There’s no better time to share a new Behind the Biz interview than at the start of a fresh new week. I hope today’s interview fills you with motivation for the week and month ahead.
Today I’m chatting with Max Scotford, the founder of Bullion Chocolate – single origin, craft chocolate from bean to bar.
Did you enjoy today’s interview? If so, you can help Max to continue growing his business by popping over to Voom 2018 and voting to give them a shot at pitching to Sir Richard Branson.
Where did the inspiration for Bullion come from?
I’ve always had a passion for food, which led me on to study catering at college. During my time there I developed a real interest in chocolate, and over the years I further educated myself on chocolate – researching how it was made, the incredible history and the distinct flavour notes derived from each single origin. As I became more immersed and making it at home, I realised there was only a handful of people in the UK actually making chocolate this way and decided to turn my passion into a dream business.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
It’s a combination of a few things but the core element is what a bar of Bullion represents, which showed many parallels for the vision I had for the chocolate I was making: Pure, Quality and Valuable.
My focus is to treat each of the origins with the utmost respect, championing the region that the beans have been grown and highlighting the distinct nuances within each of our bars. Eventually I would love to see craft chocolate to be considered on the same level to that of a fine wine.
Another inspiration was actually the ancient Maya Indians of Central America. They valued cocoa beans more than gold, using them as a form of currency – which influenced our decision on the branding / name of the business.
What did you do before founding Bullion?
After catering college, I decided to further my education at university. Although food and drink is a huge passion, on the completion of my degree I decided to work in sales and marketing for a web development agency. This allowed me to immerse myself in new challenges and gain vital experience in how to sell a product. I do really think the combination of the background in food, with the sales and business experience were key aspects of helping me shape the vision for Bullion and how I was going to pursue it.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
100% – From an early age I’ve always been keen to develop ideas and build on them. It’s hard for me to have a conversation without talking about business / dreams – my friends and family all to well know that! It’s feels natural and the right thing to do.
How did you approach your first stockist?
My mentor actually introduced me to one of his clients who owns a cafe. It all happened very organically in the early stages, through word of mouth. Bean to bar chocolate tastes very very different to your everyday chocolate, so it only took a bite of our bars for potential retailers to realise this was something special.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Because of the steps involved in making small-batch chocolate from bean to bar, the actual production has proved challenging. It takes a lot of man hours to produce and meticulous attention to detail in every step of the process. It really is a labour of love but we hope the craftsmanship shows in the finished product.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
It’s been a really exciting journey so far, but one of the main highlights was being recognised by the Academy of Chocolate. We won a Silver and Bronze at the annual awards which really opened a lot of doors for us – placing our bars up there with some of the best in the world.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
As a company, we really need to communicate why our bars are different to the rest of the confectionary industry. With only a handful of people actually crafting chocolate from the bean in the UK, we use social media to educate and inform people about our manufacturing processes. Instagram has been integral to this because it’s so visual, but I’d say each platform plays a part.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Find a mentor. Your local council may provide business support for you. If you’re a graduate, many universities offer support too. You really need someone that understands your vision and can point you in the right direction.
Where do you hope to take your business in 2018?
I’m aiming to scale the business to a new facility that will enable us to increase production – allowing us to export.
Don’t forget to vote for Bullion in VOOM 2018 and give them the chance to pitch to Sir Richard Branson.
I hope that you all feel truly inspired after reading this interview, I know I do. Just like Max it’s rare I can have a conversation without talking about business. It would be fab to get him on the PGT Biz & Motivation podcast. I love people who are passionate and motivated to create something special and Max is doing just that.
I want to say a big thank you to Max for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I really enjoyed hearing about his business journey and wish him the best of luck in the future. I’ve already popped over to VOOM 2018 and hit VOTE – there’s also a fab video on there showing just what it takes to make a bar of Bullion.Find me here: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook