It’s all chocolate all the time for Todd Masonis, co-founder of the bean-to-bar chocolate factory, Dandelion Chocolate. However, Todd hasn’t always been so one-track-minded. He graduated from Stanford University and helped start the online address book company Plaxo alongside tech-company legend Sean Parker among others. In 2008 Plaxo was sold to Comcast and Todd decided to start Dandelion Chocolate with his college buddy and partner at Plaxo, Cameron Ring.
As a small-batch chocolatier, Dandelion Chocolate uses a short list of ingredients—a very short list. In fact, there are exactly two: cocoa beans and cane sugar. The tastefully-designed packaging is littered with statistics regarding how and where your chocolate bar comes from. Printed on the front is the country of origin, the batch number, and the harvest year. Printed on the back is the name of the person who sourced the beans, as well as the signature of the person in charge of the batch.
Dandelion Chocolate is a player in the relatively upcoming game of artisanal chocolate.. “It's a really exciting time for chocolate,” says Todd, “What happened to microbrew and coffee is happening to chocolate right now, but most people aren't aware of the huge changes that are coming. We're thrilled to be part of this new American craft chocolate movement.”
Lucky for all of us, Dandelion Chocolate is in high demand. “Right now we have a huge waitlist for our wholesale program and consistently sell out.” Dandelion has a factory and cafe on Valencia Street in San Francisco, California where you can try the chocolate, tour the factory, see how it’s made, and also enjoy drinks and pastries made with Dandelion Chocolate.
The world of chocolatiers and Internet startups may seem like worlds apart, but Todd and his team actually rely heavily on the advice they received from the mentors they had while running Plaxo. According to Todd, his advisors, “…always counseled us to just focus on making an awesome product, rather than making money. That advice has served us well and it's something we've taken to heart here -- it's really about doing this for the right reasons.”
Todd’s focus on a great product hasn’t steered him wrong so far, but it’s easy for Todd when all he thinks about is chocolate. “I don't think there's been a day in the last four years where I haven't been thinking about how we can make better chocolate or have a better chocolate experience.” With beans on the brain all day every day, Todd doesn’t have much time for anything else. The concept of a work/life balance doesn’t even exist for Todd. “I don't have a big distinction between work / not work. Usually even at home I'm thinking or working on chocolate or designing something for our store. So it's not like, ‘Oh I need to get up and go to work’ because I'm pretty much already there.”
Maybe it’s Todd’s “all chocolate all the time” mentality that is the key to Dandelion’s success. Todd pours all he has into his quality chocolate, his staff, and the running of his company. If you are in San Francisco, head to 18th and Valencia to visit the factory and café, otherwise visit them online.