Tito shares entrepreneurial advice to Greenwood students

Local food cart vendor tells students to stick to their dreams

BRATTLEBORO — Tito Garza started out with a cooler full of taco makings.

He keeps that cooler in his new cart at what is now called Tito's Taqueria, located at the Mobile gas station on Putney Road. It serves as a reminder of how he got his following over the last year or so.

No topic was off limits on Wednesday when Garza spoke to students from The Greenwood School's class on entrepreneurship.

"When I lost my name Tito's Tacos, I was super bummed and I was really attached to that," Garza said, referring to a cease-and-desist letter he received that made him change the name of the business due to trademark legalities. "But I had to let go of that."

He also had to leave his initial spot on Western Avenue due to time limits established by the town on using the space near the farmers market.

"So all this stuff was not going according to plan but I just kept at it," he said. "And a store, Avenue Grocery, said I could sell it from them."

That move brought him further down Western Avenue, closer to the downtown. Now, Garza's neighbor on Putney Road is Taste of Thai.

Garza told students of the Putney-based school to stick to their dreams.

"You're going to fail," he said. "That's how I learn and that's how I do better."

He suggested saving as much money as possible and paying in cash whenever possible. He also recommended asking for help when it is needed.

He raised about $2,300 through crowfunding on GoFundMe.com for the mobile taco cart, which he can bring to other

venues in the summer. He also received money from a fundraiser held by the radio station WTSA.

With the new rig, Garza said he quadrupled his sales. He also started working on his brand.

Garza said he has not spent any money on advertising. Instead, he uses social media — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — to build his business. Sometimes, he will barter using tacos as payment.

Aaron Dall, science teacher and entrepreneurial program director at Greenwood, said the students have traveled all over Vermont exploring what it means to be an entrepreneur. They spoke with the previous CEO of Party City in Burlington, child-care operators, nonprofit directors, and restaurant and shop owners. The class is offered as an after-school activity.

Dall called Garza "a perfect, textbook example of an entrepreneur."

"He started his business on the side of the road in Brattleboro selling tacos out of a cooler," Dall said. "Now, he's become quite successful."

Eleventh-grader Thomas Cook said students in the class will write their own proposals for a unique business idea. His is a children's museum.

"But it's more creative and imaginary," he said. "I feel like there should be more space for kids to be creative. I don't think there's enough of that so that's what I want to provide."

Inspired by stories of rappers finding success, eighth-grader Rafi Zeifman is drafting a plan for a talent agency for homeless people. They would receive salaries from gigs and performances, and not have to pay the agency.

Ninth-grader Will Pena said his proposal is for an aerospace company that would make travel "more efficient and streamlined." He once co-piloted a plane.

Asked about the takeaway from the visit to Tito's, students cited Garza's attitude around never giving up.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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