University of Exeter: Award success for ‘healthy’ chocolate business

Ant Wilson is the founder of Push Chocolate, which makes chocolate buttons that are vegan, higher in protein and lower in sugar than normal chocolate, as well as free from all 14 major food allergens. He has been awarded Silver and Bronze for his orange chocolate buttons at the Free From Food Awards.

Ant, who launched his ethical chocolate brand in 2018, turned to the University of Exeter’s Incubator programme last year when he was looking to grow the business by developing a new even healthier low sugar chocolate.

A graduate from the University of Exeter with an MSc in International Business Studies, he received support and funding to undertake a market validation study for the new product and to redesign his packaging, which is plastic-free and recyclable, to ensure retail compliance. Not only did he have access to business mentors in areas like marketing, finance, law, and intellectual property, he was supported to enter awards like the Free From Food Awards and the Clean Growth Category at the Cornwall Business Awards in which he is a finalist.

Ant said

“I have a passion for chocolate, but I also like to stay fit and healthy. I didn’t like the protein bars and shakes that were on the market and decided that I would try and make a healthy version of chocolate for myself and find a way to up my protein intake by having it in a nice format that wasn’t like gym vending machine bars. I had always wanted to run my own business and a desire to create a values-led, ethical brand and a love of chocolate has enabled me to do this.

The support the incubator programme gave me was invaluable and I am now confident in taking my new low sugar product to market. It launches on 6 June.”

Nicholas Pearson, Start-Up Programme officer said

“It was great to have a graduate entrepreneur like Ant with a successful start-up business getting the most out of the programme by exploring new ways to grow his business. We look forward to welcoming him back to the Summer Bootcamp, running from 15-17 June, where we he will demo his pitch for undertaking market validation work for his low sugar chocolate.”