An Austrian Immigrant Succeeds With His Chocolate Business Like None

Stephen Klein 31 arrived in New York from the Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. Upon his arrival he literally spent two days in New York researching the chocolate buying habits of New Yorkers.

He observed that Americans bought the sweet chocolates more. Instead of selling sweet chocolates he decided to launch bittersweet, Viennese-type chocolates.

The Launch Model was simple too. He made a batch by himself and started selling door-to-door himself in the garment district of New York. The garment district was filled with immigrants and Klein’s continental candy turned out to be an instant hit.

In one year he brought his wife and brothers from Vienna and partnered with a local attorney to create a candy business. In 1940 Barton’s Inc started with one store. Within one year there after Barton’s had four stores. By 1951 Bartons was a near $7 million dollar business with fifty three stores.

Yes Barton is a thriving business today and is still producly doing business after 111 years. ie, One Hundred Eleven Years.

You can read the entire story of Barton’s history by visiting their site BartonsCandy.com Their site doesn’t talk about the humble beginnings of Stephen Klein and his heroic entrepreneurial pursuits.

Stephan’s story touched me and there are many lessons that can be learnt from it. Here are a few of my take homes.

If you really know what you want to do all you have to do thereafter is validate. A lot of entrepreneurs spend their valuable time chasing money instead of validating their ideas. Stephen Klein is an example, how you do not need to spend valuable time in extensive market research and pay hefty to analysts to prove the viability of a market.

Why sell the same thing that others a selling? why not sell some variety. Stephen observed what others were doing and just did the opposite. He sold tasty continental bittersweet candy to the sweet loving public. Talk about risk..:)-

Not sure if your product is going to click? Just create small quantities and sell it yourself. You don’t need a salesforce. Stephen made the candy and sold it by walking door-to-door.

Not sure how to target your markets, learn from Stepehen. He only sold his candy within an area where there were a lot of immigrants. Immigrant candy, Immigrant Consumers.

New to the area or the idea? Find a good partner. Stephen was probably lucky to find an attorney who understood candy business as well as the entity structuring & taxation well.

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