STARTUP STORY: PERFECT FUEL CHOCOLATE

PERFECT FUEL TABLE | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOG

PERFECT FUEL TABLE | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOG

Perfect Fuel Chocolate is an organic dark chocolate snack for healthy, active people. The fuel story begins with Nicolas who had been training for a triathlon and forgot his ginseng the night before his race. Nicolas had been eating a combination of cocoa nibs and ginseng throughout his training and when he  couldn’t find any after an extensive 3 hour search, he was inspired to create a more convenient product that combined the benefits of these superfoods.

With Nicolas’ product inspiration and Miles’ appreciation and experience in farming and cocoa production, the two fused their interests in athletics, business, and nutrition to create Perfect Fuel Chocolate and brought their first product, Super Dark Chocolate Energy Bites, to retail in 2012.

Dark Chocolate Benefits

  • Lowers stress levels and blood pressure
  • Improves heart health, circulation, and overall mood
  • Provides energy

American Ginseng Benefits

  • Lowers stress levels
  • Improves psychological and brain functioning, physical endurance, and immune system

PERFECT FUEL | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOG

With only five ingredients in every bite, Super Dark Chocolate Energy Bites are packaged in individual bite-sized with only 80 calories and containing 500mg of certified organic North American ginseng rich in antioxidants with no refined sugars!

  • Organic Cacao
  • Organic Cacao Butter
  • Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Organic Vanilla Bean
  • Organic American Ginseng

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The team initially launched with their flagship Dark Chocolate & Ginseng and later incorporated some of their favorite superfoods to keep you going, going, going!

Perfect Fuel Bites flavors:

Dark Chocolate Espresso Energy Bites: Each piece contains 50mg of caffeine from organic coffee beans for an extra boost, organic dark chocolate for circulation health, and 3g of low glycemic Organic Coconut Palm Sugar.

Dark Chocolate Chia Energy Bites: Each piece contains 3g of certified organic chia for fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients, organic dark chocolate for circulation health, and 3g of low glycemic Organic Coconut Sugar.

Energy Bite Pouch Ginseng:Each piece contains 500mg of certified organic North American ginseng for natural endurance and focus, organic dark chocolate for circulation health, low glycemic Organic Coconut Sugar, and is loaded with iron and magnesium.

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Who are the business founders and when did you launch the business?

Nicolas Warren and Miles Masci are the founders. When Nicolas was missing his cocoa nib and ginseng pre-race combo at a triathlon, he thought to make a product that conveniently combined the two. Nicolas was off to Nicaragua and shortly after, incorporated Perfect Fuel Chocolate in Spring 2011. A year later in February 2012, a retail product was ready for store shelves.

What inspired you to start your business?

Nicolas was inspired by an experience competing at a triathlon where he didn’t have access to his cocoa nib and ginseng combo.  Miles grew up with an herbalist mother and was inspired by the healthy cocoa products being whispered about in Ecuador.  When he met Nicolas and tasted the first batch Nicolas had made in Nicaragua, he was hooked.  We are looking to expand the company to include more convenient and organic energy products.

Where do you currently make your product and how did you find the process of finding a kitchen to be like?

Perfect Fuel chocolate does the research and development in house. Contract manufactures and large retail runs throughout the United States. The process of finding and negotiating with a manufacturer takes about three months, if all goes smoothly.  We now have very good relationships with these partners.

Did you have a background in the food/drink industry when you started?

Not really, it was a new space for the two of us.

Nicolas worked as a chef and knew about nutrition, food preparation, and operations. Nicolas had almost spent time working hard in numerous tech startups focused on consumer promotions and advertising, including Google-funded SCVNGR/LevelUP and the original Facebook-preferred vendor, Stuzo. Combining his love for business, healthy food and sports, Nicolas is now focused on creating the “perfect snack for a healthy, active life.”

Miles had a farming background, lending his skills to sourcing and quality.  He developed a deep appreciation for cocoa production and the chocolate process in working with cocoa growers in Ecuador for two years during his stint in the Peace Corps.  His connection to producers and searching for ways to solve their business problems led him to Babson College when he returned to the United States, meeting Nicolas there after.

What are some examples of rookie mistakes you made when starting out?

Outsource bookkeeping- just do that upfront, track everything, and keep your books in order.  It may seem expensive, but it will save you time and money in the end.

Your biggest business challenge to date?

Speed and marketing are the biggest challenges.  As a young company, you can be agile but in our position in contract manufacture, you’re also at the mercy of your producer in meeting timelines.

Retail in the B to C space is irrational and based on emotion.  It works with strong marketing and our grass roots method is taking hold, now with some loyal fans.  Still we are competing with some large players and big budgets.  We are the underdog.

How do you stay motivated in the face of competition?

We celebrate all the positive feedback from customers and successes. We’ve got a tiger by the tail here and sometimes it’s exhilarating and sometimes we get scratched… painfully so.  Having a product and seeing people interact with it, try it, and love it is so satisfying.  We live for those moments.

What’s the strangest customer request or feedback you’ve gotten?

Probably a long conversation with a gentlemen about chocolate and IBS and his bowl moments… of course this question takes us to the bathroom.  Another was the email of a woman who ate our chocolate during childbirth!  That was awesome and we didn’t see that coming.

What’s your main business goal for 2014?

The main goal is to launch the rest of our product line: our Espresso and Chia Energy Bites.

Where do you see the business in 10 years?

We see several product lines and identifying as a national and international player for organic, convenience, and nutrition.

What’s your team or company motto/mantra?

There are definitely a few phrases floating around: “Because you’re human,” “be active, eat chocolate,” and of course, “it is perfect”.

Advice for someone with a great artisan food or drink idea?

Stay focused, move quickly, and constantly get input from customers, retailers, and advisers.

TRY PERFECT FUEL CHOCOLATE NOW!

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