It all started in 1992 with a supposedly perfect plan: two high school friends decided to open their own fast food business in the street attracting passers-by with the delicious odor of their hot dogs and burgers. With their wagon set up at a large national trade show, amassing a fortune seemed just a question of time to Emprendimientos Fast S.A. However, things took an unexpected turn: in two weeks, they sold just one hot dog.
Still believing in their idea, Emprendimientos Fast S.A. decided to start over, this time setting up their wagon on a vacant lot in the busy Mariscal López avenue. Helped by a municipal ordinance prohibiting fast food stalls in the street (but not on vacant lots), the wagon started attracting more and more customers. The foundation for a flourishing business had been laid.
Pancholo's: a combination of the Paraguayan "pancho" and "lomito" sandwiches (Photo: Pancholo's)
A decisive element making their second move into the fast food business successful was branding: Emprendimientos Fast S.A. decided to call their business “Pancholo’s”. Customers started associating “Pancholo’s” with quality products, which accelerated the growth of the business: soon, the fast-food wagon became too small to respond to increasing customer demand and was replaced by the first “Pancholo’s” restaurant.
In 1997, while defining their expansion strategy including the opening of the first subsidiary, Emprendimientos Fast S.A. realized that registering their trademark had become necessary for two reasons: the level of distinctiveness that the trademark had achieved in the minds of consumers, and, the possibility of third parties using it in bad faith.
Thus, “Pancholo’s” became a trademark for the first time. Subsequently, the company continued the same policy of protection of intellectual property (IP) rights and had other trademarks registered for goods and services provided in connection with the original one, including “Pizzolos”, “Pastolos”, “Lomitolos” and “Autocholos”.
The Green Parrot was chosen because Paraguayans call their parrots "Pancho" (Photo: Pancholo's)
The opening of the first “Pancholo’s” subsidiary in 1997 marked the start of rapid growth: today, ten “Pancholo’s” restaurants with almost 150 employees can be found all around Asunción. Under more than five trademarks, “Pancholo’s” sells hot dogs, hamburgers, steak sandwiches, fries, pizzas, pasta and ice cream. It also has a domain name of its own and its own website (http://www.pancholos.com).
As part of its growth plan, “Pancholo’s” makes use of electronic commerce as a means of selling its products: orders can be placed on their website (or by telephone) for home delivery, which has greatly increased the company’s revenue. Thanks to consumer awareness of the “Pancholo’s” brand, timely domain name registration and setting up of a website, any consumer can enter “Pancholo’s” in a search engine, find its page and place an order.
The latest product Emprendimientos Fast S.A have launched are deep-frozen pizzas customers can pick up at their restaurants. Furthermore, they are working on a franchising plan with a view to expanding and breaking into new markets. That will enable them to accumulate additional resources using the company’s intangible assets, including its trademarks, business secrets and software, the latter being protected by copyright.
Thanks to trademark registration, Emprendimientos Fast S.A successfully avoided the problem of competitors taking advantage of their efforts, says its manager. Ownership of IP rights has been a matter of policy since 1997, and has acquired more and more importance as the business expanded and the trademark became more famous.