An exclusive interview with MeMento’s CEO & Founder Eugenio Muraro
Organic, vegan, gluten free and sugar free, MeMento is the first 100 % Italian Non-Alcoholic Mediterranean blend of distilled aromatic waters. Born in 2017 as a result of a University project, MeMento’s sophisticated consistency allows it to be used as a versatile Non-alcoholic mixing ingredient, as a healthy and mindful alternative to regular drinks.
We have interviewed the range’s founder Eugenio Muraro, a specialised engineer who, after working for years in the renewable energy sector, decided to pursue an Executive MBA (2015-2017) at MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business and for his Master’s Project Work developed the business plan of a groundbreaking idea that focused on tradition: MeMento, which was awarded ‘Best Project ’ by MIP and, as a result, was officially launched in October 2017.
Considering the beginnings of MeMento what triggered the idea of creating a Non Alcoholic distillate with scents of the Mediterranean Sea?
The reason why we have chosen such a unique flavour profile for MeMento Blue is that I have always felt a strong bond with our country and its scents. Blue in particular, with its intense scent, as well as the natural aromas, reminds me about my childhood summers in the Tuscan seaside, where every morning we used to forage wild Mediterranean botanicals to add a special perfume to the house and to our recipes.
How much is “Made in Italy” important in the image-building of MeMento, and its creation of the experience?
“Made in Italy” has always been a key aspect of MeMento’s philosophy, because it represents the quality of an artisanal, handcrafted, and millennial experience that encloses the values of a culture, in which men and territory melt together to reach excellence.
Which are the Italian values that most influence MeMento, its production, and its taste? And how do they, together with the Made in Italy, integrate themselves with a more international point of view?
Certainly: harmony of flavour, naturalness – so try to convey as much as possible the inner characteristics of the plant without altering them through the production process -, attention to details, and tradition – because we are talking about a very ancient method, linked to a world of antique remedies and medicines -.The inspiration comes precisely from this deep Italian heritage, starting from Nature and integrating it in the contemporary world, from the use of the best analytical and laboratory testing tools, to the most advanced technologies such as computer-aided design.Indeed, when it comes to the bottle, we ran a specific study through a design software, in order to give life to a well-balanced and sustainable packaging, from the use of natural elements, like glass and wood, to the involvement of technology.
Do the Italian values still appeal abroad?
Yes, because all Italian products represent good taste, eye for details, but also minding about the quality of the ingredients – this means that our territory consisting of sea, mountain, and hills, allows us to have access to a great variety of elements.The presence of many Italians abroad helps, too. This means that there is a memory, a willingness to remember and preserve Italy and its products.MeMento is available, for example, in the US and also in Canada, where the Italian community is still very strong, also from a consumption habit point of view (for instance, in Canada we are present in different Italian restaurants).Also, in the hospitality industry, on an international level, there are many Italians working as bartenders, hotel directors, chefs, et al. so, surely also from their side there is a great attention for Italian products.
Internationally speaking, how much is appearance important in the beverage sector and how does MeMento answer this specific need?
I think that appearance is really important, because in every purchase we do, we first choose with our eyes. This is also why, through the aesthetic component of our bottle, we always wanted to transmit the values of our product and the philosophy of our brand, because, from our point of view, through sight we need to transmit the elements that MeMento wants to communicate. So, if someone looks at the bottle, elements of naturality, tradition, design and innovation should come to mind, together with the willingness and curiosity of opening it to discover and value what is inside.
Considering the variety of countries in which MeMento is present, what gathers them around this unique non-alcoholic blend of distilled aromatic waters?
The presence of MeMento in some countries does not only depend on MeMento itself in the way it is or the way it proposes itself, but evidently also by an actual need for this kind of product.Clearly the Anglo-Saxon countries, in which we export, need these products for a variety of reasons.Firstly because, in contraposition to alcohol abuse, it emerged the need of having non-alcoholic quality products that can be consumed instead of alcoholic drinks. This also applies to the US which has extremes of consumption of high calories products and alcohol, but there are also important niches in which the attention to a balanced lifestyle is very important. This is jointed with the fact that the draining elements of MeMento are boosting around the world: as no-alcohol, no sugar, low calories, gluten, or lactose free products.The countries where we work the most are those in which the people are conscious of their consumption and are not vitiated by a strong individual-based marketing. There is a cultural and expertise level that allows the understanding of this type of product. Some cases come to my mind: in China or India, the great pressure exerted by the big alcohol producers has a strong impact. This is due to a lower health experience compared to the occidental world. This can be said also for South America, where the presence of carbonate drinks is very strong.
How does MeMento differ from its competitors? And how would they coordinate themselves in a joint project?
MeMento differs from its competitors by the Italian identity feature of the Mediterranean, and it also differs on a technical level, for example, from the point of view of the production, as we process distilled aromatic waters, so we do not have alcohol in any step of the process. While on the other side, from what we know, many other members of our category dealcoholize the product, resulting in a creation that is technically completely different. What about a collaboration project? I do not know how it would be possible to realize it, because we are talking about products of the very same category. In mixology it is not common to mix two different types of whisky in the same cocktail, to name one.
