aNewDomain.net—There’s something about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that just lights up the imaginations of the young and not-so young. So when tech entrepreneurs turn to chocolate as Patrick Ferrell did, I had to hear the story about Imagine Chocolate.
It all started when Pat’s partner, Mitchell Koulouris, got a call from the Grammy’s late in 2011. The request? Chocolates for the pre-event. Mitchell had a set of chocolate recipes that Pat had always enjoyed and thought should go beyond small artisanal batches. Following the call they created a partnership and dove in to supply 2,500 boxes each with four gourmet chocolates. Pat drove the stock to the venue in Los Angeles.
Then Paul McCartney’s people called for dessert chocolates, a small batch of 3000 boxes.
One on-going financing campaign and a deal with a well-regarded truffles manufacturer later, Pat and Imagine Chocolate took off.
The product is simply fun. It’s not the typical sweets you’d expect in a gift store. Gourmet chocolates—each recipe is named after or inspired by popular songs—are bundled into boxes with themes such as Sir Paul, Totally Tubular 80’s, Hip Hop Dizzle—you get the picture. Pat says, “It’s an adventure. We have liner notes from each song that sparks off memories, making each bite quite fun.”
Packaging is key. The assortments I saw are eye-catching, inside they are nicely put together. Pat said, “Women make up 78 percent of chocolate buyers.” The other 22 percent? They are men who buy chocolates for women.
Before our meeting he had just met with a new distributor. In addition to retail stores, Imagine Chocolate is getting into the school fundraising area and pro sports venues.
Pat’s tech antecedents started when I worked with him at GamePro magazine, an IDG publication that caught the video console game wave and was wildly successful. Currently Pat is involved in two other tech entities, Zenergo, a matchmaking site for activities, and Xulu, a gaming and social company.
I asked what advice Pat has for people who want to start their own business. For the entrepreneur, Pat suggests, “Keep it simple.” If you have a concept, push it out and let the consumer tell you what they like and don’t like. Then you can iterate to fine tune your product.
Based in Silicon Valley, Joy Ma is a long time tech journalist and startup veteran. She currently serves as aNewDomain.net’s Executive Editor. Email her [email protected]