Ti Amo, ChocAmo
Baiada Bred Female Entrepreneur Adds a Dash of Love to the Philly Food Scene
December 21, 2015
"ChocAmo, It's pronounced /CHō · kä · mô/ - like amo or amor - from the romance languages." Michelle Silberman is rightfully particular about how you say the name of her company. Combining chocolate and a translation of love, she has propelled her artisan dessert company, ChocAmo, from a Baiada Incubated idea into an indulgent, craft staple of the thriving Philadelphia food scene. Along the way, embracing creativity, taste, and the supporting Philadelphia entrepreneurship community.
ChocAmo churns out a variety of delectable artisan treats. The flagship cookie cup, an edible cup coated with frosting or chocolate, serves as a fun way to pour a shot of milk, espresso, ice cream or liqueur. The coconut macaroon minis, a naturally gluten-free option - that is also available vegan - is ChocAmo's newer product and an immediate hit with customers. These customers find the products through a variety of channels, with significant exposure coming from high profile events. Events catered by ChocAmo include Drexel graduation, where Michelle both created thousands of cookie cups and walked for graduation almost simultaneously, and Noshhh, a local Philadelphia craft food & drink vendor showcase.
What started as an idea in the 7th grade between Michelle and a classmate turned into a concept for a freshman year entrepreneurship class. The idea re-emerged further into her Drexel career. She explains the moment the business was born. "During my third co-op I was sitting at my desk and I had the option to switch it to part time or to build this full time. I dove right in. It's something I'm passionate about." Taking the dive was not a light decision, but she believes her passion to be a deciding factor in ChocAmo's success. "If I'm not passionate about what I'm doing, I can't do it. A lot of companies in Baiada are very passionate about what they're doing."
This community of Baiada Institute entrepreneurs plays an important role in ChocAmo's success. "Being in a coworking space with people that are conducive to entrepreneurial work is imperative to a start-up's growth." Silberman acknowledges the helpful atmosphere of Baiada and also takes advantage of her wide Drexel network. She recently began working with another company started by Drexel alumni, Oat Foundry, to create a production solution and ultimately ramp up production with a co-packer.
Outside of Drexel, Silberman involves herself with the local Philadelphia female entrepreneurship community. "There are really amazing women entrepreneur groups in Philly," she recognizes her experiences with the Female Professionals Collective. "It has become an event that happens every few months. It is a nice discussion board, and there are tons of networking opportunities." Through these networking events and communication boards, Silberman connects with customers and companies looking to collaborate with ChocAmo, all while strengthening the burgeoning spirit of female entrepreneurship in Philadelphia.
At the end of the day, even with a great product and an inspiring atmosphere, the life of an entrepreneur is tumultuous. Silberman realizes her duty as owner of the company and does not shy away from the responsibility. "To be an entrepreneur, you need to be a bit of everything. You have to be near-sighted and far-sighted at the same time." Still, she understands the crucial role her team of workers has helped with everything from public relations to event planning. "I know Chocamo is my effort and my team's effort. It is very transparent."
Silberman and her team welcome these challenges. They manage the uncertainty in the future and work together to prepare ChocAmo for what Silberman calls the "roller coaster ride every single day." This roller coaster speeds up around the end of the calendar year. December finds many people looking for clever treats to spice up their holiday work parties or personal events. And for consumers wanting to add an extra dimension of love to their holiday celebrations, they need only to look toward ChocAmo.
More information on ChocAmo can be found at their website: http://chocamo.com/
Christian Larsen, Communications, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship