Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic Entrepreneurs - Nick LaCave/Chocomize

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Olympic achievement: Competing in men's rowing, 2012

Making his Olympic debut this year, Nick LaCava is one of three co-founders of Chocomize, a custom chocolate bar company.

With college buddies Eric Heinbockel and Fabian Kaempfer, LaCava launched the company in 2009, when the three couldn't find jobs after graduation. He continued to train for rowing while starting the business, unsure if the Olympics would ever be within reach.

"Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a hard training session is go to work, but I always enjoyed my time at Chocomize, and it gave me a way to take my mind off of rowing," he said.

The Chocomize trio saw opportunity in the candy business, particularly one that was customized to customers' tastes.

The problem? "We didn't know anything about making chocolate--although I have a notorious sweet tooth--but we figured it out pretty quickly and got things up and running in a short period of time," he said.

With Chocomize, customers can add up to five different toppings to their milk, dark or white chocolate. The toppings include marshmallows, cayenne pepper, gummy bears and even crystallized rose petals. And the possible combinations are (almost) endless: More than 300 million, to be exact.

But last year, LaCava made a tough decision to leave Chocomize in order to focus on training for the games. "It was a hard choice because making the Olympics was never a guarantee and things were going really well at Chocomize," he said. "Making the Olympics was something that I had been dreaming [about] and working [toward] for many years and I felt that if I didn't give it 100% of my focus I would regret it the rest of my life."

LaCava's team of four didn't medal in London, but they placed 8th overall and he was able to live out his Olympic dream.

Meanwhile, Chocomize continues on its path of success. The business increased its sales by almost 100% between 2010 and 2011, Kaempfer said.

[Via - CNNMoney.Com]

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