Rodrigo Herrera biography

Rodrigo Herrera

I can say that the digital era was what triggered my motivation for business at age 11. Video games were my passion and at that time they only existed in specific venues where you could basically go to play "pong". I had my weekly allowance, but my passion for this new way of playing was so intense, that my money vanished in a few hours, if not minutes; hence my need to produce money ... My reasoning was simple, more money, more hours of video games, more satisfaction.

One day my dad, a man who started from scratch washing cars at five years old in Tepito (a very rough neighborhood in Mexico City) and became, with a lot of effort, a Civil Engineer and amassed quite a fortune, came back from Las Vegas - I'm talking about the early 80's - and He told me: "I just threw my money in an irresponsible way betting and it will not happen anymore, so I have decided to invest in an agricultural business in Mexico because it is abandoned and requires a lot of ingenuity." And so he began to innovate with hydroponic greenhouses planting tomatoes. I remember we went to Querétaro and one day I asked for two boxes of tomatoes to sell them (and thus have more money for video games). He replied: "I will not give them to you for free, but I will give you credit, you can pay me once you’ve sold them." At that time I began to fully comprehend the concept of profit margins, I would get to keep only the difference between the sale price and the purchase price (very logical concept, but if you analyze it many times people fail to understand it, even when they are adults).

I joined several of my friends and we would stand in the corner of the street where I lived with the tomato stand. You have to remember that it was the 80s and it was not a common scene. We approached the cars where we saw ladies driving (our target) and we talked to them about the advantages of the hydroponic tomatoes (USP or Differentiator) and the tomatoes were easily sold when we gave them 2 kilos for the price of 1 (Call to action). We continue selling the tomatoes all summer, from Monday to Sunday, and my friends and I felt very fulfilled.

This is how I started selling and making money for the first time in my life. At age 17, I wanted to start working formally while I continued studying. Then I had the opportunity to work at a small hardware store that was broke and I noticed that the main cause was that their sales were very low. But I saw the flow of people in the street of Lopez in downtown Mexico City and I felt confident that I could help them sell more. My reasoning was that if in a street with little circulation at age 11 I sold boxes and boxes of tomatoes, it would be much easier here.

Now I had a formal business, my schedule included going to school every day from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., then go to the hardware store to man the counter until 8 p.m, balance the books and review the inventories until 10 p.m. And start again the next day. On Saturdays my schedule was from 10 in the morning to 8 at night. A new challenge arose when I came to the part of accounting and legal aspects, things I had not yet learned. I noticed the books needed a lot of work, there were poorly checked expenses, purchases without the appropriate tax requirements and by wanting to prove to everyone that I could do it alone (serious mistake of many entrepreneurs) I did not ask for help from my dad or anyone. It almost cost me the business, but I recovered it and at the age of 18 I managed to set up a second hardware store.

When I was 20 years old, while still studying at the University and working with very good results, my father asked me to go to work in one of his businesses where bathroom furniture was manufactured and start an expansion stage.

However, it was during the crisis and the Peso devaluation of 1994 when the loans that had been contracted to finance the growth of the family business became a serious problem of operation. I remember that the interest rates went sky high just like the exchange rate. We lived through a 100% devaluation when the dollar's parity against the peso went from 3 to 6 pesos and the 28 days government bonds reached levels of 31% interest. The so-called "December mistake" was very costly for my dad's business.

I was 23 years old the first time I saw an infomercial and, taking into account the experience I already had in sales, I thought the scheme of selling through television was very promising. I liked the idea and thought that medicines and cosmetics were products in great demand. I contacted a group of doctors and my first skin product was born. I realized, however, that in the business I had to include other areas because I could not stand in front of a computer waiting for someone to call and that's how Genomma Lab was born.

I started with the brand that today is Asepxia. By the year 2000, we already had 10 brands in the segments of OTC medicines and personal care, with sales through a call center and later in points of sale. In 2004 we started international operations in Peru, expanding over time to 14 countries.

In June 2008, we were able to place for the first time in the history of Mexico, a fully Mexican laboratory/pharmaceutical as a public company with operations in 20 countries.

In 2010 we started selling Genomma Lab products in the United States. Today our brands are sold in supermarkets for the entire American population. Also in 2010 I was recognized as the Entrepreneur Of The Year by EY México.

I currently chair the Board of Directors of Genomma Lab and participate in Shark Tank, with the mission of supporting the greatest number of entrepreneurs in all possible ways.