guide our brand going forward, even in terms of flavor selections. We have started with two particular superfruits. One is called Camu Camu, and the other is called Buriti. Those are just two, though. There are a variety of amazingly health beneficial superfruits from the Peruvian Amazon we haven’t even tapped yet. So part of the user-generated, we’re going to be engaging with our audience to find out where they want us to go next. What other superfruits in the potential inventory that we have are most meaningful to them, which would they really get behind, and that’s going to, to a good degree, help drive our product development efforts and help drive our ability to scale the scope of our efforts within the Amazon itself, because a fundamental principle of our business is the following: right now, we are engaging in a commercial relationship with only a fraction of the indigenous communities that are in the Peruvian Amazon. My understanding is that there are as many as 300 to 400 indigenous communities throughout the Peruvian Amazon. We’re currently engaging with less than 10 in terms of the commercial relationship, which means that limits the amount of the Amazon that we’re protecting. As people purchase our products, as we build out and scale our consumer business for our products, what that does is, it geometrically scales the number of Amazonian indigenous communities we can engage and empower, and therefore, the amount of square miles of Amazon that we can help protect. So the success of our business is intrinsically related in every way, to the consumer receptivity, the consumer advocacy, the consumer uptake, and the consumer involvement, literally the direct consumer involvement in where we go, how we go, and what we put into market.

Evan Faber
Wonderful. We’re coming up on time. I think we’ve covered a lot of ground. Before we transition into a couple of closing questions, was there anything else that you wanted to speak to about a win or loss or learning that you really want to get across?

Mark Mallardi
Yeah, there’s, there’s actually a couple. And they’re kind of interrelated. One is the critical importance of narrative storytelling, and this is what I discovered, when I was at New Hope Network all those years. We had 1000s of amazing exhibitors. Startup companies in the natural and organic space at our Expo shows, and the ones that were most profound, that caught your attention, were the ones that had the backstory, the people that wore their passion on their sleeve, and where within five minutes of meeting them, you knew why they were doing it and why they were so passionate about the product that they were bringing to market. I personally learned from that. Through this process of introducing AMARUMAYU to the marketplace, I see the critical importance of us getting the narrative storytelling right. Putting the story of our brand forward in a profound way, and in a narrative way where it’s engaging. It’s the old campfire story. We sit around the campfire and we listen to stories. A storyline engages people, it makes things real for people and engages them emotionally. And it reaches them on a visceral level. So, one is the critical importance of narrative storytelling. And, in close proximity to that, frankly, is the critical importance of, essentially, the iconography of the brand. The visual identity of the brand. Obviously, Moxie Sozo has played a significant role for us in that regard in the packaging design, both bottle design and the six-pack packaging design. I can’t stress this in any bigger way, especially during a pandemic, where people predominantly aren’t going in stores. They’re not shopping in grocery stores and traditional retail. They’re shopping online. So the importance of the iconography, the visual brand identity, to jump off that page digitally and grab you as you’re shopping the Amazon store, or as you’re conducting your e-commerce, is more important than ever, it’s perhaps more important than the stopping power of that brand on-shelf at retail, is the stopping power visually and narratively engaging you of that brand online from a digital standpoint. Those have been two key learnings that have helped guide the strategy and the go-to-market aspects of how we’re bringing AMARUMAYU to market, and the last thing I want to mention in this respect is that I mentioned a little bit earlier about the two superfruits, the Camu Camu and the Buriti. And just quickly, why these are so profound, and I keep talking about amazingly health beneficial, what I’m talking about is the Camu Camu fruit is literally the most dense, concentrated, natural source of vitamin C on the planet. The Camu Camu fruit, which is a small fruit, has 50 times as much vitamin C as an orange, 60 times as much vitamin C as a lemon. So it’s a highly concentrated source of vitamin C. So that’s Camu Camu on the one hand. The Buriti, on the other hand, has, to a lesser degree, vitamin C and vitamin A, it has omegas three, six and nine. So it’s profoundly rich in antioxidants. And it has minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron. So both of these superfruits are inherently immunity boosting. They’re inherently health beneficial and functional. And that’s the reason why we focused on those two at the outset and during this time of pandemic and COVID, the need for immunity boosting has never been greater. So those two superfruits, therefore, were the starting point. And these superfruits are in massive abundance in the Amazon. And our ability successfully now, to incorporate them into these nutritious, delicious (we believe) beverage product line that we’ve established here and to get them out to the masses, it truly is a story as we started with, of better for you, better for the indigenous peoples, better for the Amazon, better for Mother Earth, literally start to finish.

Evan Faber
That’s fantastic. And yes, the flavors are so vibrant. They’re delicious.

Mark Mallardi
Thank you.

Evan Faber
So, last two questions. We’ve got a wild card question that we throw in the mix. And then we’ve got a shameless plug for you to talk a little bit more about we’re buying the brand. But the wild card question we have for you, is you’ve worked with some Peruvian, you’ve worked with some indigenous cultures, what’s something you’ve learned from them, whether it’s a life philosophy and approach to business? Something that you’d want to change, what’s something that has struck you, working with these cultures as interesting?

