Joyce Zengerink - Masaya Chocolate
Joyce Zengerink - Masaya Chocolate #1
Describe the idea:
The Chocolate Expedition aims to create a brand of happy chocolate involving smallholder cocoa farmers and local chocolate makers to establish a more fair and sustainable chocolate supply chain. The Masaya Moments are small pieces of chocolate in an attractive box on which the story behind the chocolate will be shared. Every Masaya Moment contributes directly to a better life of the farmer, since the transparency allows us to know who benefits.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I just graduated from the master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Lund University, which I completed straight after my bachelor in tourism management. As daughter of an entrepreneurial family I grew up with the entrepreneurial mindset. My parents ran their business for over 20 years and I have always been involved in work-related activities and this has always been my main job. Besides, I worked as communication and marketing employee at my university and I have a lot of international (work) experiences.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
The main focus will be on building relations with the suppliers and establishing sales channels in the Netherlands. Over the last weeks, we got a better understanding of the supply chain and the main challenge is to overcome the obstacles in the supply chain and to get a first prototype of the product so we can try to sell this. Another focus will be on marketing and creating a brand.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
I hope to have a prototype to show by the end of the period of Leapfrogs and to conduct market research, both with retailers as well as the end consumer. I would love to explore different sales channels and have meetings with people to understand the market better. The biggest challenge is still to conclude and figure out if the whole idea is feasible and if not how to adapt the plan. My ultimate goal is to create the largest impact for people as possible.
Tell us what you have done on your projects so far during the Leapfrogs time:
We did a lot of market research, a thorough competitor analysis, cost calculations and established a better relationship with the suppliers. The cost calculations are extremely important, since this is one of the most crucial factors when it come to the buying decision of the consumer. On the other hand, it was absolutely necessary to do the competitor analysis very carefully, since the chocolate market is rather full, with many big players on the market. We got a better understanding of the market as a whole.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
While doing all the research, talking to both retailers and the end consumer and the results of the competitor analysis, a problem occurred. Everyone loved the idea and the chocolate, and especially the story behind this. However, when we asked them what they would pay, they all said “not more than about €4”. But after our calculations, we realized we couldn’t produce and sell the chocolate for less than €6,50 with the current suppliers. We found another supplier in Ghana who could produce for less, but in that case the core idea of being able to share the story of the farmer would disappear.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
Since this problem occurred, we as a team have decided this idea is not feasible at this moment. On the one hand, the customer is not ready for such a product and the price yet and on the other hand, we do not have enough experiences to be able to fight against the huge players in the chocolate market. However, I’m busy working on another idea, which I will pursue from now on.
How did you experience the three months?
It has been an interesting and meaningful journey, especially figuring out what I would like to do myself and to experience Masaya Chocolate did not work out the way I imagined it to be. However, I got the chance to continue with a business plan I worked on during the Master program, but this time not in Europe, but in Zambia! I will try to start a shared commercial kitchen in Lusaka to facilitate professional equipment to local food entrepreneurs and support them in starting and growing their business.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
I found it quite hard to figure out what the best way to go is. I doubted a lot about what to do and how to continue with my ideas, but because of Leapfrogs I had a bit more financial freedom to just do what felt good instead of worrying about money and that’s why I will go to Zambia in 2 weeks. Now I can take the time to explore the opportunities to start this business there and to follow my dream to start a social enterprise and help entrepreneurs who are not so privileged in Africa.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
Not really. I expected to do more and deeper marker research for Masaya Chocolate. However, after extensive market research and a competitor analysis, we had to conclude it was not doable to continue. I was in touch with a local entrepreneur in Zambia already, and at some point all puzzle pieces fell together and I decided to continue with this business idea. I will go to Zambia for 3 months to work on the idea together with my local business partner and we will try to get funding and apply for grants to proceed the idea and create impact for Zambian entrepreneurs!
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Just keep looking for new opportunities and just do it. Because of the Leapfrogs scholarship I decided to follow my heart and to take the time to explore the opportunities to start a social enterprise, since that is what I really want. Otherwise I would have looked for a job and postponed the whole adventure. I learned from this that it is better to just go for it and follow your dreams.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
Don’t overthink. I noticed that I had the tendency to overthink everything and this was killing for the idea. I almost decided not to go to Zambia, just because I had so many reasons why the idea could fail. I learned not to listen to this and to think: everything is possible as long as you give it a try. Pivoting your ideas or plans is always an option, but only if you’ve tried it. You can better regret the things you did, than the things you didn’t try!