Have a Sweet Tooth? Bocandy’s Service Might Be for You

4/14/14Follow @XconomyDET

I am a candy fanatic, and I unfortunately have the cavities to prove it. When I spent a summer living in British Columbia in the 1990s, I fell in love with Coffee Crisp candy bars. It’s a bit like a Kit Kat, but with mocha-flavored frosting. After I returned to the U.S., I realized I would have to quit my Coffee Crisp addiction cold turkey when I couldn’t find it in any stores here.

I might be the dream customer for a new startup based in Detroit called Bocandy. Founder Blake Knoblock aims to provide a candy subscription service modeled on Birchbox: Bocandy chooses a number of sweet selections each month for customers to sample, usually including unique or hard-to-find items from overseas. In March, Bocandy picked up a $5,000 investment from Start Garden, Rick DeVos’s initiative to expand the startup scene in Grand Rapids.

A box of Bocandy costs $12 per month, with discounts offered for first-time customers and those who pay upfront for multiple months. “We find the best candy and then ship seven to 10 treats each month,” Knoblock says.

Knoblock finds the candy he features each month by taking notes while traveling. “I also have friends working all around the world who say, ‘You should try this.’” He names Japan’s green tea-flavored Kit Kat as an example of an exotic piece of candy that recently made it into Bocandy shipments.

In the future, Knoblock plans to offer both sweet and savory snack-box options. But as of now, he sends out just one curated shipment of candy per month. “Candy is a really unifying concept, because every culture has treats,” he adds.

Knoblock’s background is in marketing, and he says he wanted to have a profitable startup from day one, a goal he seems to have fulfilled. Bocandy has more than 50 subscribers now, and Knoblock hopes that number will rise to 100 by the end of the month. He’s able to generate a profit, he says, because he has low overhead costs. He didn’t see the need for a huge infrastructure, so he built Bocandy’s website himself.

Knoblock says that unlike Birchbox, which relies on a heavy social-media presence for part of its success, Bocandy isn’t big enough yet for Facebook ads. Instead, he’s looking to connect notable people who like candy with his subscription service. He buys the candy in bulk at a discount, which allows him to keep his rates low.

For now, he’ll keep trying to spread the word about Bocandy and work to get subsequent support from Start Garden. “What drew me to Start Garden was that it’s a contest—an easy way to test your idea,” Knoblock says.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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