After Pasteis won the closing event of the Startup Launchclass, we wanted to know a bit more about the student startup that has brought ‘Portugal’s sweetest secret’ into several Dutch coffeehouses. I spoke with Pablo Theeuwes (24), student of International Business Studies at the HvA, and founder of Pasteis. Location: Coffee Company Javaplein, one of the coffee stores selling the startup’s pastries.
A sweet pastry from Portugal
Starting the week in a coffee store having my very first Pasteis de Natá was not a bad experience. Tasting the crunchy puff pastry containing a sweet vanilla-cinnamon flavored pudding, I could understand why people love this pastry. But what is Theeuwes’ story behind this sweet Portuguese delicacy? Theeuwes: “I have been visiting Portugal for over 10 years, and I always see the little pastries on every street there. They are very famous in Portugal, comparable to stroopwafels in the Netherlands. During my Minor Entrepreneurship at the UvA, I came to the idea of bringing these authentic Portuguese pastries to Holland.”
One part of the Minor program is to do market research in order to find out if there is demand for your product. Theeuwes and two fellow students discovered that the sweets assortment in many coffeehouses was really boring and outdated. All places seemed to have the same assortment for years: brownies, apple pies, muffins. Talking with the owners of those places, they found out that they were interested in expanding their assortment, but they did not have many options available to do this. This is how Pasteis’ first customers were born: Coffee Company, Doppio Espresso VU, and Caffè Belmundo.
Although the concept of Pasteis sounds like a piece of cake, the student entrepreneurs had to work hard to get the pastries into the coffee houses. Fortunately the coaches at Strategiemakers and ING offered the right help to set up the business. Theeuwes: “The Launchpad Meetups were really useful. The ING coaches are experienced entrepreneurs, and extremely talented when it comes to planning and organizing. They taught us how to make a step by step planning. For a startup, this is of utmost importance.”
Why Pasteis is unique
A Portuguese Pasteis de Náta may be a delicious appetite, but what is so special and secret about the concept? Theeuwes explains that it is not just the pastry, but also the way the startup works: “Our uniqueness lies in the local involvement with people that know the product thoroughly. The product we offer is the result of a comparison of Pasteis de Natá from 50 different bakeries in Portugal, tested by Portuguese locals. This way, we are able to offer the highest quality standards.”
What can we expect from Pasteis in the future? Theeuwes has big plans: “Our dream is to be responsible for the entire sweets assortment of coffee stores. The Pasteis de Náta is only the first product, but our next step is to introduce ‘the sweetest secret’ of other countries as well, such as Morocco, Russia and China.” Theeuwes is optimistic about the international cooperation: “As a team we already have a big international network, some of us have double nationalities, and together we speak eight languages!”