Love Cocoa: James Cadbury
The descendant of George Cadbury, of the world famous confectionery company, talks to us about his new ethical chocolate start-up
Tell us what your business does:
Love Cocoa is an ethical British chocolate start-up created by me, James Cadbury- the descendant of George Cadbury of the Cadbury confectionery company.
Love Cocoa's premium UK-handmade chocolate is part of a unique online chocolate gift service, with each bar designed to fit through the letterbox alongside a card, with free next day delivery.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I was searching for an online service through which I could post a chocolate gift directly to my Mum for her birthday, but I could not find a service which was next day and that fitted through the letterbox. Most retailers require items to be signed for and that ruins the surprise.
I looked everywhere, but in the end I popped a handmade card and some chocolate in the post. ‘What if I could do this from the comfort of my own home?’ I thought, and I knew I’d spotted a gap in the market for premium letterbox-friendly chocolate gifts.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I did market research and could see the explosion of start-ups aimed at delivering products through the letterbox such as Graze, Pact, Bloom & Wild and Boomf but couldn't see a chocolate company in this space.
I spoke with friends and family and they all thought there was a market, with chocolate a nice alternative to using a service such as Moonpig and something different to flowers.
I could see that there was a demand for good quality chocolate with customers’ tastes changing as well as the way the bar is presented with companies such as Brooklyn based Mast brothers doing well. We use the finest cocoa and have taken time and pride to get the branding right which is minimalist and appeals as a gift.
What were you doing before starting up?
I worked for a number of investment banks after University before moving into investment management.
I was part of the multi-asset allocation team, implementing and executing trades on behalf of the UK largest pension scheme with an asset of over £47b. This primarily involved trading derivative instruments but also physical investments, across different asset classes in the active and passive portfolios.
I enjoyed my time in finance but ultimately knew I wanted to start my own business rather than sit in front of a computer all day.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, it has always been my ambition to run my own business.
Even in the school playground I would always trade my football stickers and coins with school mates and negotiate a good deal so I could have more stickers!
Further, at University I use to trade on eBay to fund for nights out, importing all sorts of things to sell to people.
How did you raise the money?
I have self-funded the majority of the money to setup Love Cocoa and have also recently received a £10k Virgin start-up loan.
I will be looking for angel investment or crowdfunding in next few months now that I am up and running.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Our primary focus is on the e-commerce model in UK. Our customers are split between buying chocolate as a nice treat for themselves, or as a gift for someone else.
We are also gauging the interest in a monthly subscription club and have had some really good feedback already for this, so it’s something we will progress with at the start of next year. We are also likely to look at the corporate gift market next year and have had to turn down two companies already who were interested in our products.
In terms of retail, we have already been approached by a chain of sweet shops in the US, as well as interest from the Middle East.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Being a solo entrepreneur I have faced every possible challenged full on from accounting to IP law to food standards. I had no experience of the food or e-commerce markets so has been a steep learning curve.
Thankfully Google is around to help with many questions, with so much information available online now.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Getting people to the website and them ordering chocolate. You can never be too sure how people will react to a new concept and brand, however has been really positive and we have seen 5% of customers re-order in 10 days which has given me real hope.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Give it a go! Life is short and no point wondering if you should have tried something.
There are lots of resources which make it easy to setup a company now, especially with technology now becoming cheaper.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
To be the biggest online chocolate retailer in UK, as well as be sold throughout shop across the world.