Hi all, As I experiment with learning how to make chocolate, I'm also crunching numbers and pushing ideas around on how to make a successful start with selling my bean-to-bar chocolate. I would love to hear from others who have made a successful go of it when starting from zero. In my state I can get a homestead license waiver and sell up to 20k from my home kitchen, but with this waiver it can only be sold direct to consumer, not to retail, other businesses, or online. I'm afraid this small scale wouldn't reach the market that I would hope to find a niche in, or that is needed for sustainability. My instinct tells me I should try to to sell commercial right from the start. But that's a steep investment, and probably just not possible for me. There aren't a lot of incubator/rental kitchens close enough to where i live to manage the chocolate process in a temporary commercial kitchen (I would have to commute too far) - so setting up my own would be imperative.
Can others share tiny startup stories and ideas? One strategy that I am considering is to first grow the brand and "chocolate" experience locally via farmers' markets and other direct tasting opportunities (selling direct to consumer only), and follow that with a Kickstarter to raise funds for equipment and the transition to commercial kitchen status. The local and regional brand awareness would theoretically contribute to a more successful Kickstarter process.
I'm fully aware of the advice others have shared here in the past: "to be successful one must have 20k or 50k or (insert number here) right off the bat".... not an option for me.