“Two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown in the West African countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana. And these countries are located five degrees north of the equator,” stated Ben, explaining how the name for his start-up company Five North came into being. The young entrepreneur attaches great importance to ensuring that everyone involved in the production chain of his chocolate snacks are treated and paid fairly.
“I really love eating chocolate,” the 22-year-old remarked. “But what I felt was missing from the market was a healthy, delicious bite-sized chocolate packaged conveniently for on-the-go snacking.” And so, he set out combining various ingredients in the kitchen, experimenting freely. After several tastings and test sales, he came up with small vegan cubes made of dark chocolate combined with “superfoods” like goji berries, chia seeds and pistachios.
After completing his Bachelor degree, the American student took part in a cultural exchange programme between the German Bundestag and US Congress which enabled him to study at Münster School of Business for one semester. He pitched Five North to the Venture Club Münster at one of their events. “Mihai Melonari from the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre (S2BMRC) was at the meeting and saw my presentation and asked me whether I would be interested in an internship,” Ben reported. “I accepted the position and during my time at the centre, I contributed to an EU project called ‘Tomorrow’s Land’. The aim of this project is to support young innovators who seek to resolve today’s most pressing social problems.” His time at S2BMRC was an experience that the exchange student will greatly miss: “I worked with an awesome team that always supported me fully, especially with my venture Five North.”
Now back in the US, Ben is focusing on marketing his chocolate snacks which can already be purchased online and in a number of shops in New York State. They may even be available in Germany at some point, too. After all, if he were to start selling the products abroad, Germany would be at the top of Ben’s list: “Germany is like a second home to me.”
By Stefanie Gosejohann