The Chocolate Life

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Brownie Shotz, adventures in starting a chocolate business

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Brownie Shotz and I wanted to mark the occasion somehow. I thought I would relate my adventures thus far. (I wanted to do this yesterday but I got too busy). So anyhow, one year ago (the first day of spring) I had dinner with a friend and one of her clients. The client (whom I hadn't met before) had started a potato chip business several months earlier. As he related the story of how he started, I became more and more interested. Instead of having an old home recipe or a passion for potato chips in general, he told of how he had been watching a segment on the Food Network show "Unwrapped" about how Kettle Chips developed its flavors.

He said he was drinking a beer at the time. As he watched, he thought to himself, "I bet I could come up with a potato chip flavor." As he took another swig from his beer, he had (as Donny Deutsch would say) an "Aha" moment.

"BEER CHIPS! That's a good name," he thought to himself.

He immediately went to see if the domain name was available, and lo and behold, it was! He immediately registered the name and went on to look it up in the trademark registry. It was available there as well so he grabbed that.

"So," he related, "in about 15 minutes and a couple of hundred dollars, I had my intellectual property."

He decided to continue the exercise and the next day found a company somewhere back east that co-packed for the snack food industry. He contacted them and told them of his idea and wondered if they could create a couple of samples for him. Sure enough in a few days, a small box of samples appeared at his doorstep. He was in business.

As I sat there listening to him, I began to search my memory files for an idea. Now I've been a designer for a long time and keep ideas filed away for possible future use. One idea I had had many years before when I was designing a lot of premiere parties and corporate events in Los Angeles was to create some sort of brownie sampler. The caterers I used to work with would often have little bite sized brownies of various flavors on their dessert tables. The idea kept recurring to me anytime I would have a brownie or see a brownie through the years. (The idea first occurred to me back in the late '80's mind you). Now it was my turn for an "aha moment".

As I walked back home from dinner, my mind started formulating the idea of a brownie sampler. I had just come off a gig where I did branding and identity development for a company called Fizzy Fruit so I had learned a good deal about the food industry and what it takes to get a food product to market. Concept was king I had learned so I decided to come up with a catchy name for my new company. "BROWNIE SHOTZ" seemed pretty good. I would end it with a "Z" because I had learned from the Fizzy Fruit experience that the Trademark people won't give you a trademark on words that can be found in the dictionary.

When I got home, I nervously looked up "BROWNIE SHOTZ.COM". To my surprise, the domain was available. I immediately registered it as well as Brownie, .net, .biz as well as Brownie Shots, with an "s" and the attendant dots. I also registered the name with the US Department of Patents and Trademarks.

The next day, I went to my friend at the Food Innovation Center in Portland to get her advice. "Go home and bake." she recommended. So that's what I did. Over the next several days, I developed my recipes and came up with 3 flavors.

"These are great," she said when I went back. "They would be even better enrobed in chocolate." she suggested. "Plus it would extend their shelf life" That's very important in the food world. So I went to a local candy supplier and got some coveteur chocolate. That's when Brownie Shotz was really born. Now, I had a concept and a product. All I had to do now was figure out how to produce it on a commercial scale.

But that's a story for another time. Right now I have stuff to do for Brownie Shotz. Let me know if you want to hear more about how I'm developing my business or if I'm just typing to hear myself type.

By the way, if you read this Donny, I could use a little of that "Deutsch effect" you talk about!

Views: 150

Tags: Beer, Brownie, Brownies, Center, Chips, Deutsch, Donny, Fizzy, Food, Fruit, More…Innovation, Network, Shotz, Unwrapped


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Comment by Andre Costa on January 16, 2009 at 11:49am
Hi Jim.

I know you've written at least 3 more articles on your journey, but I wanted to extend my good luck wishes anyway!
I can't wait to read the remaining entries!
Comment by Carol on March 21, 2008 at 2:54pm
Your story is great and I would love to hear more. Keep writing and congratulations on your first anniversary


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