‘Same entrepreneurial mindset’: Mexican-inspired snack startup nabs top spot of PepsiCo’s first-ever Juntos Crecemos incubator

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Daniel Schwarz, founder and CEO of Chuza, has bagged $100k from PepsiCo's Juntos Crecemos incubator to grow the business. Pic: PepsiCo
Daniel Schwarz, founder and CEO of Chuza, has bagged $100k from PepsiCo's Juntos Crecemos incubator to grow the business. Pic: PepsiCo

Related tags PepsiCo Frito-Lay Greenhouse Accelerator Programme Hispanic and latino americans Chuza startup Mexican cuisine Snacks Juntos Crecemos

Chuza was announced the grand prize winner of the inaugural edition of PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator focused on supporting emerging Hispanic businesses.

Although sharing the same entrepreneurial mindset as PepsiCo - “in developing treats that deliver on flavour, function, health, convenience and sustainability” - it was “Chuza’s focus and commitment to elevating the snack segment”​ that really stood out during the mentorship programme.

The San Diego-based startup had joined nine other finalists​ on PepsiCo’s eighth annual Greenhouse Accelerator, and the first-ever Juntos Crecemos (Together We Grow) edition.​ What followed was an intensive six-month programme of mentorship by PepsiCo execs and a competitive judging process. The finalists each received a $20,000 grant and personalised coaching from the snacking giant’s R&D, supply chain and design experts, among others, to learn how to optimise their unique business challenges.

“Selecting a winner was no easy task for the panel of judges because all 10 finalists showcased strong advancements in their businesses over this six-month journey in the areas of brand development, product optimisation, scaling technology, business model development, go-to-market strategy and more,”​ said Antonio Escalona, senior CVP and general manager of Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Foods North America.

But it was Chuza’s entrepreneurial mindset and commitment “demonstrated throughout the entire process”​ that ultimately bagged it the $100,00 grand prize and other resources to scale operations.

Adding flair to the snacks category

Danny Chuza

Founded by CEO Daniel Schwarz, Chuza aims to elevate the world of snacks through an assortment of spicy fruit and vegetable treats infused with 100% Mexican spices and, of course, no artificial flavours or colours. The judging committee was impressed by the startup’s ability to showcase a strong collaboration with PepsiCo, along with its commitment to drive velocity growth, having recently expanded distribution to over 500 retail locations.

Chuza means to 'achieve something great' (literally, to hit a strike). It has inspired us to pursue our dream of bringing Mexico’s flavours into your home and sharing our culture of happiness, family and fiesta - Daniel Schwarz

“It is truly an honour to be selected as the winner of the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator: Juntos Crecemos Edition from such a talented pool of participants,”​ said Schwarz.

“Over the past six months, my business has experienced substantial expansion and efficiency, all thanks to the invaluable guidance and support provided by the PepsiCo mentors.

“Consumers crave authenticity and diverse snack flavours, so with the $100,000 grant, we plan to expand brand and marketing development to raise awareness of my products and continue sharing our flavours, culture and flair with the world.”


The winner was announced during a ceremony at PepsiCo headquarters in New York to celebrate the journey of all 10 finalists and their business improvements and thank the PepsiCo mentors who lent their business expertise to advance small, Hispanic-owned food and beverage companies.

“In this year's PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator: Juntos Crecemos Edition, we have witnessed 10 exceptionally skilled Hispanic-owned businesses take innovation to the next level with PepsiCo’s mentorship and business resources,”​ said Esperanza Teasdale, VP and general manager of Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Beverages North America.

“We congratulate Chuza, as well as all of the participants who demonstrated true leadership in advancing the future of the food and beverage industry.”

Since expanding to North America in 2018, the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator has evolved to assist innovators in addressing consumer needs, however, its fundamental goal remains the same: to foster the growth of entrepreneurs.

Through its partnership with Juntos Crecemos - a multifaceted platform designed to provide critical resources to Hispanic-owned small businesses - the Accelerator expanded its support to a different entrepreneurial segment. It all aligns with the company’s pep+ principle, which puts sustainability and human capital at the centre of its value proposition.

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