Is there anything mouth-watering than deep, dark, and delicious chocolate bars? Just imagine the appetizing and delightful feel of the chocolate bar when added with your own personalized toppings i.e. honey roasted almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, walnuts and roasted pistachios —Believe me, your mouth will be in sweet heaven.
This Bangalore based chocolate startup Happiness Bars lets you design your own chocolate bars from 3+ chocolate bases and 65+ ingredients. The toppings include – Nuts, fruits, candy, herbs & spices, topping-decorations and other ingredients.
All you need to do is choose your chocolate base, add your favorite topping and add to cart. And thats it, all done. The website has another feature i.e. gifting certificates, which allows you to choose your message and they will add those letters on your bar. They even have special pre-made bars called “Superstars” and “Minibars.”
Started by serial chocolate entrepreneur, Shubra Acharya, Happiness Bars evolved from her successful B2B chocolate company called “Food of the Gods,” which she started at the age of 19 while pursuing her BA from Christ College.
Shubra says, “Food of the Gods today is one of the leading B2B chocolate companies working with large corporates from across India in creating premium customized chocolate products.” After completing MBA in International Business in Marketing from Christ University and Learning Capital School, Singapore, Shubra decided to take her chocolate business to the next level.
Since she was in B2B business, she was receiving huge demand for custom chocolate bars from her family and friends – Thus Happiness Bars was born. She adds, “However, we always got regular calls and requests from friends and family asking if we could create a few chocolates for them with certain specific fillings in them. Since B2B did not require us to stock smaller quantities of the rare ingredients that our friends asked for, it was becoming difficult to procure and to make them happy!”
“Some research and we figured out that we could set up a website with a fully fledged online kitchen, with as many toppings as we wanted to cater to the individual orders and requests we go very regularly. We got to work immediately and launched Happiness Bars, since we already had the knowhow of logistics, operations and production. The new learning would be ecommerce and retail.”
Started in August 2014, Happiness Bars witnessed instant success without any marketing and publicity. She adds, “Happiness Bars has been growing at a rate of 100% every month since inception. We are receiving an average of 30-40 orders per day, with the numbers being very high during festivals and when marketing activities are undertaken.”
“40% of all our customers are return customers. Our retention rates are very high.” She smiles.
During their inception, they only needed investment for setting up a website and hiring branding consultants. Although their target customers are from metro cities, surprisingly they are receiving 50% of orders from tier 2 cities from across India.
She says, “Happiness Bars has been getting funded by Food of the Gods during its initial time before breakeven. We have achieved breakeven in 6 months of operation.” Happiness Bars, along with Food of the Gods are part of a parent company – Theobroma Cacao.
Speaking about their startup, she says, “Happiness Bars has the vision of spreading smiles through every interaction we have with our consumers. We want to change the way chocolates are perceived, purchased and consumed in India. We want people to have what exactly they want, and not just buy what is available. We are India’s first Make-Your-Own-Chocolate website in India, and we give our customers exactly what they crave for in their chocolate.”
During their initial days, they faced some hurdles while streamlining their process. Since, they were catering to the B2B format for a long time, the quantity of orders were huge. But there was lot of confusion while handling single orders, as she says, “During the first few days, there was no way to know which bar belong to which customer once it was wrapped. This led to a lot of confusion during our initial days. However, we now have implemented some processes to ensure there is no confusion.”
She further adds, “Another issue we have had is of logistics. We use premium courier agencies for shipping our products because they have the maximum reach and the time taken to deliver is very low. The last thing we want is for our chocolates to reach our customers melted or in bad shape due to logistics handling. We are able to ensure that very well, but since our numbers are not extremely huge, our costs of logistics are high. While we have been able to work out brilliant prices for chocolates, some customers feel the shipping cost is very high in comparison to that of the chocolate itself.”
Finally, she has a great piece of advice for young entrepreneur – “If you are bullish about an idea that you have, don’t ever give up on it. There is always going to be a million people giving you tips on how to go about things. Take what you think adds value, say “thank you” to the rest and move ahead with your plan.”
“Create a route plan, and stick to it at all times on your journey. Every time you are faced with an opportunity, think if it will help you in moving forward on your plan. If it does, jump at it. If it doesn’t, learn to say NO.”