Mark Mallardi
Well, I would say that what you see and hear repeatedly, and again, this might be intuitive, but if you haven’t had contact with indigenous folks, perhaps not as much so, it’s the aspect of how they look at these natural resources as being beyond the ownership of man. Meaning that, in the US here, we own real estate, and every plot of ground is owned by someone and the natural resources that are inherent in that land therefore accrue to a particular individual or corporation or a group of people. And in the Amazon, it’s completely different. They view the Amazon as this natural resource for mankind, in which they intend to live in harmony. So therefore, all of the efforts at logging, at prospecting for gold, at taking down the trees in the Amazon and bringing in ranching, and cattle farming, and all those things are so alien to the mindsets of the indigenous peoples because the indigenous peoples look at that land, and they look at the productivity, the bounty of that land as something that’s beyond the reach of man. It’s not to be owned, it’s not real estate to be owned, it’s a communal resource that is to be shared, and number one shared, but number two, importantly, preserved, meaning that when you see a tree that has 10 pieces of fruit on it, don’t take all 10. Don’t even take 8 of the 10. Take 4 of the 10. Leave a sufficient amount on that tree for the native animal life, the fauna of that area, to consume. And for the natural reseeding of the tree and repopulating of the tree that needs to take place. That’s a lesson we’ve learned from them to the extent that we buy no fruit from trees that have been felled, that have been taken down. We only take fruit from trees in small amounts, meaning we’re leaving an abundance there for the native animals, for the reseeding. So we’ve learned from that mindset that these are not resources to be exploited. These are resources to be communally shared and repopulated. The allowance for the repopulation of these resources. It’s a real shift of frame of reference from ownership of an asset. I own this land, I own the oil on this land, I own the trees on this land, to no, this is a resource for humanity. This is a resource for humanity. And if we respect it, live in accordance with it, and preserve it, we’re all going to benefit from it on an ongoing basis. So that’s the frame of reference shift that is important for us, and for the indigenous peoples, it’s just the way they look at it. That’s life for them. Life and land and the fruit on that land and the resources all go together. It’s not under the ownership of one individual or one corporation or another.

Evan Faber
That’s incredible. I don’t think it’s intuitive to everybody. It’s a concept that’s familiar. I’ve heard that before. For people who fall into the familiar category, who haven’t connected emotionally with the profound impact of what, Mark, you just said, and I’ll put myself in that category of wanting to reflect a little bit on digging deeper into what it would mean, to see the world that way, because I’m familiar with that concept. But I don’t think it’s as intuitive. I haven’t connected with that concept in a profound way. And I think that that’s an opportunity to improve and to see the world in a better light. I appreciate you bringing it up. Lastly, Mark. Shameless plug. Tell us a little, anything else you want to know about AMARUMAYU. Where you can find it. Anything else about the amazing, the functional benefits, the flavors. When you do something natural, it’s packed with the flavor and benefits already. And that’s what AMARUMAYU is all about. So, anything else you’d want to add?

Mark Mallardi
Yeah, I would say the tastes of these drinks are unique. They are truly unique. Some people have some awareness of Camu Camu. It’s mostly been available in powder form. Up until our beverage, we don’t believe it’s been available in beverage form. The Buriti on the other hand, which the indigenous peoples call aguaje, the Buriti is literally unknown in the US. The only way it’s been utilized in the past, to our knowledge, the Buriti oil has skin protection, and skin rejuvenation properties. So there are some facial products and Dove skincare products that use the Buriti oil, but no food or beverage products have used it in the past. And if I had to give a frame of reference for the beverages, the Camu Camu is closer to what you would think of as being a juice product. It’s more familiar as a juice product, and when people taste it, we get all kinds of reactions as to the taste, people will speak to hints of papaya, hints of mango, coconut, and that’s the beauty of it. These superfruits are pretty alien to us. So it’s all up to the interpretation. But the Camu Camu is hydrating, it’s delicious. It’s truly delicious. And again, it has the strong functional benefits of being super antioxidant rich with that concentration of vitamin C. The Buriti, on the other hand, is a little bit more smoothie-like, it’s not as thick as a smoothie. But its consistency is a little bit thicker than the Camu Camu. Truly exotic tasting. This one, I’m told, makes an interesting mixer for cocktails and we’re getting a lot of user-generated recipe suggestions in terms of cocktails and mocktails in that regard, and again equally antioxidant rich, completely nourishing, very drinkable. Both of these drinks can be enjoyed throughout the day. They could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They both are hydrating, they both are nourishing, and critically, all of the sugar that’s in these products is naturally occurring sugar in the fruit juice, there’s no added sugar, there’s no preservatives, nothing unnatural in these products. There’s literally four or five ingredients in each of these two products. And moving forward, we are available on Amazon, as we mentioned before, so the AMARUMAYU brand if you go on there and you search under “superfruit juice”, our product line will come up. We’ve been selling quite well on Amazon. As of this morning, I think we’ve got in excess of 60 product ratings of which 90 plus percent are four- and five-star ratings, so the products have been very well received on Amazon. So yeah, you can purchase them on Amazon, search under “superfruit juice”. We have our own corporate website, AMARUMAYU.com, which has a lot of amazing information, and we have an expansive amount of information on social media. We do have an AMARUMAYU Instagram, Facebook and YouTube channels. And on YouTube, we’ve got, I think, 26 videos already. And the videos are everything from product videos to interviews with the indigenous communities as we were referring to before, and a lot of amazing video footage of the Amazon and what’s at risk, what’s at stake and what we’re protecting. And, last but not least, moving forward, we are looking at more conventional distribution channels, I mentioned we’re going to build a Shopify store, so that’s definitely happening. We are achieving selective, like one-off distribution right now in brick-and-mortar. We’re actually distributed in the Laughing Man Cafe in New York City, which is owned by Hugh Jackman. It’s a fair-trade coffee enterprise, we’re distributed there. And we are now looking at a number of other specialty distribution opportunities such as the military. We are looking at the natural organic class of trade, and even some mainstream retailers. So a lot more to come in that regard. But in an immediate sense, Amazon is the place to purchase AMARUMAYU Superfruit Juices.

Evan Faber
Awesome. Mark Mallardi. Thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom today. It was incredible.

Mark Mallardi
My pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity and for the partnership with Moxie Sozo.

Published

April 07, 2021