We’ve been together our whole lives. It was a natural progression that we eventually started something together because we complement each another so well. It just so happened to be a cocoa business.n Our friend’s family had started a pumpkin patch, and they were selling out of this watered-down cocoa. We just thought that we could do better—something large, internet-based, and scalable.
Building From the Ground Up
We definitely talked numbers in terms of price point and how much we’d have to sell to cover our relatively low costs. There were definitely a lot of questions. How do we get started? Is this a viable business? Is it scalable?
We didn’t need a lot of funding. We needed a blender to get all the ingredients mixed together and we need to source packaging. But in general, we didn’t need a lot. And that was something we talked about in our discussion because if we’d have needed a lot of inventory or even a brick-and-mortar, we wouldn’t have done it. It’s 2017; it’s very easy to start a company online with very little investment. The fact that we didn’t have to reach out to investors or tap any resources made us able to start our business.
We had initial hometown support from our friends and family—and that pushed us through and solidify our system. Truly, it only took a few days after our launch to get things solidified.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Giving Back To Our Community
One of our costs is the Boys & Girls Club in our hometown. We wanted to give back to the community that we grew up in. Thankfully, we already had a pretty good social media footprint, so we tapped that. We were able to skip the first several months of building up an audience and went right into it. Social media has been our biggest marketing, and it’s free. That’s probably how we’re going to continue; we need to grow it more naturally before heavily investing in other forms of marketing.
The most important thing for us is a clear separation of responsibilities. There’s no way that either one of us could do this by ourselves. It’s very efficient, and because we’re already so close, it was easy for us to make those distinctions.
Growing Pains: Rising Above The Obstacles
The first week was probably the worst in terms of balancing all of our work and personal responsibilities. When we first launched, there was an influx of orders mainly locally from family and friends. Not only did we have to fulfill the order, but we had to figure out how to deliver them. Those were things that weren’t on our radar initially. There were definitely some growing pains.
In 2014, our mom was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer; that’s obviously close to our hearts. Our mom is also a special-ed teacher so we’ve been around autistic kids our entire lives. Cancer and autism were the two biggest causes that we were going to contribute to with our company profits. It was really fun to get to choose charities that we wanted.
We try to pick charities that tackled multiple problems that are close to our hearts. For example, we’re also working with The Sierra Club Foundation, which not only works to preserve pieces of land, but also has a veterans program. We also teamed up with the St. Andrew’s society, which works to reduce hunger and food waste in the community. Finally, there is local outreach for the town that we grew up in, which is our favorite part because we know the people we’re affecting personally, and that’s a really cool story for us.