After a late-night taco run that ended in taco guilt, Anthony Alcazar and his brother Ronald dreamed of making a guilt-free taco. After lots of trial and error in the kitchen, they created a healthy 1 net carb, 15 calorie tortilla that tastes exactly like the tortillas they grew up with.
What they didn’t anticipate was how difficult it would be to get into supermarkets. They quickly realized that big corporations control grocery store shelves and have the money to buy and dominate shelf space. “We knocked on thousands of doors, but we couldn’t reach our consumers,” Anthony told me. Once they walked into a grocery store, their product would end up on the lowest shelf, unseen and unpurchased. Anthony knew they couldn’t compete that way.
When the pandemic hit, the Alcazar brothers finally decided to turn to e-commerce. Mr. Tortilla launched on Amazon in 2020 and is now a multi-million dollar business and the number one online tortilla seller in the United States and Canada. As customers loved the product, it generated more and more sales. “The advantage of e-commerce is that the customer chooses who is number one,” says Anthony. “If they like the product, it sells.” Over the past year, Mr. Tortilla has grown nearly 3,000%. The Alcazar brothers employ adults with special needs, donate 10% of net profits to charity, and share 10% of profits with their employees. “We thank God for this miraculous growth. This would not have been possible without the partnership of Amazon and the funding provided by the SBA.
It’s the story of entrepreneurs who persevered and succeeded, a story we should celebrate during National Small Business Week. But Congress is considering antitrust legislation that will hurt companies like Mr. Tortilla — and hundreds of thousands of others. In particular, the U.S. Online Choice and Innovation Act and the U.S. Online Choice and Innovation Act will jeopardize the online marketplaces and tools that small businesses rely on, and harm startups’ chances of realizing the “big exit” dream. By targeting tech companies like Amazon, Google and Apple — whose tools are used by millions of small businesses for everything from fulfillment and apps to customer access and digital sales training — these really end up punishing the very entrepreneurs the bill purports to help.
The pandemic has affected many small businesses, but those who have adapted and leveraged online tools to succeed shouldn’t now wonder if the marketplace or the digital tools they use will be phased out or more expensive. If congressional action forces US tech companies to raise prices for their services (or start charging for free services), the ripple effect will be devastating.
A recent survey by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC) found that small business owners overwhelmingly want Congress to stay clear of antitrust regulation and leave tech platforms alone.
With record inflation, Congress can focus its time and resources on many things that will lower barriers to entry, lower prices, and benefit small businesses. Hispanic businesses are leading the country toward a strong post-pandemic recovery. There are approximately 450,000 Hispanic employers in this country, and they have nearly 3 million people on their payroll. The vast majority of them are small and medium enterprises. Every job counts and every dollar saved counts. Congress should be doing all it can right now to help small businesses maximize their resources.
Javier Palomarez is President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Business Council (USHBC), a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization focused on improving access to contracts in the public and private sectors and representation fairness of Hispanics in business, media, and politics.