Based in New Delhi Surbhi Singhania founded ChocoWishes in 2017 from her home kitchen. It is now being incubated as part of the NSRCEL Women Startup Program 3.0, which is sponsored by Goldman Sachs and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.
Chocolate is known to make the world go round. Surbhi Singhania’s world revolves around chocolate.
Her father was an early distributor of international chocolate brands in India and owned a chocolate warehouse. Surbhi made sure she accompanied him when he set up stalls at school fetes and university canteens.
“I made new friends over a piece of chocolate every time I changed schools.” “I had the best desserts in my lunchbox, and nothing made me happier than sharing them with my friends,” she says.
Surbhi, now 28, has found a new way to pursue her passion after 20 years. She is the proud owner of ChocoWishes, a boutique chocolaterie in New Delhi that specialises in high-quality artisanal chocolates and healthy bakes.
Chocolate is equated with joy
“I learned the intricacies of baking from my family’s ladies—my mother and aunts—and an in-depth understanding of chocolate flavours and edible customisation from my father,” she says.
Surbhi worked full-time as a business strategy consultant after graduation and also began moonlighting as an entrepreneur, making chocolates and cakes.
Surbhi laughs as she recalls her experiences starting out in her home kitchen.
She recalls an amusing incident, “There was a common fridge for the household food and my bakes.” Most of the bakes were usually made on my sanitised dining table, baked in the kitchen oven, and stored in the fridge. One of my orders included’special and naughty’ bachelor and bachelorette cupcakes that I had to keep hidden from my parents! In retrospect, I should have been compensated more for those orders.”
As she experimented in her home kitchen, she realised how difficult it was to manage both.
“I felt I was equally adept at both. I enjoyed my work as well, but it had a negative impact on my health and work-life balance. That’s when I decided to take a risk and pursue my dream of becoming a chocolate entrepreneur. “I decided to give it a couple of years, and if the business didn’t work out, I’d still be employable with a good enough skill set,” she says.
Surbhi quit her full-time job in 2017 and converted the space above her house into a mini workshop where she could work on custom baking orders. She spent approximately Rs 2.5 lakh to put everything in place.
“I was a one-woman army back then,” she says, “but I had a lot of support from my parents for the initial orders.”
More than just a delicious venture
ChocoWishes’ product line consists of chocolates, cookies, brownies, and healthy bakes. Some of its signature products include custom-printed chocolates, whole-wheat baked churros, and Lazy Batter cookie dough.
“All of our delicious treats are eggless, artisanal, and handcrafted fresh in small batches,” Surbhi explains.
ChocoWishes’ products are available on the company’s website, as well as on Amazon and the sustainable goods platforms Brown Living and Awenest. Custom gifting solutions for corporates, weddings, and retail orders are also available. It focuses on reusable and sustainable packaging.
Surbhi’s chocolate business has come a long way since it began in her home kitchen. ChocoWishes continues to operate from Surbhi’s original workspace, which she claims is more than adequate for the time being. “Having said that,” she says, “we do have plans to expand and move to another space next year.”
ChocoWishes is a member of the Meta Boost Leaders Network, an exclusive community of passionate entrepreneurs and business owners who use Meta’s (formerly Facebook) suite of products to grow their businesses (such as Pages, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger).
ChocoWishes is also a Women Startup Program 3.0 incubatee and grant recipient at NSRCEL, the startup incubator of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), which is sponsored by Goldman Sachs and IIMB.
ChocoWishes’ B2B clients have included M&S India, Gulab, Ibis Hotels, IFF, Stonex, and Diamond Constellation, according to Surbhi. “Our average B2B ticket size is around Rs 35K, and Rs 2.5K for B2C clients.”
Making a positive social impact
Despite her small size, Surbhi aspires to be a strong advocate for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging in the food industry. She also wishes to make a social impact.
“We are collaborating with non-governmental organisations to provide skill development training sessions for women and will eventually hire prospective candidates from there,” she says.
ChocoWishes’ team consists of four full-time and three part-time female employees.
“We are entirely a woman-owned and operated business.” Chocolate-making skills can be applied in a variety of ways, including soap-making and candle-making. And teaching underprivileged women how to use these skills to earn a living is a dream,” Surbhi says.
She claims that the majority of ChocoWishes’ raw materials are sourced from local businesses.
“We’re attempting to work with as many women-owned businesses as possible for our packaging and other needs.”
Plans for the future
ChocoWishes’ founder says the company’s short-term goals are to strengthen manufacturing and expand its B2B clientele and online retail presence.
Long-term plans include expanding into offline retail, primarily through shelf space and collaborations. “For that, we need a strong manufacturing backbone that will allow us to scale from one retailer to many,” Surbhi concludes.