‘Rupali Samat digs into chocolates just as kids would on their first introduction to the world of chocolates’ – this in a nutshell defines Rupali, head of the marketing and business development section of her family business Choc Le.
Founded by her mother, Rupali moved on from the lure of a corporate career to give shape to her dream and this she does by spending most of her waking hours, innovating.
It is her undying passion for chocolates and the innate desire to create a legacy as a chocolatier that made Rupali successful.
Under her guidance, Choc Le today boasts of an unmatched team. The company has evolved as one of the largest chocolate manufacturers with the capacity to produce 250 kg of desserts and 800 kg of chocolates every day. Choc Le works closely with the Café and Restaurant industry pan India and has plans of expansion too.
A degree in entrepreneurship
She was working with Reliance Infra. But, Rupali always had her heart in entrepreneurship and decided to leave the professional word to follow her dream. Therefore, she pursued her MBA from Pune with a specialisation in entrepreneurship. Having seen her mother in the chocolate manufacturing business, Rupali grew up with an obvious interest towards this field.
Rupali’s mother learnt the fine art of chocolate making from Barry Callebaut, a popular name in chocolate manufacturing, and has passed on the interest to her daughter ever since Rupali was a child.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with chocolates as I have to confess my extreme fondness for them,” says this self-confessed chocolate lover. She joined Choc Le in 2011 and got in experienced technologists to build a professional team.
“As children, all of us are very fond of imported chocolates and I was no different. The question that came to my mind was, can we replicate the trend,” says Rupali who is proud of her Make in India products. Though in essence they are modeled on the lines of the imported chocolates, Rupali has tweaked with the taste and thrown in a Masala Chai flavor, not to talk of the nutty ones. “India loves nuts and we have tried to keep the balance intact by mix and match one with the other. Almond and hazelnuts are much loved ingredients in the nutty-base chocolates we make,” says Rupali.
This chocopreneur was certain of one thing – that she did not want to pursue chocolate-making as a hobby – she wanted to take it up as a full time career by delving deeper into it.
The challenges of starting up
Starting up is not easy in India, Rupali learnt that very soon. “But yes as women and by virtue of being a women-centric venture, we did get a lot of support from our banker. There are schemes from which wannabe women entrepreneurs can benefit,” says Rupali. She sees her mentor in Parag Shah, a serial entrepreneur, and says she wants her venture expanding organically in the coming days.
From the very beginning, Rupali was clear that she did not want Choc Le to become a retail brand; however, she it wanted to grow as a chocolatier. Now, she wants to partner with more hotels with their existing portfolio of desserts. Very soon, the company is thinking of launching a few products to complement recipes of the chefs. Making it an e-commerce venture wherein people can log on to the homepage and order their share of lip-smacking chocolates, will however have to wait for now as Rupali is content with her company being in the offline mode.
Apart from restaurants and hotels, Choc Le does cater to a few individual orders, those which come through references but the idea is to restrict them to a minimum number.
As Rupali says, “This is the only place where I thought I would be one day and I am glad that it has turned out that way,” she signs off.