I think that a collaboration would be more suitable in terms of sticking together and working as a team in order to promote this sector in general, to raise the awareness about non-alcoholic distillates, to let people know the importance and the use of this type of products. In this way I would say yes: a collaboration might occur when it comes to creating a category association to safeguard the producers, even if I think it is still early for this.
The brand seems to focus on a dichotomy between history (MeMento itself, Ricettario Fiorentino, Rinascimento project) and innovation. Which one does play the biggest role in shaping the experience? And which one is the key feature in creating the uniqueness?
The bond with history arises from the fact that aromatic waters have been used for hundreds of years. We innovated in the way that we brought them in the bartending context, and this has never been done before: it is a matter of trying to revive also some cultural and traditional values in the contemporary world; rarely we invent something, there are many things from the past that have already been studied and used that we rediscovered and revive trying to add more value to them.
This is also true for the Renaissance project we launched last year: apparently in this historical moment, especially the post covid-19 era during which we saw our fragility, I think it is important to put people back at the center in a new humanism.It is also important for an international proposition to bring back the local instead of global values, but without standardizing or leveling everything according to some common features. This means championing smaller entrepreneurial realities, more focused on certain types of customers, less standardized and more niche.
Considering the creative and innovative project “Rinascimento”, which underlies a message of rebirth, how does this combine with MeMento as a lifestyle and a sustainable choice? To what extent does MeMento’s experience represent a rebirth for the soul and the five senses?
The Renaissance project also recalls the idea of rebirth on a personal level and also the reevaluation of the characteristics of each individual. So, the product, because of its features, tends to be very customized through its use and creativity. It is not a mass product which is all the same for everybody.This is connected to the idea of Renaissance in terms of fulfillment of the individual needs and not of an indistinct mass of people.
How important are ethics, sustainability, and sociality for you, MeMento, and its users?
Ethics, sustainability and sociality are truly the pillars of our firm. These have been the key drivers that inspired me since I started, not only for what concerns the production – obviously, MeMento embodies these principles – but also in terms of firm. Business ethics means working with people properly, trying to cooperate as much as possible with partners, suppliers, but also with customers, with the aim of obtaining the best for everybody not only for us, helping them in difficult situations. For instance, during the lockdown we always paid all our suppliers on time, and in some cases even before the invoices were due, which they have really appreciated, as not everyone acted like this. This attitude leads to strong partnerships based on mutual help, since the two parts are trustable. On the other hand, respect is perceived also within the firm, where people’s opinions are considered, and the workflow is not strict.
When I worked with professionals as Liquid-Hub.com team, the focus has always been on achieving the target, not on the quantification of the necessary time. This ethics is coupled with sustainability and sociality, because the attention paid to people’s freedom and needs translates into work sustainability and sociality, meant as freedom to express themselves in the best way possible without constraints: everything is based on individual responsibility in regards to certain goals, providing the possibility to work autonomously. It is a life and work philosophy.Speaking about sociality and MeMento’s consumption, the core idea is that drinking is not only necessarily meant as drinking alcohol. The fundamental concept of sociality is not connected to alcohol but to us, how we present ourselves in a certain circumstance.
The new non-alcoholic blend MeMento Blue recalls the freshness of the Italian summer and the memory of it. What has been the main impulse of this idea?
We wanted to condense into MeMento Blue the feeling of an Italian marine experience through the sea water. The image I picture when I think about MeMento Blue is of a summer day spent on a sailboat. Moreover, this is linked to the cuisine world. Indeed, the ingredients, as oregano and sage are typically used for cooking, as this makes this product also suitable for cooking.
To which three different real-life experiences would you associate MeMento, MeMento Green and MeMento Blue?
For MeMento we thought about an urban moment of breakout from the frenetic rhythms of work, allowing us to live an experience that brings us back to nature, take a break from the daily treadmill of the city and isolate ourselves from the everyday world.For MeMento Green we thought about its consumption in the countryside, maybe in a wellness center.Concluding with MeMento Blue, I picture a happy hour at the beach after a long day of sun, with a nice view of the sea, under the sunshade or in an agreeable bar.
How would you translate your studies, and the Executive MBA at MIP you participated in, in terms of MeMento experience?
This experience has been very useful for me for two main reasons. Firstly, it allowed me to acquire the theoretical competences needed to conduct business operations, such as strategic marketing, the supply chain, business evaluation, profitability, and development.Secondly it played an inspirational role through the people I met during the experience, and that gave me different visions.
In the manufacturing production of MeMento, MeMento Green and MeMento Blue, every ingredient is separately distilled in order to highlight the individual taste. Can this also be considered a purpose of the brand on a human level? Since MeMento’s experience helps create personality and identity.
Yes, I surely think so. In this way every person, as every single ingredient, to express herself or himself in the best of the ways need to be treated distinctly. Thinking about every person and evaluating her or him in every detail, that person can be added in a team knowing its core competences and working jointly with the others, in the same way the ingredients are treated to createevery MeMento product.
MeMento is available in the following countries:
United States of America: Opici Wines & Spirits
Canada: Agence Tannins
Singapore: Cornerstone Wines
Hong Kong: BrightView
Online: MeMento Shop
Director of Sales and Marketing