Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Alumni create Mesocano, family recipe food business

Courtesy of Mesocano Foods

It started at a tailgate: two friends and one conversation about starting a business. A decade later, the aroma of their Napoletana flan and homemade tortillas imbues Austin’s local markets and stores, and their dreams come to fruition. 

Jesse Mondragon and Robert Silva completed the McCombs Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization program (MSTC) in 2020, enabling the start of their Mexican food company, Mesocano, along with co-founder Michael Mondragon. Following their dad’s flan recipe, the two brothers and their friend saw an opportunity to expand on the traditional custard on the market.

“It was always the flan,” Jesse Mondragon said. “It always stood out to us, my brother and I. It is our first product of many that we’re planning on releasing, but we really wanted to focus on (it) because it was that one thing that we grew up with.”

With three degrees from the College of Education, LBJ School of Public Affairs and McCombs, Jesse came up with the idea of Mesocano during his time at UT. He said the one-year program equipped him with courses to build a business from the ground up.

“The program really motivates you to want to pursue something and start something,” Jesse said. “I had always wanted to open up a business, which (is) why Robert and I connected. But for me, I always wanted to have a restaurant with my dad.”

Michael Mondragon, a UT Arts and Entertainment Technologies graduate, said he handles the visual elements of the business. He created Mesocano’s logo – a gold and blue jaguar resembling Aztec motifs and Lake Texcoco – after designing graphics for various startups as an undergrad. 

“I fell in love with the process of being in a small company, a small environment, and working together with a small team to bring a vision to life,” Michael said. “That’s what started my journey with Mesocano.”

Civil Engineering alumni Silva first enrolled in the MSTC program, convincing Jesse Mondragon to do the same. At Mesocano, Silva said he oversees the finances of the company such as payroll and forecasting, but all of the team’s responsibilities overlap in the kitchen. 

“We do a little bit of everything,” Silva said. “Everybody works in the kitchen: Michael might take more initiative in the actual cooking process in the oven side (and) I do a lot of prep work like mixing the ingredients together.” 

The three founders continue to engage with the Longhorn community, mentoring UT students who are considering starting a business and giving speeches for entrepreneurship courses at least once a semester. 

“The last three years (have been) just learning everyday,” Jesse said. “It’s a learning experience.”

In addition to the Mueller Farmers Market, their vanilla flan is sold at Whole Foods, Central Market and other grocery stores inside and outside of Austin. Jesse said the next steps for Mesocano include expanding organically, regionally and culturally. 

“We’re Mexican American, our parents are from Mexico, and I feel like a lot of times we undersell ourselves,” Jesse said. “There’s a lot of stuff that we have to offer as a culture that a lot of people would enjoy.”

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