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Technology & Entrepreneurship

San Antonio's Culinary Community Comes Out For Newest Batch Of Startups

Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio
Selena Davila hands out samples of Quick Sip Coffee

Inside a noisy Brick at Blue Star, 11 food company startups give samples of their wares from salsa to vegan baked goods as part of LaunchSA’s “Break, Fast and Launch.”  The small business center program for culinary startups, offers mentorship, operating space and advice for budding food entrepreneurs.  

Rows of tables line the performance space with companies. A DJ plays music. 

“We have two different coffees,” said Selena Davila, co-founder of Quick Sip cold brew coffee. “Our Texican is going to have notes of nut and cinnamon and our Native has notes of berries and chocolate,” she said waiting for this reporter to choose one to sample. 

Davila co-founded the startup with her boyfriend Jacob Hurrell-Zitelman when they were teenagers. The company produces and bottles cold brew coffee in brown bottles, that look a lot like beer bottles.

“My boyfriend and I actually started this company when he was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. And I would actually sell these beer bottles out of my backpack in my high school, which looking back now was a terrible idea,” she said.

Davila, now 20, has moved back the questionable sales tactic. She and Hurrell-Zitelman are both at Trinity University. The two won the University’s $25,000 Stumberg Venture Competition for the enterprise last year. 

Quick Sip is one of 14 startups graduating from the 10-week food entrepreneurship program called Break, Fast and Launch.

Davila says the program helped them navigate the industry.

“We got to meet a lot of great people with a lot of great expertise. In the food world you can feel like you are all alone,” she said.

Credit Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio
Ryan Salts is director of LaunchSA, the small business center.

LaunchSA director Ryan Salts said they started the program because so many people walking in wanted to start food companies and he had no one to refer them to. 

“In food there are so many routes you can go,” Salts said. “Today You may be a restaurant but tomorrow you may have a food truck on the corner. And you may realize your customers want to buy your salsa, so how do you take that into a product format?”

Since launching in 2015, the program offering mentorship, networking opportunities, operating space and advice has helped 140 startups. Many from those past startups drop into the event, to survey the companies and, of course, to eat. 

Credit Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio

Michael Grimes and Elisa Treviño entered Break, Fast and Launch believing they would be going to market with a bottled barbeque sauce only to discover through the program that the market was too crowded. 

“So we pivoted, a year and a half into our business and found this niche market that speaks to a passion of ours,” Treviño said.

The two started The Beignet Stand with a spot at the Pearl farmers market and now have a food truck and catering business. They attended the evening’s event to support LaunchSA and the culinary community.

“I’ve been exposed to mentors who have showed me what they have learned,” said Grimes. “And in return they expect the same thing [of us]. To find those who are coming after them, take them under your wing, mentor them and give back to the community.”

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive