Business finds international success in providing fresh food alternatives
Yo Mama’s Foods of Pinellas County
In 2017, David Habib noticed he was experiencing heartburn and other negative effects from some of the foods he was consuming. Because of this, he wanted to make a change in his diet, and realized that there was a major lack of healthy options when it came to pasta sauces, salad dressings, and condiments that were made from natural and fresh ingredients.
In combination with his desire to eat better food with better ingredients, his inspiration from his mother and grandmother led him to want to be the change for others. That’s when he created Yo Mama’s Foods.
“I chose to launch this type of business because I was inspired by my own mom and grandma, and how they brought people around the table through other cultures,” Habib said. “We noticed there was such a gap in the marketplace for clean, healthy items. Our inspiration is that no one makes better food than your own mama, so there’s no preservatives, added sugars, or sodium. We just found a good opportunity to clean it up and make it better.”
Wanting to grow his business internationally, Habib connected with Enterprise Florida and the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida in March 2021, for export marketing plan services. The export marketing plan, delivered by business consultant Pablo Arroyo, helped to identify top potential markets for Yo Mama’s Foods to expand into.
“This was a really important project as our company was looking to ultimately drive sales internationally,” Habib said. “So, we worked with the Florida SBDC at USF and it was a wonderful experience that helped us understand the different cultures and opportunities overseas to ultimately sell our items.”
Unlike many other businesses, the effects of COVID-19 had a positive impact on Yo Mama’s Foods.
“More and more customers were cooking from home, and they were looking at the ingredients that they were ultimately putting into their homes and bodies,” Habib said. “It really helped to launch our growth. We were also set up well online pre-COVID, so more customers have been purchasing food items online, which has helped grow the business.”
The onset of COVID-19 also led Habib to engage the Florida SBDC at USF for its organizational development services. The company participated in a DISC Turbo Charge analysis that identifies how the team would best work together in the new remote environment brought on by the pandemic.
Since beginning his partnership with the Center, Habib is pleased to see how much his business has grown in various areas.
“Since working with a Florida SBDC at USF, we have built a great distributor relationship in Mexico and we started exporting to Mexico by the truckload,” he said. “We also worked with them on a marketing audit for the website which was very helpful for the search engine optimization to make sure that we are targeting and reaching the right customers. We did management assessments with the management team here, which was a wonderful exercise to help us understand the different work personalities and how we can work better together.”
The business has grown in employees and international sales. Habib is excited for what’s to come for his business, and he looks forward to continuing to use the resources at the Florida SBDC at USF as the business continues to grow and prosper.
“As we grow our business, we plan to partner with the SBDC at USF again,” he said. “For specific projects, we want to look at opportunities of additional revenue streams for our business and untapped markets. We think there’s great opportunity to work with them again. I would highly recommend it for any business that’s looking to grow domestically or internationally. I would also say that there’s tremendous resources that can help make managers more effective. The Florida SBDC at USF is a phenomenal resource.”