In our first-ever customer interview, we talked with The Coconut Cartel, which sells fresh-as-they-get coconuts in Miami, Florida.
I chatted with young entrepreneur and recent college grad, Danielle Zig, CEO, about her experience starting a coconut business with her brother and building it into a now ten-person company that is expanding across the country. They’ve taken the coconut experience to a whole new level.
Nutshell: What exactly does The Coconut Cartel do?
Danielle: We bring the best tasting coconuts—not bottled coconut water, real coconuts—from El Salvador to the places in Miami, Florida, where you find sunshine and water together (hotels, resorts, poolside bars, and so on).
Nutshell: What’s the story behind The Coconut Cartel?
Danielle: My brother was down in El Salvador with his friend. After a long day of golfing, his friend handed him a coconut that he opened with just a key. My brother was blown away by how easy it was to open, and how amazing it tasted; so much better than the bottled coconut water he’d tried in the past.
He decided to smuggle some of those coconuts back through customs in his suitcase—hence the name "coconut cartel"—and started visiting hotels and resorts around Miami to gauge interest in the coconuts.
The ironic thing about Miami is that it’s this hugely popular tropical getaway spot with water and sun, yet the coconuts native to Miami are below average, with very little juice. So there existed this “coconut gap” in Miami that we were able to step in and fill. We are the “must-have” coconut now, and it’s a fun place to be.
Nutshell: Why sell fresh coconuts when bottled coconut water is so easy to find?
Danielle: A few reasons. One, because of the taste. It’s sweet and crisp and very different from Asian coconuts. Two, the experience of drinking coconut juice directly out of the coconut itself is fun and unique. People love to take pictures or selfies with the coconut; it’s become something fun.
Finally, there are huge health benefits to drinking this coconut juice. It’s raw, untouched coconut water with none of the pasteurization or additives that you’ll find in bottled coconut water. You get the pure benefits of electrolytes and great hydration.
Nutshell: It sounds like selling coconuts has been a booming business. How have you managed your company’s growth?
Danielle: Well, as a small startup, our sales process initially existed scribbled on a whiteboard and in my mind, and it was getting to the point where it was becoming unmanageable. I found myself worrying about dropping the ball on new sales opportunities, and finally came to the point where I needed to find a business tool to help me manage all of the moving pieces.
Nutshell has allowed us to streamline the sales and management process, so we can focus on closing sales and nurturing our existing relationships. I travel a lot, and never have to worry about what’s going on with my team, and what’s happening back in the Miami office. Everyone is clued in and aware of what’s going on within the team.
Nutshell: Aside from reducing stress and making your life a little easier, what do you like about Nutshell?
Danielle: Many things! The design is friendly, simple, and not corporate; we’re a fun, young company, and want our CRM to fit our style and personality. The iPhone app keeps up with me on the go while I’m traveling. I like the dashboard because I can see what everyone in the company is working on in real-time. Overall, it has helped a ton with collaboration amongst the team, no matter where we are.
Nutshell: Where can we find you?
Danielle: Our main base is in Miami, FL. We just expanded to NY, and keep an eye out for us in California soon!Check out some of the great photos of the coconut farm in El Salvador and check out this fun article on the famous side of the coconut business.