Having spent years making chocolate as a hobby, Russell Pullan finally plucked up the courage to start his own business in 2008.
Since then, his firm – Fifth Dimension Chocolates – has won global recognition, fusing quality produce with innovative flavouring to make high-end, luxury chocolates.
Sampling some for ourselves at the launch of Small Business Saturday 2016 in London, Business Advice caught up with Pullan to find out where he’ll take the business next.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
We are Fifth Dimension Chocolates, founded by Russell Pullan and Albert Chau. In a nutshell, we combine classic and unusual flavours, inspired by our passion for food and travel, with premium fine-flavour single-origin cocoa, to create a sensory experience in luxury fine chocolates.
(2) How long have you been around for?
We began selling chocolates online in October 2013.
(3) How do you make money?
We sell via our ecommerce platform as well as providing chocolates to Michelin star restaurants and small delicatessens.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
Our business is an extension of ourselves. It has our soul at its heart. We are more than just about making chocolates as all our products reflect something about us, from our travels, experiences, and eating in many places around the world. We want everyone to experience some of our adventures in our chocolates, whilst bringing back some of their own memories of places they have been through taste.
We only use fine flavour, single origin chocolate, which accounts for approximately 7 to ten per cent of the world’s cocoa production.
We are passionate about learning about where our cocoa comes from and how its production impacts farmers and the environment around them. We have been to visit some of the farmers and learn about the programmes in place for sustainable cocoa production creating a product where everyone benefits from its production.
The company’s story is one of our main selling points, and when people buy our products they are not just buying a fine chocolate they are also buying a piece of us and joining us on our chocolate journey.
Along the way we have won many awards including, International Chocolate World awards, Academy of Chocolate and Great Taste awards – all respected throughout the country and the world.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
Having the confidence that I had a product worth selling to begin with. For many years I was making chocolate as a hobby and friends kept saying I should sell them. After doing some research and looking at the market, I quickly discovered that there were few high end luxury chocolatiers out there and there was room for more in the market.
Also, having the support of organisations such as Enterprise Nation who give lots of support and to help you learn about many aspects of running a business.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
In 2015 we won an award in the World Final at the International Chocolate Awards 2015, with a bronze award in the “Dark Chocolate Enrobed Caramels” category, for our mango passion fruit caramel. This just shows that with passion you can achieve high standards in a short space of time. To achieve this in two years was such a confidence booster too.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Not had any major setbacks, however, one thing that has kept us back at times is relying on other companies to work to timelines and finish projects on time. We have found you have to keep on top of them and manage them yourselves, otherwise your own deadlines will not be met
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
In five years’ time my business will still be expanding. I will have a greater presence on the high street and employing a few people, giving myself more time to grow the business.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
When planning ahead and estimating how much time it will take to start a business, multiply that time by three. Everything always takes much longer than you imagine.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
Anyone starting a business from their passion and making it a success. A prime example of this is Innocent drinks. Two guys selling drinks at a music festival, asking the public if they should give up their day job and make smoothies. Everyone said “yes” and the rest is history. Also, while the company has grown they have kept that personal feel, giving a human element to everything they do, creating a great relationship with their customers.
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