Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

The story of 23-year-old Oleg Guskov, who launched the MixVille website three years ago, is a continuation of the Toyota brand project about young and successful startups. The founder of the Workstation co-working, the creators of the VARENIE ORGANISM art group, photographers from the ThePhotoBooth project have already taken part in it. In an interview, Oleg spoke about spontaneous ideas that can lead you to success! After all, initially its resource allowed users to create their own chocolate with any taste. Today MixVille is a confectionery company whose products are sold in the most popular coffee shops in Moscow, and whose turnover is in the millions.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

1. Oleg, is it true that your business started with an unsuccessful search for chocolate for a friend?

Yes, I was looking for chocolate as a gift, I realized that the choice is very small: hazelnuts, almonds. And I wanted something unusual. Thus the business idea was born. We calculated and realized that we did not have money for a large factory, so we started by creating an online chocolate constructor.

Did a friend end up with chocolate from your production?

About a year later, yes.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

2. You say "we" - who is this?

We started with a partner. I was clear about my pros and cons. And I didn't try to be what I'm not. That is why, for bookkeeping and other things that were not interesting to me, I immediately called a person and gave him a share in the company, we work together to this day. I believe that if cool ideas are born to you not when you are sitting in the pose of a sage, but when you are driving in a car or having fun with friends, you don’t need to build yourself out of a person-system who neatly keeps a diary and always goes to bed in the same time. Organized and pedantic people, on the contrary, should not lead a wild life and read books on the development of creative thinking. In business, both are equally necessary.

Before creating MixVille, did you try to do business on something else?

Of course, there had to be something to eat. Initially, when I arrived in Moscow, there was simply not enough money, and I had to earn money. He was engaged in the resale of building materials, fruits.

Where did you come to Moscow from?

From Dnepropetrovsk, but before entering HSE, he studied for a year in Ryazan to take training courses.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

3. You entered HSE and started living in a hostel. Did your young business get in the way of a stormy student life?

No, on the contrary, it helped. You can discuss ideas with classmates, not think about food. Of course, sometimes everyone went to study, and we came to classes with huge packages of chocolates, because at first we delivered orders by metro ourselves in order to reinvest the maximum profit.

Tell me what was the first thing you did? Where did you get chocolate?

We decided to outsource chocolate production because we only had 100 thousand rubles, most of which had to go to the site, ingredients and packaging. Therefore, we called about 50 restaurants with a proposal to produce products at their facilities. Surprisingly, only the most expensive restaurant in Moscow agreed.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

4. And when did you manage to start your production?

Three months later. Our first corner was outside the Moscow Ring Road, 20 meters in size, but still our own.

Do you understand the production process yourself or just hired people?

Understanding this is easier than it looks. A week is enough to understand the basic principles.

How many people work at MixVille now?

58.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

5. At 23, is it difficult to manage those who are older than you?

A 35-year-old educated person will appreciate your level and will respect you. It is more difficult with young confectioners who came from afar. It seems to them that if the company's turnover is 1 million rubles, we put it in our pocket, and they work hard for 25 thousand rubles. Naturally, there were management problems that were superimposed on a lack of experience. I had to set myself up, this is a rather painful process that lasted the first six months. Now the level of people has become different, they are more adapted to reality and no longer ask the question: what does this guy allow himself?

You have three lines of business: corporate orders, user orders on the website, and B2B for cafes…

Already four. We are opening points of sale, now two are already working - in Golden Babylon and Prince Plaza. The development of points of sale is our main ambition, with their appearance we were born again, and the startup spirit reappeared. For this project (we call it "Islands"), we have attracted investors.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

6. Aren't you afraid that your main feature - variability - will disappear with the retail release? A person will come, he will see chocolates, but he will want something that is not in the window.

We spent a lot of money on research, and it turned out that almost no one is interested in sitting on the site for 20 minutes to choose a chocolate bar. Time is too precious. For the bulk of the main thing, it was tasty and in a cool package. Therefore, the meaning of the confectionery is no longer in a long choice, but in the fact that you can just come and buy a good sweet gift. We are now even redesigning the site so that the attention of customers is devoted to gifts. For example, sets for those who want to attract a girl or make up if they messed up. But our constructor, of course, will also be saved, in case a person does not find anything suitable.

Where do you buy your chocolate ingredients?

Now in Russia. Some were from abroad. This was reflected in the cost of some ingredients, fortunately, not the main ones.

That is, you quickly rebuilt?

Yes, they just had to raise some prices. If earlier something cost 25 rubles, now it costs 35.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

7. Have you thought about entering other markets?

When we talked with investors, we discussed this issue. But when you have, for example, 1 million rubles, and the question arises whether to invest it in another market or in marketing, the latter will definitely give you many times more output. It makes sense to expand when you already have 80 percent of the Moscow market. Therefore, we do not think about it yet, especially since we had a bad experience. We opened our store in the center of St. Petersburg, but it did not work out. People are completely different, they call back several times and refuse the order if the courier is 10 minutes late. In Moscow, everything is faster and more interesting.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

8. Have you thought about how you can optimize the delivery process? Create a car park?

The car park is not immediately, because it will pay off only after 3-4 years. We will buy one car. So far, we are satisfied with what we have, for example, a Toyota minivan. When you need to take 200 thousand chocolates, it is impossible to fit them into a passenger car.

And how do you like Toyota GT86 in order to go to meetings with investors?

Very cool sports coupe, suitable for those who are not burdened with a family. Such a car conveys the right attitude to business: passion, audacity - what aspiring entrepreneurs need.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

9. You didn't get arrogant owning such a big business at such a young age?

At first it was a little, but over time you realize that pride and arrogance only get in the way on the way to the top.

When you travel, do you try chocolate in other countries?

Yes, sure. In Japan, for example, I tried chocolate with wasabi, bacon. I pay attention to the packaging, additives, composition. When you're in business, you see things differently.

Founder of MixVille Confectionery: How to Start a Chocolate Factory at 20

10. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

A serial entrepreneur who has 2-3 large projects behind him. In my opinion, Tinkov is doing the right thing from a business point of view. He creates, works for 3-4 years, and when he gets bored and the business has the maximum value, he sells it. This is the perfect scheme, I always need a new one too.

What advice would you give to aspiring startups?

You need to consider yourself the smartest. Do not nurture an idea for years, it slows down the process. And don't listen to any advice. You will need them later when you have millions.

Keywords: Toyota | Coffee shop | Start-up | Chocolate

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