Oh the joys of the holiday season: Christmas music, snow, decorations, old movies and our favorite, chocolate. Over the years, the selection of chocolate has skyrocketed, making the thrill of buying/receiving some even that much more of an adventure. But if you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a chocolate bar from Chocri this season, you’ll have the satisfaction of indulging in a unique combination of ingredients that, in all likelihood, nobody else has ever experienced.
Chocri, the company, has a lot of the same feel good elements as the product they produce. What started off small and simple is a now the catalyst for a new trend in the chocolate market, mass-customization. By simply logging on to the company’s North American website, you can create personalized chocolate bars with up to five toppings from a list of 21 fruits, 20 spices, 20 nuts, 21 confections, 20 decors, 19 grains and 13 holiday toppings, all of which can be built on one of 4 different types of chocolates. If selection makes you squeamish, this process may not be for you.
The idea for Chocri came in April 2008 when German University student Franz Duge was in a pinch to find a gift for his girlfriend’s birthday. The only thing that came to his mind was chocolate, so he used his and business partner Michael Bruck’s chocolate fountain to melt some chocolate, which he topped off with a few gummy bears and some trail mix.
The duo thought they might be on to something, so they spent a few months doing some planning before launching in September 2008. They built momentum right out of the gates, as they had so many orders within a month that they needed friends and family to help out on the production line — this is truly unique in the startup world; usually you go asking friends and family for money, not help filling orders. Even with the reinforcements, the company couldn’t keep up with demand, as they sold out for Christmas and had to stop taking orders online.
The story gets even sweeter the deeper you dig.
In 2009, Chocri moved into a larger production facility that allowed it to triple its production capacity. Midway through the year they enlisted the services of Carmen Magar, to run the company, who according to Pretty Young Professional, is a bold and intelligent young lady. The German twenty-something, who earned her MBA in Chicago, rejected a job in one of the big-four consulting firms and took a leap of faith as CEO of Chocri. Unfortunately for customers, her addition didn’t do anything to slow sales, and the company ran out of chocolate again at Christmas.
In January 2010, the company launched in the US to much fanfare. Their story was picked up by some of the hottest media hubs on the web, giving sales another kick. They were forced to move again in June to a bigger production facility to keep up with the demand. Luckily for us, the Great White North was not forgotten, as they launched in Canada in July 2010.
The real melt-in-your-mouth moment for the company came in September, when Chocri announced that Ritter, a global chocolate maker that produces 75 million bars a month, had bought thirty percent of the company for a low seven-figure amount. According to the founders, the deal was a meeting of “like-minded people,” which can only mean good things for the future of this company.
Overall, the Chocri story is one that won’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth. It may inspire you enough to veer away from the traditional Pot of Gold chocolates and venture into the realm of customized chocolate creations. I got a little creative with my own set of Chocri creations last year and it was a really fun experience, so give it a shot!
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