Six years after he started The Chocolate Man’s Production, Savio Monteiro is now all set to take his chocolate ideas beyond Goan shores
By Jason Soares | B&C
The adage ‘looks could be deceptive’ suits Savio Monteiro very well. Although he is regarded for his immense culinary skills, this modest looking 36-year-old chef can impress anyone with his business acumen.
After completing hotel management from IHM, Savio worked his way up the culinary ladder over the course of his 12-year professional life that spanned across Goa, Australia and UK and gained valuable experience in different types of set-ups that included mass manufacturing and fine dining. In doing so, he ultimately reached his career’s pinnacle as an executive pastry chef.
So why did he choose the entrepreneurial route? “The growing demand for healthy bakery products with great taste and enduring shelf life were the propellers to my transformation. I decided to use the benefit of my exposure and knowledge by adopting modern methods of cooking and baking to create healthier options in desserts and breads,” he divulges.
When asked why he chose Goa when he had the opportunity to do something in Australia or the UK, he replies with a broad smile, “Nothing could have been better than my home town Goa. I had knowledge about the local market and how to go about my investments as I was born and brought up here.”
As Savio’s forte happens to be chocolate, he realised that Goa was lacking a niche market for quality chocolate products. With a seed investment of 10-15 lakh rupees that was funded from his personal earnings, parents’ help and a EDC loan, Savio set up a manufacturing unit at his native place in Parra and later opened an outlet at Mapusa in 2009.
“The intention was to create two brands. The cake shop module that opened in Mapusa was like a takeaway outlet. The USP was chocolate as I had specialised in it. So we got into the business of making a variety of chocolates like soft centres and cakes,” informs Savio.
The Mapusa outlet garnered a good response. But Savio thought of extending the concept further. As you know chocolate goes well with coffee, he says. Beverage chains have become popular for such concepts but they offer coffee as their main product. So he introduced the coffee shop module and outsourced the technical aspect for making coffee from an Italian coffee company.
He then launched a boutique store at his father’s ancestral property in Candolim by the end of 2009 and named it Guanaja after an island in the Caribbean that is known for the best coco beans in the world. In 2010, he extended Guanaja to a quick service restaurant and bar with an attached coffee shop that would serve drinks, food and alcohol.
In 2010, he opened another outlet in Panaji. By the end of that year, a fourth outlet opened at Inox courtyard. The idea behind the Inox outlet was to brand the company and target the niche market.
“The response was good, and we also got franchise inquiries. That led us to have a blueprint and create a roadmap to work out master franchises. There are plans to set up such franchises in Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai,” he reveals.
A pioneering concept that Savio introduced was the ‘chocolate fountain’. It was procured from UK and caught on very well in the Goan market, says Savio. A chocolate fountain enhances any party set up, be it a birthday, a marriage or just a get together as it is an eye catcher and a big hit.
Although, the Mapusa and Panaji stores were subsequently closed, The Chocolate Man’s Production today engages in a lot of B2B sales and supplies to restaurants, hotels, wedding venues, hotels, birthdays and parties. It has set up counters in resorts and hotels where it sells its products and also supplies snacks, wedding cakes and has joined hands with event venues and caterers.
The company has over 100 products on offer. The recipes for many of these exclusive items have been created by Savio himself. Some of its signature products are white chocolate in coconut jaggery fudge, soft-centred chocolate, muesli bars, sour kokum and paan flavoured chocolate. It specialises in free-form foods – that contain no gluten, dairy, lactose, etc – and caters to diet and health conscious customers as well.
According to Savio, the bakery industry is profitable and growing. “We have had 1 ½ year breakeven point for retail/outlet investment, and a breakeven operational cost that includes labour and rent of 6 months. There has been gradual progress in revenues every year since inception,” he points out.
Savio also emphasises that variable overheads that include wastages should be kept to the least to make profits as fixed overheads like power, labour and water cannot be avoided. So also is proper utilisation of materials.
After completing six successful years in the business, Savio has now set his sights on taking his brand a notch higher and has lined up a host of plans to expand The Chocolate’s Man Production, including direct online sales. “We are looking to concentrate on the local market and create small outlets on the lines of the cake shop module. We are also thinking of expanding the restaurant-cum-bar module and increasing our B2B sales.”