The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!


Startup Central

Are you looking to start a chocolate business? Want to talk to others who've been there or done that - or have you been there and done it and want to share with others? This is the place to discuss it.

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Members: 671
Latest Activity: on Tuesday

Startup Central

Do you make great chocolates? Know everything there is to know about tempering chocolate and cooking the perfect caramel? Able to turn out thousands of finished chocolates without blinking any eye?

Does the thought of using Quickbooks or writing a business plan sends you screaming into the walk-in begging for mercy?

This group is for you. When you join, please introduce yourself to the group in a comment on this page. Yes, I know you have a profile page, but it would be great to have you add a few words about you and your business in the context of this group. If you have a website, feel free to post a link to it. Please don't post a link to your profile page, people can just click on your profile photo to visit that.

PS. Below is the full picture I used for the Group photo. It's a chocolate store/cafe in Mexico. Those are stone mills (the kind Taza uses) to the right of the guy with his back to you in the blue shirt and notice that they are selling beans. The stone mills suggest that this store is located in Oaxaca.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Clay Gordon on January 5, 2009 at 12:44pm
Kate: Welcome to Startup Central. There are many experienced resources here that should be able to help. :: Clay
Comment by Kate Greene on January 5, 2009 at 12:32pm
Hi all! I'm sorry I neglected to introduce myself when I joined earlier. I'm planning to open a chocolate shop in Chicago. Both physical location and web retail. Lots of ideas about promoting awareness of free-trade/sustainability issues and bean-to-bar chocolatiers and those concerned with best practices from the processing of the beans through making the chocolate. I'm in the initial planning process, trying to get a business plan developed, identify site location, identify web site developers, etc. Still lots to think through and ideas to more fully develop. Looking forward to sharing my story and getting any and all advice and suggestions! - Kate
Comment by Clay Gordon on December 29, 2008 at 2:25pm
Several Startup Central members have asked me privately if I offer consulting services. I have and do. Several ChocolateLife members are consulting clients of mine. In light of the current economic climate and to make my services more available and affordable, I am offering two new ways for ChocolateLife members to take tap into my experience, expertise, and network in semi-private group or private settings, online. Visit the Consulting Services Overview page to learn more about these new for 2009 consulting programs.
Comment by Langdon Stevenson on December 28, 2008 at 7:03pm
Welcome to the group LaTonja. Happy to help if we can, but I am sure that many of us would be interested to hear about your experiences so far too.
Comment by LaTonja on December 28, 2008 at 6:21pm
Hello and Happy Holidays to all,

I was so happy to receive Clays email about this group. I'm in the final stretch of opening a chocolate store, "The Chocolate Bar", in Encino California, and have had so many questions, but not a lot of answers.
Thank you!!!!!!
Comment by Langdon Stevenson on December 23, 2008 at 3:29am
Fair call on the scale issue Tom. Of course there is nothing stopping you from growing larger under that business model is you choose to down the track. I can also understand the idea of going with a product/service (the cafe) that people can understand. I have seen first hand how hard it can be to sell something completely new. It's not for the faint hearted.
Comment by Tom on December 22, 2008 at 11:38pm
I'd say definitly leaning towards cafe style, I have bitten off more than I can chew in the past (we had Australia wide distribution for the skimboards we imported). I like the idea of something small, using a medium that people can relate to ie 'the cafe'. As you can see by the two businesses I mentioned there is broad scope even in this catagory. You could lean towards pastries using the chocolate (someone I think on here does that) or truffles (Choklat) and bars (Bitterswet) or team up with a chocolatier. A lot depends on so much like processing costs, profit margins, target market here, projected sales, location hence the research. It sound like most people spend about 2-3 years getting to know chocolate before embarking on a business venture.
Comment by Langdon Stevenson on December 22, 2008 at 11:17pm
Hi Tom, it's nice to see someone planning ahead :-) I dare say that by the time you are ready to go you will have a very strong knowledge base to work from. We spent about two years in planning for Tava and putting the pieces together. I take it that you are considering a cafe style business of some sort, or is that still completely up in the air?
Comment by Tom on December 22, 2008 at 11:03pm
Hi Langdon, not much to tell of the project. I just got a job as a senior research chemist with a small pharma company (Bionomics) It is an awesome outfit and I can see myself spending 5 or so years with them. Besides we are planning to have another child. I am content with R&D and learning about chocolate with a view to a business of some sort in 5 years or so. There are some excellent businesses I have been watching such as Bittersweet Cafe in SF and Choklat in Canada - so many business models and ideas out there.
Comment by Tom on December 22, 2008 at 7:41pm
Awesome picture, thanks Clay, it is interesting to see the artwork on the walls now.

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