The cultural heritage of Juan Giraldo and Nicolás Estrella – both born and raised in Quito, the capital of Ecuador – is a crucial part of their startup Wanku, from its very name to the product that it sells.
The two students and longtime friends, whose business just went through the Babson Summer Venture Program, are commercializing a traditional beverage that’s a mixture of 20 natural herbs and three aromatic flowers, known in Ecuador as “the healing water,” from the Andes Mountains region.
“We want to share these Ecuadorian ancestral traditions with the world.”
“[According to] the locals, it soothes the body and helps the digestive system,” co-founder Juan Giraldo said in an interview. “Fifteen of the herbs have analgesic properties, thirteen of them help the digestive system, twelve of them have anti-inflammatory properties and twelve help stomachache.”
The beverage has 11 grams of sugar for each bottle of 15 ounces. Estrella said they’re developing a second version of the formula, which will be unsweetened and available in October.
Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, Giraldo and Estrella have raised over $8,000 out of a goal of $10,000 to bring the first shipment of medicinal herbs from Ecuador to the United States and start the production of the beverage in Boston. As for the supply chain, ingredients are collected and processed in Ecuador and then imported in the States.
The company, which said it hopes that the business will help Ecuadorian farmers make a better living, added that it will likely hit the stores at the end of August. The product should also be available for purchase on the company’s website.
“We want to share these Ecuadorian ancestral traditions with the world,” Giraldo said. “We’re going to start local and small in the Boston area.”
In case you’re still wondering about the meaning of the company’s name, Wanku is a word in Quechua, one of the indigenous languages of South America. It means “together.”