Alumna returns to BC as guest lecturer
Real-life experiences complement classroom learning. It is an opportunity to ask questions of the content experts who have used the principles learned in the classroom to establish a career. Mary Silvestri ’86 and her husband Bob, the founders and proprietors of Romarsi Pesto, visited the Principles of Marketing class to discuss their journey as small business owners.
It all started with a suggestion by some of Mary’s friends who loved her homemade pesto. While her recipe is a secret, she does say that her pesto uses all fresh ingredients and does not use pine nuts to avoid allergic reactions in anyone who enjoys the dish. “Originally, I used the organic basic, a main ingredient, which I grew in my backyard,” she told the class. “But as the demand grew, we had to move the operation out of my kitchen. We rented a kitchen to make the product, which my husband would then take to area markets and restaurants to sell.”
Mary and Bob did an enormous amount of research about their competition, how to start up a company, and developing a business and marketing plan. “If you are going to start your own business, do it with something that you are passionate about,” said Bob. “Start small and learn the whole business. Your passion will help promote your product.”
They also spoke about networking, becoming involved in chambers of commerce, meeting other small business owners and learning how to partner with other companies for production and warehousing. Bob, a former sales manager for ATT, is the driving force behind Mary’s original creation. He does supermarket demonstrations and is able to talk face to face with prospective customers about the pesto.
All the students received a sample of Romarsi Pesto and asked many questions about marketing and advertising. It was a positive learning experience for the students, especially for those who want to become entrepreneurs someday.
Romarsi comes from the first few letters in Robert, Mary, and Silvestri.