Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carlo Santarelli, co-founder, and CEO of Alokino, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Ciao! I'm a Founder/Entrepreneur/Adventurer in the F&B sector. I founded my first company five years ago in the spirit/gin business in Italy: Gingarby.

Thanks to this first successful company, I had the opportunity to open Alokino Gelato & Co in Los Angeles. Now I'm based in Portugal/Baleal to expand the excellent offer of ALMA (wellness center) towards a 360-degree concept of wellness starting from physical/mental exercise (e.g., Yoga/Pilates/Functional training) to 100% plant-based food: espresso, soy/almond cappuccino, oat vanilla smoothies, cold-pressed juices, choco muffin GF, sweet potato brownie GF/SF, energy ball GF/SF!

Tell us about yourself

After graduating in Engineering, I started working in a green economy fund (mainly managing deals involving GreenEnergy) and then landed in the world of strategy consultancy. During this last period, I developed the first start-up in the alcohol spirits world (Gingarby based in Milan), which convinced me to invest my time more in an entrepreneurial/adventurer career than a managerial/white-collar one. This gave me the push to open a second startup company in the plant-based industry located in Los Angeles. In all this, I am a great lover of art and nature, thanks to the education received from my mother and artist Beatrice Ercoli.

I became passionate about plant-based for environmental reasons considering that seven years ago, while I was surfing in Indonesia, I found a wave of plastic, and I said to myself, "OMG, we are destroying our world, and all this mainly for consumerist and superficial purposes, I CANT' BE PART OF THIS." Plant-based is one of the solutions to the climate crisis (together with the increase in the use of public transport, energy savings in conjunction with the generation of energy from renewable sources, decreased rate of deforestation, and improvement of green buildings) and given that I love food, I love dairy-free GELATO (I don't digest ice cream with dairy products) and I love NATURE… I said to myself, "let's open Alokino Gelato & Co. 100% plant-based, NON-GMO, and Handcrafted."

My everyday motivation is to be part of an entrepreneurial movement that is aware, humble, and in support of humanity and the environment. We have two homes, our bodies, and our land. We need to take care of them.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Alokino Gelato - 2XU Malibu Triathlon

  • Goal: Offset Malibu Triathlon event costs selling Alokino Gelato (5$ per small tub).
  • Challenge: All my competitors offered their products for free (yogurt, shakes, soft drinks).
  • Solution: Realizing that everyone had their hands full of free products (many of which were falling miserably to the ground), and told myself, "Let's help them by distributing our Alokino Gelato paper bags for free." After 2 hours, our brand was everywhere, holding the free gifts of the other brands. That visibility leads people to come to our corner asking for gelato.
  • Conclusion: Be always awake and ready to find smart solutions. Helping others often benefits all. From mutual help, great things can happen.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Being always ON and AWARE. No day-off.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be conscious of your actions.
  2. Be patient.
  3. Create value with the local community.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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