(Original Press from BostonVoyager.com found here)
Today we’d like to introduce you to Hector Camargo.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Hector. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I make balls. Hot Chocolate Balls.
Hot Chocolate Balls are a unique confection made from couverture chocolate that are melted into milk to create the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted.
But it didn’t start out this way.
ChocolatesU started with my college friends from MIT (myself and Becky Kuehn) and Wellesley (Amy Camargo, my wife) many years after graduating and getting degree appropriate jobs. Our shared love of science, food, and especially chocolate lead us to creating an artisanal “make-your-own-chocolates” company.
Our idea was to teach you and your friends how to make your own gourmet truffles and confections in the comfort of your own home. Add a little wine, custom packaging, and it’s a party!
Over time the business evolved where we started to make the chocolates for our customers, selling first at farmer’s markets and then graduating to selling online and at artisan fairs and Christmas Expos.
Chocolate confections can be ubiquitous. Our chocolates were all about custom and new riffs on old favorites. We experimented with unique flavors, custom molds, and utilized unusual equipment (my favorites were the whip cream dispenser and the vacuum chamber).
We stumbled on the idea for Hot Chocolate Balls as part of our mad scientist tinkering with chocolate. We started to sell them along with our other creations.
It completely took over.
We now make Hot Chocolate Balls exclusively and our customers love them!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We started this business from scratch, completely self-funded. We are also not chocolatiers by training; we are engineers and scientists. This was a completely new world to us.
It was difficult the first couple of years. We had difficulties finding gigs and customers. People loved the idea of making their own chocolates, but honestly preferred for us to simply make chocolates for them.
Changing your whole business model is scary, even scarier is to go all in on a single unproven product. You wonder, is this a one-hit wonder? Do I really want to put all my time an energy on making this one thing?
It’s a cliché to speak about leaps of faith, but honestly, it feels like I’ve done it so much that the chasm and I are now old friends.
Please tell us about ChocolatesU.
We are the creators of Hot Chocolate Balls (HCBs). They are a blend of couverture chocolate, honey, cocoa powder, and other flavors to create an individually portioned confection that is melted into milk (or milk substitute) to create the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had.
This is our own invention, you won’t find anything out there like our product.
We carry a variety of chocolates types and flavors. For the holidays, we sell “lumps of coal” where the balls are shaped to look like lumps of coal and wrapped in black foil.
In the tech world when a product is created that you can build your entire company around they call it a “unicorn”. This is our unicorn! It’s incredible to walk into a craft show or an Expo and to have people just floored by something we created. It is the most amazing feeling.
I love our product. Not only do I really believe it is the best hot chocolate anywhere, it is also beautiful.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
It was Christmas, I was probably 4 or 5 at the time. Star Wars had come out that year and I was obsessed with the movie. Christmas morning came and I woke up before anyone else to see what Santa had brought me. I walked out to the living room towards our tree, but stopped short.
In front of me, radiating out from the center were Star Wars actions figures, all standing at attention inside their packages!
It was like my own personal little army.
It was amazing, I just stood there, stunned.
- 6 Hot Chocolate Balls (sleeves) – $15
- “Lumps of Coal”, 3 to a bag (Seasonal) – $8