What started as a hobby of making chocolates has become a successful business model seven years down the line for young entrepreneur Rashmi Vaswani.
Whenever Rashmi got home in Bengaluru during her breaks while pursuing her Masters at IMI, New Delhi, she used to indulge in chocolate-making. Apart from the fact that she enjoyed it to the core, her dad’s sweet tooth ensured that he patronised her and she had to make more to keep him happy.
Soon after she finished her studies, she got a 9-5 job offer in a financial consulting firm. She got bored in three months flat and decided to get back and concentrate on her chocolate-making instead. Around Diwali, they put up a small stall at an exhibition and people really liked their chocolates. “One box was delivered to a corporate and they liked it so much that we got our first corporate order from them for a good 200 boxes,” recalls this 33-year-old entrepreneur, the Managing Partner of Rage Chocolatier.
Gifting chocolates is indeed the fad among corporate now who are tired of gifting sweets or dry fruit during festive occasions. “They usually look out for unique and customized gifts with longer shelf life,” says Rashmi, stating that this huge gap between regular chocolate bars and foreign chocolates gave her the idea to take the plunge into fancy chocolate-making.
All in the family
Rashmi’s sister, who was studying Law when Rashmi was pursuing her Management, used to help her with chocolate-making.
“We had never ever dreamt of making it big one day. Today we have entered the retail sector of the segment,” says Rashmi who was always motivated by the fact that underprivileged children seldom get to have the very basic thing that all kids love – chocolates.
Today, whenever someone mentions an orphanage or a children’s shelter, Rashmi and her team make sure they pay a visit to hand out chocolates to them.
Their customisation of chocolate bars is their USP – they come with fun messages, look like greeting cards. “Often, people have mistaken them for greeting cards too, only to be surprised to see a chocolate bar inside the wrapper,” says an amused entrepreneur.
Today, Rage Chocolatier has its own boutique store on Residency Road, one of Bengaluru’s prime localities. Everything is made fresh at the store there. It is a 12-member team at the company now.
“Earlier, I only used to make chocolates and be happy about it but now I have to delegate work to managers and assign work to my team, it’s a big responsibility,” says Rashmi. From that, it has now become a partnership firm in the family, with her parents and two siblings being the other partners.
“I didn’t have any ambition when I started off. Now that there is a business model in place, it is challenging,” confesses Rashmi. The moment they are out with an idea in the market, there is every chance of it getting copied. She admits that she took things really slowly at first and it expanded naturally over the years.
“Earlier, from every mould to each piece of chocolate, everything was under my control but now no more. Each one has individual responsibilities and that I think has made a huge difference for me,” she says. With a nod from the Karnataka State Tourism department, they have now started making chocolates as souvenir items too. Popular monuments and Karnataka’s places of pride have made way to the chocolate wrappers and they are being marked at the international airport. It’s a rather innovative way of promoting tourism.
Having opened their store very recently, Rashmi doesn’t want to expand immediately but there are plans, she admits. “A kid walking in to our store and getting his face smeared with chocolate certainly is my wow moment. Alongside is the pressure to deliver on time, now that the business has grown quite substantially,” says Rashmi. This entrepreneur says that she is finally making good use of her Management degree.
Her desire to go places is Rashmi’s biggest motivation. Given that there is a lot of scope and people have started recognising her as the person behind Rage Chocolatier, she feels thrilled.
“After all, it’s chocolate and who would say no to a nice, bar of chocolate,” Rashmi quips.
Her advice to all who dream to be entrepreneurs is to start small and tread carefully. “Never compromise on the product quality. Test the market and then slowly grow. If you have an idea, believe in it. Remember, no guts, no glory,” she signs off.