In childhood, the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” makes children travel into the future and project themselves. So it was with Cíntia Lins, one of the minds at the head of Panelinhas do Brasil. With the expansion project for the whole country, the restaurant franchise chain with a focus on typical Brazilian food opened another unit this Monday (9/5). This time, at Shopping Diamond Mall, in Belo Horizonte.
Cíntia was born in Paraíba, but was raised in Brasilia. In an interview with Coluna Claudia Meireles, she revealed that the beginning of her professional life took place when she was still a teenager. Dedication, effort and willpower are words that run in the businesswoman’s veins since forever. At the age of 14, the partner of Panelinhas do Brasil started working as a saleswoman in clothing stores in a mall. “Only those who have worked in a mall know about the pressure to sell”, she emphasizes.
In search of professional growth, Cíntia took an important opportunity at the age of 18. She migrated to the banking system. Later, she served as the general manager of an agency. Faced with such a donation and commitment, Cíntia won the position of manager of the Midwest. However, it wasn’t enough for the young woman who wanted to launch herself into a new venture.
Hours of study and analysis on entrepreneurship led Cíntia to acquire the first food franchise. At the time, she was 24 years old. Three years later, the businesswoman had a partnership with more than 12 restaurants of different brands. While she was taking steps in her career, the Paraíba based in Brasília did not fail to invest in training to manage the business well.
First, the co-founder of Panelinhas do Brasil graduated in business administration from the Catholic University of Brasília (UCB) in 2018. At the beginning of the year, it was her turn to receive her degree in gastronomy from the Iesb. If you thought that Cíntia already boasted both formations when the Brazilian food restaurant franchise network appeared in 2013, you were wrong.
“At Panelinhas do Brasil, like any other company, everything revolves around selling brands, products, services and experiences”
In charge of an important business
The first restaurant was created in 2012 by Luiz Carlos Carvalho, still far from the franchise. However, the company already displayed the Panelinhas do Brasil brand and served food in the famous ceramic pans. “In 2013, my ex-husband and partner, Eric Furtado, got to know the operation and had the idea of buying the brand and transforming it into a franchise network. The task of executing this idea fell to me”, shares Cíntia.
In the beginning, Paraíba worked by selling franchises and, with the restaurants open, it started to manage team training and the quality of services provided by franchisees. “With the growth of the chain, I started to focus on expanding the brand to other states. Currently, the management of the franchisor and the franchisee network is carried out by professionals captured in the market”, he delivers.
The businesswoman jokes that, in Brazil, the entrepreneur is a “mixture of a hero and a madman”. “Hero because he has to face all the government bureaucracy, archaic legislation and the stigma that he is dishonest; crazy because only he, a businessman, sees the possibility of that dream coming true. And we saw that there was a growing market in the food franchise business and, in particular, in typical Brazilian food”, she says.
But why typical Brazilian food? “If you go today to a food court in any shopping mall, you will see that we have Japanese, Italian, American, Chinese, meat restaurants, etc. But we don’t have one that sells typical Brazilian food; In fact, we didn’t! Panelinhas do Brasil sells this experience, the regional food, that reminds you of home, of your home state. My favorite dishes are Galinhada com Pequi and Baião de Dois, great representatives of Brazilian cuisine”, he shares.
On the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs today, the co-founder of the brand speaks up.
“Among so many challenges, one of the main ones is to be respected, there is no doubt. It was common to attend an important meeting and the interlocutor asked me when the company representative would arrive. Machismo is embedded in all spheres, but especially in dealing with the Public Power. We women suffer from this disrespect at home, at work and in everyday life. We cannot lower our heads and we must respond to this with professionalism and competence. We owe nothing, absolutely nothing, in relation to the work developed by men, who, when they want, are great partners in life and work”, says Cíntia Lins.
Currently, Panelinhas do Brasil collects 15 restaurants “spread throughout Brazil”. The gastronomic etiquette not only makes the clientele sigh, but also helps those in need with social projects. In fact, one of them was fundamental to maintaining the employment of “all employees” during the pandemic. One of the ways the trio of partners found to continue operating was to establish partnerships with companies and government agencies.
“I’m very proud of it! As you all know, the restaurant area, especially those that work in malls, was heavily affected by the pandemic. Without being able to function, restaurants would lose all food stock and cooks would lose their jobs. So we had the idea of providing free food to the needy community of the Federal District, which was also suffering a lot from the consequences of the pandemic”, says the partner. “The cooks had their jobs kept and carried out the production of hot foods, and the food was bought with donations from friends and business partners. In short, it was a social action that aimed to maintain jobs and satisfy the hunger of the most needy, all from the donation of people who care about others”, she adds.
By 2023, the owners aim for Panelinhas do Brasil to grow by around 20%. To achieve the goal, they launched new products and sales channels. “Next month, from June 22nd to 25th, we will be present as exhibitors at the ABF Franchising Expo in São Paulo, with the aim of doing new business and opening more units in the Southwest region, where our focus is strategically at this moment. Therefore, if interested parties arise, we will not fail to evaluate opportunities in other regions”, he adds.
“Today, together with my two partners, I focus on the strategic area, on the vision of the future. We see an incredible potential for expansion to other states and in the technological revolution in dealing with consumers. Our projects revolve around that”
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