From Idea to Sales to Scaling

Alexandre Messina and Vinicus da Justa met at the Pontífica Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). Both had planned for corporate and finance careers – like their fathers – but they found themselves yearning for careers with more meaning.

At a party, Alexandre shared a business idea with Vini over beers.

  Left to Right: Vinicius da Justa and Alexandre Messina | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Left to Right: Vinicius da Justa and Alexandre Messina | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

They launched Pedala three months later.

Pedala is a social enterprise that trains and employs bike messengers in Rio de Janeiro. The people they hire are often overlooked by employers, whether it it because of their limited education or employment experience or other forms of discrimination. This social enterprise offers e-commerce deliveries while also avoiding contributing to the pollution of its city.

  Pedala bike messengers deliver packages across Rio de Janeiro | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Pedala bike messengers deliver packages across Rio de Janeiro | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

When we started Pedala, we thought that everything would be perfect and that this would be easy.
— Alexandre
  Vinicius da Justa | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Vinicius da Justa | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Alexandre and Vini quickly realized they didn’t have all the right skills to run a company. They had no real-world experience as entrepreneurs when they started Pedala and soon found themselves overwhelmed by the challenges of running a social enterprise.

  Alexandre at the Pedala office. | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Alexandre at the Pedala office. | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

No one teaches you to open your own company at a university. They teach you how to work for someone else. I didn’t know anything about starting my own company and paying taxes, for example. Each day I’m learning something new.
— Vinicius

A good idea and passion aren’t enough to make a social enterprise successful.

They realized they needed new team members, advisors and mentorship to grow their business and make it a long-term success.

Working with NESsT, Alexandre and Vini have focused on how to develop a growth strategy, expand to new locations, and measure impact. Beyond working with Renata Truzzi, NESsT portfolio director in Brazil, they’ve gained access to advisors that can support them with developing their business strategy, marketing and HR to make their business a long-term success.

  Left to Right: Vinicius and Alexandre in a meeting with Renata Truzzi, NESsT portfolio director in Brazil. | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Left to Right: Vinicius and Alexandre in a meeting with Renata Truzzi, NESsT portfolio director in Brazil. | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Entrepreneurs need business advisory services and access to mentors to build specialized skills that usually only come from experience and not through higher-education degrees from years past.

  Alexandre Messina. | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Alexandre Messina. | Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Over time, we’ve embraced the lean startup way of thinking. Let’s try something at a small scale, test it, and if it’s good then we grow it to a bigger scale.
— Alexandre

In 2017, the enterprise conducted a market analysis that revealed that the delivery of e-commerce goods is more lucrative than that of documents and food (Pedala’s two main services at the time). As a result, Pedala focused on building a strong database of e-commerce clients and assessing whether this strategy would be sufficient to propel the company to the next level. So far it has, and Pedala is transitioning its services to become the go-to, e-commerce delivery company in Brazil.

For Pedala to hire more bicycle couriers and grow its impact, the entrepreneurs also realized that they needed to expand to new locations to reach a greater volume of clients, while also keeping prices competitive.

NESsT’s investment in two new offices, a larger headquarters in Botafogo and a new location in Barra de Tijuca, alongside the business mentoring has helped consolidate the company’s methods, operations and systems, as well as to prove its expansion model.

  Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Bruno Fujii for NESsT

Opening the new office in Barra de Tijuca is the enterprise’s first expansion experience and will serve  as the model for planning their expansion to other neighborhoods and cities.

Supporting organizations like NESsT gives social entrepreneurs access to the support they need to grow their businesses and help even more people gain employment and professional skills that give them hope for better futures.