Smart50 Awards 2015

13 Pana Chocolate

Revenue

$5.85 million

Growth

316.84%

Founders

Pana Barbounis, 42

Head office

Melbourne

Year founded

2012

Employees

40

Industry

Retail and consumer products

Website

panachocolate.com

In just three years Pana Chocolate has blossomed into a $5 million company with 40 employees.

As well as stocking its wares in retail outlets across the country, the raw chocolate maker also operates two retail shopfronts in Melbourne and Sydney and its chocolate is going gangbusters in Europe.

The Aussie success story is also planning to tackle Asian markets.

But like all fast-growing companies, Pana Chocolate still had to overcome significant challenges during the early days of the business.

One of the biggest hurdles was deciding the price point for its chocolate bars, according to founder Pana Barbounis.

In the end, Barbounis decided to sell his chocolate bars for $6.50 – a price point 30% to 40% higher than other comparable raw chocolate products.

“Selling this with inexperience in the retail space was a big challenge,” Barbounis says.

“I worked directly with retailers to learn about the space and wanted to do this quickly to grab market share, so I convinced them of the product integrity and sold them with a guarantee.”

“That guarantee was if they didn’t sell within the first month they would get a refund. Of course, it didn’t lead to that – the stockists placed new orders within two weeks and it quickly built to 22 stockists before heading to a distribution model.”

Because this gamble paid off, Barbounis says his one tip for other entrepreneurs is to back yourself.

“Believe in yourself and believe in your product and have a clear direction,” Barbounis says.

“Experience doesn’t always pave the way for the right way.”

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