As Junea Rocha settled into her life as a civil engineer in the United States, she found herself homesick for pão de queijo, a popular cheese bread from her home country of Brazil. This snack was a staple for Ms. Rocha growing up, and as she learned how to make it for herself, she saw an opportunity to share it with US consumers. In 2010, Ms. Rocha started Brazi Bites, a snack company specializing in her beloved Brazilian cheese bread.
With the help of her husband and a small team, Ms. Rocha landed her snack in 1,000 stores nationwide, and the company was approaching $1 million in sales thanks to a delicious flavor profile and its naturally gluten-free formulation. But it was an appearance on Shark Tank that skyrocketed Brazi Bites’ growth.
“We were laser-focused on the fact that if you don’t get discovered by a larger audience, you won’t be viable,” she said. “And so Shark Tank was pivotal to this brand. We had been out there, and we knew we had something special; people were responding to our offerings, but not enough people knew about us for the business to be viable.”
On this episode of Since Sliced Bread, Ms. Rocha explains how exposure and timing helped get the snack on the national stage. She shares how Brazi Bites cleared the hurdles to become a successful business in the competitive snack industry.