Ethical chocolate brand Hey Tiger to close after three years

fire first employee

Hey Tiger founder Cyan Ta'eed. Source: Supplied

Aussie ethical chocolate startup Hey Tiger is closing its doors after three years, with founder and chief Cyan Ta’eed citing challenges in balancing scale and profitability with social impact.

The business set out to create high-quality chocolate products that would also raise awareness of, and address, some of the inequalities in the chocolate industry,

In a farewell letter, Ta’eed, who also co-founded Melbourne tech giant Envato along with husband Collis, said the team had succeeded in building a brand people love, selling about 700,000 bars in Australia and beyond.

The challenge, however, was building that into the scale required to reach profitability, and to become a sustainable social enterprise, while also staying true to its impact goals.

Hey Tiger sources its cocoa from ethical suppliers. And in partnership with the Ta’eed’s charitable organisation The Impact Fund, has donated a total of $400,000 to The Hunger Project, which supports cocoa farming communities in Ghana.

In the letter Ta’eed said she and the team have “challenged the status quo” of what a chocolate brand looks like, through designer packaging, unusual flavours and frequent partnerships.

In 2019, for example, Hey Tiger partnered up with Insta-famous dog Tofu Chan on a limited edition creme brulee and black sesame dulcey bar.

More recently, the brand collaborated with Goreng Goreng artist Rachael Sarra, who designed the packaging for a range of flavours released for Mother’s Day.

 

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Still, although they have gained a loyal following, the team has had to ask difficult questions, Ta’eed said in the letter.

“Do our products resonate with customers? Can we grow? Can we generate profits? Can we scale sustainably?

“As I’ve advised many other entrepreneurs over the years, sometimes even with the best vision, incredible people, and a lot of hard work, the answer to some or all of these questions isn’t what you want it to be.”

Ta’eed also encouraged Hey Tiger fans to use their purchasing power for good, and to support businesses that “help make the world a better place”.

She also hinted that she’s not done with social enterprise herself, suggesting she is going back to the drawing board, and encouraging others to give it a go too.

“It’s vital that entrepreneurs and dreamers everywhere take risks, go big, and try,” she wrote.

“In the end, we may not have stuck the landing, but I’m still glad we took the leap.”

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