The woman who sweet-talked the Dragons
At the final of the JC's Dragons' Den-style event this week, Galia Orme impressed the judges with her unique range of healthy chocolate-making kits.
Sweet success: Galia Orme and her winning chocolate-making kits
A "chocoholic" from East Sussex was the winner of this year's Dragons' Den-style competition, organised by the JC and London Jewish Cultural Centre for the fourth consecutive year.
Galia Orme, a 44-year-old mother-of-two, was the majority favourite among the judges with her CHOC Chick Kits, a range of "healthy" raw chocolate-making kits. Set up by Mrs Orme in 2008, CHOC Chick Kits contain organic raw cacao and a selection of recipes to help people make chocolate that is free from dairy, refined sugars, hydrogenated fats, E numbers, stabilisers, gluten and additives. Cacao beans, cocao butter and a natural fruit sweetener are the only ingredients. The kits are already proving successful in the retail world. They are stocked in John Lewis Food Halls, Whole Foods Market, Holland and Barrett, the Haelan Centre, Planet Organic, Infinity Foods, plus various independent retailers in the UK and Europe. Mrs Orme is also in talks with Waitrose.
Argentinian-born, Mrs Orme sells 100 kits a week through the company's website, which attracts around 500 visitors a week.
The judging panel comprised Patsy Bloom, founder of Pet Plan; Zef Eisenberg, founder of Maximuscle; Nick Leslau, chairman of the Prestbury Group of Companies and director of Max Plc; Bernie Myers, the former managing director of NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd; Lisa Ronson, commercial director of Heron International and Candice Krieger, business editor of the JC.
In or out? The Dragons take turns to put their questions to the finalists before deciding on a winner
It was a tough call for the judges, who were also full of praise for fellow finalists, Rosie Norman (Millinery by Rosie Olivia) and Gabriel John (Tyger Paw sports-shoe cleaning tool). But it was CHOC Chick that the Dragons felt was the most commercially viable.
Nick Leslau was particularly impressed with the product. He said: "This is great. I absolutely love this. I am in awe of you and what you manage to achieve in a day because I think your product and brand is phenomenal and I am sure Waitrose will take this on.
"I think you need to build up your margins and I also think there are other places where you can sell your premium-priced goods."
Zef Eisenberg loved the taste of the chocolate. He said: "It's fantastic. It melted in my mouth. As someone who has spent years on the confectionery side with bars and dark chocolate I was very impressed with the quality of the cacao you have selected." Candice Krieger praised the "brilliant" website while Lisa Ronson said it was "fun" and that she liked the CHOC Chick name. Mrs Bloom was impressed with Mrs Orme's business acumen and Mr Myers enjoyed the presentation, which incorporated a cooking demonstration.
Mrs Orme lived in Canada, the US and Israel before settling in the UK in 2002. She has completed two law degrees and has a background in marketing but is passionate about chocolate. So passionate that she spent years devising recipes.
She discovered a quick and easy way of making healthy natural chocolate as an alternative to commercially-produced varieties. Her results proved so popular with friends and family that she decided to set up a company to enable people to make the chocolate, which contains 100 per cent cacao sourced from Ecuador, themselves.
She said: "It was great to hear the judges' feedback, particularly Nick and Zef's comments. They seemed really excited by the product and I am so pleased that all the judges enjoyed the chocolate.
"I am delighted to have won. It is great recognition for the company."
Mrs Orme, who lives in Peacehaven, is alwayscoming up with new recipes, which include salt, chilli and cardamom. She said: "I love chocolate so much. It's a treat you can enjoy without any of the guilt. Anyone can be a chocolatier."
She has invested around £15,000 into the business, which is on target to achieve revenues of £40,000 this year. The kits retail at £12.99 and £26.99, depending on size and there is also the option to buy the ingredients separately.
Mrs Orme is now seeking around £100,000 to expand the business. She wants to introduce a children's range and is looking to license the product in Latin America. She also hopes to develop the CHOC Chick Party division.
"I would like to speak to Zef Eisenberg again as he has so much retail experience. Everything I have done so far has been on my own so any retail contacts would be great. I think the business has huge potential both in the UK and internationally. Now I need some help so that I can make the most of all the opportunities."
LJCC deputy chief executive Louise Jacobs said: "This year's Dragons' Den proved yet again just how creative and inventive Jewish entrepreneurs can be. We applaud all the finalists who withstood the challenge of facing our experienced and occasionally daunting Dragons. What could be better than an entertaining evening that gives members of the community the opportunity to showcase their ingenuity and benefit from the expertise of some of our most successful business people."
See her entry at www.chocchick.com