Meet Maria Liliana Biondo.
Gelato Chef & COO at uGOgelato.
"Stay connected and keep looking for opportunities...Do not give up!"
uGoGelato is an artisanal Gelato shop located in Over-The-Rhine.
Q: What makes Cincinnati a great place to start a business?
A: Affordable real state, downtown facilities: Public Library, Connector, museums, breweries, sports teams, and several outdoor activities like canoeing on the Little Miami, bike trail, and the Cincinnati Zoo. There’s certainly something for everyone here.
I consider it is the right place for young professionals enthusiastic to work in the startup space since Cincinnati is a medium-size city, and OTR is exactly where any founder would want to live.
Finally, a community of investors, entrepreneurs, creatives, and more. Cincinnati’s resources, including startup accelerators, incubators, angel groups, investors, and university programs, support entrepreneurs in the process of starting a business.
Q: How did a grant from Main Street Ventures impact you and your business?
A: MSV grant will allow us to trigger the second phase of our business plan, to expand the products offer, hire more employees, directly impacting in increasing sales average ticket, having higher revenue, that will guarantee long-term viability for uGOgelato.
Q: What’s one piece of advice would you give a young entrepreneur in Greater Cincinnati?
A: Stay connected and keep looking for opportunities, there are many. Do not give up!
Q: What is a lesson you've learned that has shaped your work?
A: 1) "A failure is an option", and
2)"Be kind to yourself": We opened uGOgelato in Miami for one (1) year, and we had incredible feedback from customers. However, financially it did not go so well for us. We had to make the difficult decision to close the store. It was a difficult moment on a personal level and as a couple. I wondered what I had done wrong if I had given everything for the project until I understood that not everything depended on me. I learned not to judge myself so strongly. Closing the gelato shop involved a large emotional and financial cost. I experienced a grieving process. Later on, I understood that, at that time, it was the best that it could do with what I had. My entrepreneurial spirit never stopped. I was in constant searching to see how to relaunch my project, my passion, and now here we are, in Cincy!
Q: What's next for uGOgelato?
A: Create an extraordinary team to keep growing the business together!