Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in chocolates but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeremy Burnich, Co-Founder of Oodaalolly Chocolate, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Ostensibly, our business is making chocolate. But I think the "business" is the marketing, package design, and community development—all the stuff that goes on around the enjoyment of making chocolate. Our customer is inquisitive. They ask questions and are interested in our answers. A non-Filipino might ask what calamansi is, and it's fun teaching them something about the Philippines' national citrus fruit. Someone with Filipino roots might see our chocolate balut and do a double-take before asking about it. They also tend to stick around because once they've experienced our chocolate and understand what goes into making it, they appreciate what we are doing. It goes both ways. The more we learn about our individual customers, the more we appreciate them, too.

Tell us about yourself

There's not much to tell. I've done a good amount of things and learned a lot along the way, but I am constantly amazed by all the stuff I don't know. And not things like metallurgy or particle physics, I mean just surface-level things—like how do you make chocolate? A few years ago, I didn't have a clue about what goes into making a bar of chocolate. But now I do. It's hard work by everyone involved, from planting and harvesting to fermenting and shipping to roasting and winnowing. And it's only after all those hands have been involved that actual chocolate-making can begin. Seeing people actually enjoying the product — appreciating all that had to happen to make it possible for that one bar of chocolate to be in her hand, is gratifying. It's also irritating when people snarkily compare our chocolate to something 1/5 to 1/10 of the price.

As for motivation, sometimes it's just the routine that keeps me going. There are days when you want to quit, and sometimes there are several days in a row like that, and you have internal conversations about why you should throw in the towel and that going on is crazy. And then something happens; it could be a small thing like a genuine smile or some kind of exciting recognition, and you feel crazy for doubting yourself. It's a very strange thing.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Not quitting.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Having to let go. I micromanage more than I should.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Sometimes it's a sprint. Sometimes things happen, and you're all running faster than you want. Sometimes it's a marathon. Things are still happening, not as exciting, but you still have to pay attention. It's here that things can creep up and eventually cause you to have to sprint.
  2. It's OK to fail. It sucks, and no one wants to talk about failure, but new things often fail.
  3. There's hardly ever an easy fix. It's mostly hard work and grinding and a bit of luck.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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