What they didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to get into supermarkets. They quickly realized that larger companies control the grocery shelves and have the money to buy and dominate shelf space. “We knocked on thousands of doors, but we couldn’t reach our consumers,” Anthony told me. Once they got into a grocery store, their product would end up on the lowest shelf, going unseen and unpurchased. Anthony knew they couldn’t compete this way.
When the pandemic hit, the Alcazar brothers finally decided to pivot to e-commerce. Mr. Tortilla launched on Amazon in 2020, and today is a multi-million-dollar business and the number one tortilla seller online in the US and Canada. As customers raved about the product, it is generated more and more sales. “The great thing about online retail is that the customer chooses who is number one,” Anthony explains. “If they like the product, it sells.” In the past year, Mr. Tortilla has grown by close to 3,000%. The Alcazar brothers employ adults with special needs, give 10% of their net profits to charity, and share 10% of profits with their employees. “We thank God for this miraculous growth. It wouldn’t have been possible without Amazon’s partnership and the funding the SBA provided.”
This is a story of entrepreneurs who persevered and succeeded, one we should be in the midst of National Small Business Week. But Congress is considering antitrust legislation that will hurt businesses like Mr. Tortilla – and hundreds of thousands more. Particularly, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the American Choice and Innovation Online Act will jeopardize online marketplaces and tools that small businesses rely on, and damage startups’ chances at achieving the dream of the “big exit.” By targeting tech companies like Amazon, Google and Apple – whose tools are used by millions of small businesses for everything from fulfillment and apps to customer access and digital sales training – these bills will really end up punishing the very entrepreneurs the bill claims to help.
The pandemic hurt many small businesses, but those that adapted and leveraged online tools to succeed should not now have to wonder if the marketplace or digital tools they use will be eliminated or more expensive. If congressional action forces US tech companies to raise prices on their services (or start charging for free services), the ripple effect will be devastating.
With record inflation, there is a great deal Congress can focus its time and resources on that will actually lower barriers to entry, lower prices, and benefit small businesses. Hispanic businesses are leading the country toward strong post-pandemic recovery. There are an estimated 450,000 Hispanic employers in this country, and they have nearly 3 million people on their payroll. The vast majority of these are small-to-medium-sized businesses. Every job matters, and every dollar saved counts. Congress should be doing everything it can right now to help small businesses maximize their resources.