Louis Barnett launch’s his own chocolate company, Chokolit
Louis Barnett is something of a wunderkind. The traditional rags-to-riches story has been told over and over, but then Louis’s story isn’t exactly traditional, more a case of self-belief and hard work. At 11 years old he was diagnosed with Dyslexia Dyspraxia and dropped out of school, this is where it all started! His chocolate is currently in 6 Waitrose stores but will be in 180 by Christmas 2007!
What inspired you to create your business?
I have always been a very foodie pearson and always conscious of where my food came from and my parents have always said you can achieve any thing you want so I knew as soon as I had the idea and demand I knew I had to go with it.
What were the main challenges you faced in getting Chokolit off the ground?
I think the main problems were like any in the industry such as printing start up costs trading standards but also from my age perspective not being able to be a legal MD
How did you go about finding and contacting suppliers and manufacturers?
By chance really most of them, Internet and by word of mouth as well as help from Callebaut
the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturer
Was it difficult to get people to take you seriously when you started?
i think I still get the “look it’s a kid” looks around the room when I walk in and as I said before as I’m not old enough to be a legal MD and I think a lot of people think I’m some sort of mascot.
Did you ever think you would be so successful?
I have a lot of faith in my product so in away weather I thought it or not I was going to make it successful.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started. What business related advice would you give yourself?
I think it would be more finance based because I have had a lot of problems with the bank and also with the lead time of machinery also there probably would have been a lot of cost savings when I started trying to do as little as I could in the way of outgoings on some now known as essential machinery such as air con and distribution costing
Do you think that being entrepreneurial is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
I think to be an entrepreneur is part of a mindset and yes I think it is in your blood from the start you either conform or are outside the box.
Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?
I think I have always admired people like myself who are creating successful careers for them self even though they have problems such as dyslexia and have been written off or are simply not academic
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I don’t think I really have I have had to learn so much on my feet that now by the time someone gives me advice about it I have already experienced it for myself but I believe one of the most true to life quotes is “you don’t make mistakes you only learn lessons”
Your just 15 years old, does your business effect your social life and in what way?
I think it has always affected my social life, but from an early age I have always liked spending time with adults and people older than me so really I don’t have time for most of my friends my own age but I am enjoying myself brilliantly in the business world!
What are your plans for the future?
I think my plans for the future are to continue perfecting the production process, and continuing distributing abroad next year to Japan