With over 250,000 users, 1.5 million page views per month, and a structure that is 100% social, Kiwi Limón has established itself as the market leader in online recipes in Mexico. But the site wants to enter the U.S. Hispanic market and other Latin American markets. As the company prepares to launch its new online grocery shopping system in conjunction with Superama (Wal-Mart), we interviewed co-founder Deborah Dana. Following is an edited version of our interview:
Portada: How did Kiwi Limón get its start?
Deborah Dana: In the summer of 2009, I wanted to launch a project for a website for housewives. This idea came about during my work in marketing at Procter & Gamble, where I had seen the need for sites aimed at this target in Mexico and found there weren’t any. I invited my partner, Lorenza Ávila, to join the project and we decided as a team to focus on recipes and create a site with user-generated content. This is how we decided to launch kiwilimon.com.
P: How does Kiwi Limón differ from other online recipe sites?
DD: In several ways—the first is the one I previously mentioned, in that our content is user-generated and supported by professional editors who create seasonal content, newsletters, etc. But the basis of the site is 100% social. The second way we’re different is in the tools and partnerships we’ve developed based on our users’ needs. Today on Kiwi Limón you can save your recipes in your own virtual recipe folder, plan menus and order your grocery list items online thanks to our new partnership with Superama.com.
P: Tell us about Kiwi Limón’s operation. How many employees do you have? Where are your offices located?
DD: Our offices are located in Bosques de las Lomas, Mexico City. We currently have seven employees. This year, we managed to close our private capital funding, which will allows us to increase our staff to 17 in the coming months.
P: What is Kiwi Limón’s business model? How do you generate revenue?
DD: We currently have three business models: Advertising, White Label Websites and Affiliate Programs. Advertising is our main source of income and consists of selling advertising space on the site. We sell everything from traditional formats such as banners, to section sponsorships and product placements in recipes and videos. White Label Websites was launched with Wal-Mart through Recetas-Superama.com.mx powered by Kiwilimon. For this model, we developed an ad hoc site tailored to Wal-Mart’s needs using our recipes and community. Finally, our Affiliate model was also launched in conjunction with Wal-Mart and works as follows: Kiwilimon sends the user’s grocery list to the Superama.com.mx site, which then delivers to the user’s home the ingredients needed to make the recipe or recipes that the user added to their list.
P: What are your stats to date? What do you offer your advertisers?
DD: To date we have 250,000 unique visitors and 1.5 million page views. Ours is a niche site that has been able to reach a very specific target—90% of our users are female and 50% of them are mothers. We offer our advertisers the perfect place to connect with these women, who are the main decision-makers for all household purchases, and we offer non-traditional tools to do so.
P: What markets are you interested in? In what countries do you have the strongest presence? What new markets are you looking for?
DD: Right now we are focused on growing in Mexico and positioning ourselves as #1, and then expand to the U.S. Hispanic market and the most important countries in Latin America.
P: Are you interested in the U.S. Hispanic market? How many visits do you get from that country?
DD: Yes, after Mexico that is the market we are most interested in. Only 5,000 of our monthly visits are from the U.S. now and we have not done any marketing efforts for that country.
P: What marketing strategies do you use to gain exposure? If you use advertising, how much do you invest and in what media?
DD: We use organic growth, through recommendations and digital media (Adwords, SEO, social media). We also employ a PR strategy to get us known.
P: Where do you see Kiwi Limón in the future? What are your projections for the next few years?
DD: We see Kiwi Limón as the connection to the Spanish-speaking housewife. Our goal is to become the leader of the Mexico food segment next year and then expand our business lines.
P: What upcoming launches can we expect from you?
DD: The Recetas-Superama.com.mx site will be launched in a week, as well as the grocery shopping list tool via the Kiwi Limón supermarket. During the next few months we will also be launching new editorial sections on our portal featuring chefs, as well as many other new initiatives.
Deborah Dana studied Marketing at Tec de Monterrey and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Dana was previously Director of Marketing at Interlingua and is co-founder of Kiwi Limón.