Brewing Dreams: MBA Students Work With Local Entrepreneur to Launch Coffee Stand

Brewing Dreams: MBA Students Work With Local Entrepreneur to Launch Coffee Stand

Nélida García, owner and founder of Xula Mexican CoffeeNélida García, owner and founder of Xula Mexican Coffee

It takes a village — or one entrepreneur, one local organization, a USD center, a few USD professors and several MBA students to be exact. What started out as a dream to become an entrepreneur and be her own boss is becoming a reality for Nélida García.

After three semesters building her business in our Mentorship Program — a partnership between the USD Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness, and Social Action; USD School of Business; and Access — García launched Xula Mexican Coffee in March.

García is a native of Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico. Her love and passion for artisan coffee, muffins, and chocolate sparked the desire to create a brand that represents and embodies Mexican culture and flavors, and so Xula Mexican Coffee was born. García took her business idea to Access and joined their Microenterprise Program just over two years ago to get assistance in putting together her business plan. The program offers the immigrant community in San Diego resources and support to develop a small business.

After completing the first class, García joined USD’s Mentorship Program, where participants in Access’s Microenterprise Program work with our MBA students to take steps towards launching their business — from learning how to use Excel and Quickbooks to setting up social media accounts, understanding inventory and supply, and more. 

Now selling her Mexican coffee drinks and home-baked muffins at farmer’s markets in North Park and the Gaslamp downtown, García has overcome more than a few hurdles to get where she is, not to mention that English is her second language. 

Back when Xula Mexican Coffee was just an idea, García attended a coffee expo in Mexico City to explore the coffees that Mexico has to offer. She chose five to sample and immediately fell in love with one from Veracruz. Once she was on the path to starting her business, she instead chose a different coffee vendor as a supplier because they offered the convenience of delivering the product directly to the United States. Unfortunately, this supplier fell through, almost leaving García out of $1,000, so she ultimately ended up selling coffee from her original choice, the coffee vendor from Veracruz.

“I’m so glad that happened because I got to meet the seller I work with now and all the people that work with him. We went to the finca where the coffee grows and it was very nice. Now I sell coffee I like and am confident I work with a good coffee supplier.” 

García credited our MBA students with helping her make strides towards launching her business. Her official business plan was a culmination of efforts from herself, Access, Kenneth Madsen (MBA, MS in Finance ‘18) and Will Scott (MBA, MS in Finance ‘19), among others. The business plan was essential in applying for and successfully receiving a $2,000 grant, which was used to purchase supplies needed to get started selling her coffee at farmer’s markets.  

In the three semesters that García participated in our Mentorship Program, she remembers Madsen as being an especially helpful and dedicated student. “The special one is Kenneth. No questions. He did help me a lot, a lot, a lot ... pricing my muffins, doing the business plan,” she shared.

Madsen was an international student from Norway who joined our dual MBA/MSF program with many years of professional business experience under his belt. By the time he graduated, he had spent over 300 hours volunteering with Access and several of their program’s Microenterprise entrepreneurs, like García, well above and beyond the minimum volunteer hours required of our MBA students. 

“Nelida's business was always going to be successful. She had the necessary drive and passion, she had support from her son and her dad, she connected with one of my former clients, a professional photographer, to take her business pictures, but she needed someone to hold her hand and tell her it was going to work out. For five months, I did that every week. I built the business model in a spreadsheet, including every recipe and every ingredient. I showed her that her products were too costly to make and helped source cheaper ingredients in bulk to make the products profitable. I did nothing she wouldn't be able to figure out herself, but my main role was holding her hand through the process,” said Madsen of his experience in the Mentorship Program working with García.

Business started slowly for García, as it does for most new small businesses. “At the beginning in North Park, it was slow. But it’s getting better. Now, people know us and they come to get the special drink they like,” said García. She recommends trying their special Mazapán Latte, an iced beverage featuring espresso infused with mazapán, a candy similar to marzipan but made with peanuts.  

Having set up two successful farmer’s market stands, García now looks to the future and selling coffee from various regions of Mexico, including Oaxaca and beyond. With her son by her side making drinks and handling the marketing, she aims to “move on and go bigger.” Her goal is to have a mobile coffee cart and eventually a permanent location.

As she looks back to her time working with our MBA students, García recalls, “Some of the students, they were surprised because, wow, it’s a lot of things to do to start. Even as a small business, it is incredible how many things you have to do. I think the most exciting thing is [the students] being proud of my journey. They see, 'oh I did help a bit with this and that and now she’s doing her business.'”

Xula Mexican Coffee


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658