Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeff Zelinski, Founder of Baruvida, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is a newly discovered superfood, Baruvida, from remote areas of the amazon basins of South America and introducing it to international markets. The North American consumer is moving more to plant-based protein, healthier choices, and sustainable products. Baruvida is magical and checks all those boxes and more. We have a great-tasting, amazingly healthy snack or food supplement good for all ages, especially those looking for a nut with low fat, high protein in their diet.

Tell us about yourself

My story began with Sports. Playing team sports taught me the team building and leadership qualities I needed to thrive in almost any environment. Football gave me the opportunity to get a scholarship to university and study Geology. Being a Geologist led to me traveling the world for more than ten years, giving me a rich and unique understanding of culture and how the world works. In all the places I went, it was always a motivation to find ways to give back, to create positive change for the people and the planet. 6 months after moving to Bolivia and searching for that positive change, I discovered the Baru tree, which has changed my life forever. Now the motivation is simple; I get to see the amount of impact we make in the lives of the people daily. Additionally, for anyone who has ever felt satisfaction from watching their plants growing from seed, imagine the satisfaction in watching huge, degraded cattle fields return to a beautiful green habitat.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The amount of people we have impacted is the thing I am most proud of. Going into the communities and seeing the smiles on the faces of the locals when they see us, we know we are making real change. There are so few opportunities to create a successful business that gives you that sense of accomplishment, and I'm happy to have found this one.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Our start-up was difficult as we had no long-term sense of direction. The idea and discovery were amazing, but we had to reinvent the wheel to turn it into a product. This is a new superfood that no one even knew how to crack the husk or roast the seed. How long would it stay fresh in raw and cooked form? Building all the systems and working in underdeveloped nations creates opportunity, but it isn't without its challenges. For me personally, those challenges were compounded by doing it in a language I had to learn as well.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Start-up companies are a lot of work; if you haven't done one, you just don't understand. You must be able to adapt, problem-solve, and stay motivated because there is a good chance things aren't going to go as you expect them to. My advice would be to surround yourself with people who complement the skill sets you have and keep you motivated. Be open to adapting to wherever your business idea takes you.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Help support your local small business, especially the ones making positive changes in the world. We live in such a small window, a small opportunity to make a real difference. Think less about ourselves and more about how to make the world a better place. Plant a tree that you might never see grow, but be happy someone else will.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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