Charlotte Harding finds out from one entrepreneur how he has built up his business empire.
What were you doing when you were nine or ten years old? Climbing trees, running around the playground or even pretending to play shop?
Chances are you hadn’t set up your own business.
“We will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this year,” explains 19-year-old Brocks Chocs CEO Danish Amin.
“It is crazy to think it has been going for that long.”
What initially started as a fundraising venture selling and making chocolate with profits donated to children’s charity NSPCC, has since grown to get a royal seal of approval from Princess Anne.
Spotting a chance for a business venture aged 11, Danesh undertook a chocolatier course and at 13 was given the title of youngest chocolatier by Belgian chocolate-maker Callebaut.
A year after launching the idea was very small scale offering chocolate orders for private parties, business promotional giveaways and wedding favours.
Although some may think having a young CEO would have been a selling point Danesh took a different approach.
“I thought at first it would be hard to be taken seriously so I didn’t put my face to the business,” he says.
“Sometimes consumers or clients don’t feel they can trust the business if they know you are a teenager so you have to be careful,
“I have seen so many where the person did do it and it failed. So I tried to build it up as much as I could.
“I know it was hard when I started to employ staff and their parents were worried about job security for a business where they didn’t know if the person running it knows what they are doing, especially when they are 16.”
Originally from Brockham, Surrey, Danesh is currently studying accounting and finance at University of Chichester. He chose the university as he loved the location and the campus.
“One of my passions is to help other start-ups and young entrepreneurs, which is why I wanted to do a finance degree,” smiles Danesh.
“I want to help businesses with acquisitions and I felt this degree would be the best way to do this.
“As I have been through the process myself I know how difficult it can be to start and I want to be able to help others.”
Although involved with other ventures he runs and helping start-ups Danesh is still heavily involved with Brocks Chocs.
“I do all the product testing,” he explains.
“We have a lot of industry professionals we work with as Nestle is just down the road but I really like to be involved with it all.”
The business has three sites; one in France which is a partnership and handles preparing the beans, a large manufacturing plant in Banbury and Danesh has his own place in Brockham where he still makes a lot of the wedding favours and bespoke orders.
“That’s how I started with the bespoke pieces and it grew from there,” he reveals.
“The business grew a lot through word of mouth and recommendations.
“Selfridges got in touch with us through a recommendation from someone else and then I decided to go to Harrods to try and get us in there.”
As for the royal visit from Princess Anne that came from his local council putting his name forward.
“It took three years for it to be cleared,” says Danesh.
“I had no idea my name had been put forward, until the new year and the visit was in the February.
“It was like planning a major event and at the time I was doing my exams at university so had to head back to Brockham in time for the visit.
“I was thrilled to meet her though.”
Danesh’s hopes for the future is for the business to expand even more and he is always on the lookout for new and interesting flavours to add to his current range, which includes milk chocolate and chilli, milk chocolate and honey, and milk and dark with cappuccino.
Looking at his career to date, and considering he is still only 19, the future certainly looks sweet for this young entrepreneur.
For more information on Brocks Chocs, visit www.brockschocs.co.uk
This first featured in the March edition of etc Magazine, pick up your copy now.