San Diego's local snack company CHUZA takes a victory lap with a spicy $100,000 top prize from PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator program. CHUZA snagged the win after expanding its reach to a fire-breathing 500 retail locations. Founder Daniel Schwarz's bet on authentic Mexican flavors and a keen entrepreneurial spirit paid off royally, with the company now looking to spice up its market presence even further.
The company's snacks steeped in Mexican culinary traditions have earned the admiration of palates craving authenticity and a touch of heat. "We’re very proud Mexicans living in the U.S., so we are proud of being Mexican but also very grateful to be here," Schwarz said via the San Diego Union-Tribune. The San Diego-based outfit stole the show at the Juntos Crecemos — or Together We Grow—edition of the accelerator, aimed at propelling Hispanic food and beverage startups.
Aside from the cash infusion, CHUZA also savored a six-month mentorship feast with PepsiCo's finest, which proved to be a recipe for expansion and brand seasoning. "It is truly an honor to be selected as the winner of the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator: Juntos Crecemos Edition from such a talented pool of participants," CEO & Founder Daniel Schwarz expressed, capturing the essence of an entrepreneur who sees his startup's growth not just in sales but in brand depth and consumer trust, per the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The CHUZA's zesty dried fruits, which include mangoes and nopal (cactus pads), spiced with 100 percent Mexican seasoning, caught fire nationwide. Original at San Diego Union-Tribune, Schwarz mentioned his company's snacks are something his three young kids can handle every day—including his one-year-old—showcasing that the brand caters to various spice tolerance levels.
The contest wasn't all about the heat in the kitchen, though. CHUZA demonstrated an "entrepreneurial mindset at PepsiCo as we develop food and beverage solutions that deliver on flavor, function, health, convenience, and sustainability," according to Antonio Escalona through the San Diego Union-Tribune, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Hispanic Business Unit at PepsiCo Foods North America.