Ocho ready to roll after $2m raised in 32 hours

 
The money is in and now the hard work begins, says the man behind the expansion of the Otago Chocolate Company.
 

It took less than two days (32 hours) for the "Own the Factory'' PledgeMe campaign to raise the $2 million it wanted to buy out and expand the operations of the Otago Chocolate Factory (Ocho).

Campaign head Jim O'Malley said the company was no longer theoretical and the hard work of running a business would now start.

"We've now got to demonstrate that this type of funding is viable, by being viable.

"I'm looking forward to the next challenge for us, which is to take this money and show it's enough to get started.''

There had already been preliminary discussion with Foodstuffs (New World, Four Square and Pak'n Save) about supplying the supermarket giant, but they were very early discussions, Mr O'Malley said.

The success of the campaign was due to the combination of the excitement around the chocolate and the social movement that started with the campaign to buy parts of the Cadbury factory, he said.

The average pledge was about $700.

For the first year, the company focus would be on increasing production. Once that had been achieved, a tourism component with factory tours and chocolate tastings would be developed at a not-yet-finalised Steamer Basin location.

The third phase of the company would be to expand into overseas markets, which would be when the company really started to grow, he said.

"In that regard, we went to the Cadbury workers job fair and took contact information with the idea we would be going back to those people as we expand.''

Ocho founder Liz Rowe, who will be the general manager of the expanded company, said the first task would be ordering new chocolate-making equipment from Italy.

"New equipment and a larger facility will enable us to expand our production from 90kg of chocolate a week to up to a maximum of 200kg a day,'' she said.

Once the money was released by PledgeMe, equipment would be ordered and shipped to New Zealand by early next year.

All going to plan, the factory would be commissioned in late June and the first orders sent out by August.

PledgeMe co-founder Anna Guenther said the campaign was the quickest in the site's history to reach the $2million mark. The previous record-holder was Wellington brewery ParrotDog, which reached the goal in 47 hours.

It also had the greatest number of individual pledges, but its minimum investment of $100 was lower than the usual $500, Ms Guenther said.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

 

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