When Argentinian former banker Lorena Cantarovici arrived in the United States, she had $300 and opened her first location of Maria Empanada with $4000 in loans.
“It was super challenging. That door didn’t open enough for me to survive. Maria Empanada almost died two years in,” she said. “But something told me I was going in the right direction.”
Her customers were coming back, even though there weren’t many of them, and buying a lot of empanadas.
“The versatility of the product was adaptable to the United States,” she said.
Customers would buy over a dozen and bring them back home to the freezer.
Despite this, Cantarovici was told she “wasn’t bankable” when trying to get a loan. She got funding through the Colorado Enterprise Fund, after which she was able to move to a bigger location on Broadway Ave in Denver.
“That’s when I learned location, location, location is everything,” she said. Then she got a bank loan for her second unit.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Lorena Cantarovici, founder of Maria Empanada, describe the highs and lows of operating a small business.