Owner of The Hot Chocolatier Wendy Buckner said she knows how difficult it is to start a business, so when two high school students and budding entrepreneurs came to her for help with their venture, she was happy to help, even on short notice.
“I really like them,” she said of D'Angelo Foster and Derelle Roshell, who have started a business called GOTU Chocolate.
Foster confessed he initially just wanted the free pizza offered at the meetings.
LAUNCH is raising money through Causeway, which is a locally run online platform that connects budding civic entrepreneurs with community members who have resources to help them. LAUNCH is raising money to fund a "program [that] teaches basic business concepts to students throughout a semester." Foster speaks in a video about his experience and transformation. To watch or for more information, click here.
But soon, he was brainstorming ideas in class.
The first idea that popped into Foster's head was Arabic soup, which would be a foreign language alphabet soup that consumers could spell out words in another language in, he said.
But soup didn’t seem like the best product, so Foster changed the idea to chocolate.
He named the business GOTU Chocolate. The idea is to have chocolate with foreign phrases imprinted on it and use ingredients from different parts of the world.
D + J have helped them design the wrappers, and the teens hope to work more with The Hot Chocolatier because it is almost time to ramp up production, Foster said.
“The demand has become so high—so many people want the bar now—so now we have to go ahead and start really producing,” Foster said.
“Build Me a World”
Roshell said he the demand was there even before the duo appeared in a locally made documentary about Howard, called “Build Me a World.”
Buckner made 80 chocolate samples for the teens to give out at the premiere of the movie last week, which brought hundreds to the Tivoli.
They had planned to save some to distribute outside the premiere, but they only managed to get out with two left.
Foster and Roshell said they hope Buckner will help them when they are ready to produce, and she said she’s open to that.
They think they can make and wrap the bars for $1.25, and they have about $4,000 of funding left, which came from LAUNCH leaders and investors at the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund.
They hope they can start production after they find a printer and hope to sell at the Chattanooga Market, initially.
The duo said the product is a high-quality candy bar that they eventually want in specialty stores, such as Greenlife or Starbucks.
Even though many had read about Foster and Roshell before the movie, the publicity didn’t hurt, and it fuels their determination, they said.
Foster has turned his life around since creating this project. He had been expelled from school for possession and distribution of marijuana and hydrocodone.
But he knows he can’t work with some of Chattanooga’s top leaders and be involved in drugs, he said. He said this experience has put him on a different path in life.
And now that they’ve been in the movie, and more and more people know about them and are supporting them, they have a “name to live up to,” Roshell said.
“It’s going to make us work harder and think smarter about decisions in life,” Roshell said. “That also shows people that there can be change in anybody,” he said, responding to the discussion about Foster’s about-face.