Subscription box services have exploded since Birchbox ignited the trend in 2010. The model has become so ubiquitous that consumers can now get curated boxes of vinyl records, bacon, condoms, and even cannabis delivered to their doorsteps.
Now, Seattle startup Chococurb wants to do same for luxury chocolate.
Just over a year ago, Roger Ling and co-founder Kamran AmirAli came up with the idea for a chocolate subscription service based on the Birchbox model.
“We both loved chocolate and sweets in general, so we figured this would be a great way to combine something we love with a huge business opportunity,” AmirAli said.
The founders spent most of the past year developing their brand and building relationships with chocolate manufacturers before officially launching this past December.
“A great deal of them were impressed and felt that is was an incredibly unique and innovative way for consumers to discover and experience their chocolate around the US,” AmirAli said of the manufacturers. “We signed company after company to expand our chocolate diversity and we haven’t looked back since.”
We caught up with AmirAli for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We provide consumers with the opportunity to discover extraordinary chocolate every month, by sending people a customized a 5-to-7 chocolate item gift box catered toward their chocolate preferences.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We heard about Birchbox, Plated, and other subscription businesses, then researched these companies and their business models. We loved what they were doing and thought it’d be incredible to build our own subscription, while helping people discover extraordinary chocolate. We wanted to give our customers an experience like no other and become the go-to destination for everything chocolate.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap. With all due respect to angels and VCs, we believe in hustle, heart, and grind. We’re bootstrapping to build a brand and a stronger customer base for now. To be honest, it’s too early for us to go the investor route, but at the right time, that’s within the five-year plan.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Perfection. We believe that every box, every customer experience, and every piece of chocolate we provide should be perfect. At the end of the day we believe in being Apple, not Dell, or in our case, Theo and not Hershey’s (in terms of quality, brand/perception, and experience).”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Building a strong relationship with our chocolate-maker partners. We feel that since they are providing us with our bread and butter, we should hold a strong relationship with them to ensure that we are both successful. We constantly engage in collaborative efforts too, such as cross-promotions, contests, and more.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Without being arrogant, I feel that we haven’t made any mistakes yet. I do believe that we will eventually make one. That is part of owning and running a business, but thus far we have been fortunate.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Jobs. Nothing beats innovation, creativity and great brand marketing. People love Apple because of the way the company takes care of its customers and hip new products.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Our first major piece of press hits the Internet and printed material. We feel that we can grow at a rapid rate once people around the U.S. know who we are. There is a huge chocolate market globally and once people realize we exist we will take over the U.S. chocolate market. Why buy from a B&M with limited diversity when you can order from us instead?”
Rivals should fear us because: “We are both intelligent, hard-working individuals who will never stop innovating to provide our consumers with the best experience possible.”
We are truly unique because: “Where else can one go to indulge in life’s greatest pleasures: chocolate. Not only do we help people discover extraordinary chocolate, we also help them learn about it, get more, and most importantly, be happy.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Getting the idea to be tangible. We now have our supply chain down and we have relationships built with chocolate suppliers, so we are ready to take on a large level of demand and take the U.S. chocolate community by storm.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Don’t let negativity around you get you down. Stay focused and work hard until you make it. In the end, your creativity, intelligence, and innovative qualities will set you apart and change the world.”