A Park Slope entrepreneur has sweetened the pot for a group of aspiring entrepreneurs at Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood.
Christina Summers, aka Princess Chocolatto, the founder of Dolce Vite LLC – who has brought her custom blend of luscious Italian hot chocolate to Brooklyn where it can be savored in local cafés – has been working with the students in the school’s Virtual Enterprise program, whose goal is to raise enough money selling the sweet stuff to fund their efforts to excel at a national competition sponsored by the Virtual Enterprise Institute where they are finalists.
“They are looking to raise $2,000 by April 15,” explained Summers who, said Lisa Costantino, teacher and facilitator of the program at Murrow, “has been very generous in providing her delicious product Chocolatto for students to sell as a fundraiser.”
“I want everyone to have the sweet life,” noted Summers, adding, “which is why I’m working with the students to give them business skills.”
There’s a double payoff for the students – not only is it a practical exercise but selling Chocolatto “has given students at Edward R. Murrow High School a great opportunity to take their virtual selling into reality,” said Costantino, who explained that the Virtual Enterprise program, “allows students to ‘learn by doing’ using project-based learning: students create and run businesses and participate in a global business simulation comprised of 500 student businesses from 350 schools around the country.”
Adding “realism to the experience,” Costantino continued, “schools partner with real-world companies that provide students with advice and resources used in the professional world.” In this instance, the students’ Brandmark Advertising has partnered with Dolce Vite.
The Brandmark team secured its spot in the competition, Costantino added, by “creat(ing) and sell(ing) digital advertisements for other firms in the VEI network and post(ing) them on VEI’s online portal for all to see,” as well as “writ(ing) a comprehensive business plan.” It all culminates at the 2015 National Business Plan Competition later this month, with winners announced at the New York City International Trade Show.
The students’ experience has already been rich as a cup of Chocolatto.
“Chocolatto gave me the opportunity to gain experience of real sales, which gave me the confidence in real life,” noted Eric Zhong, and Heriberto Escalona remarked, “Selling Chocolatto made me see the world from a different perspective. You may be rejected at times, but whenever it happens, take it in a positive way to improve your selling.”
According to Summers, who has been promoting Chocolatto for a little more than two years, the product is “thick and creamy, more of a deluxe dessert” than a simple cup of hot chocolate. “That’s the appeal,” she stressed.
Her love affair with Italian hot chocolate arose out of a visit to Italy. Not a hot chocolate lover, she was urged to taste Italian chocolate during a visit with an Italian family. “I said, No thank you, because I don’t like American hot chocolate, but they insisted,” Summers recalled. “My first reaction was, Why is it so thick? I tried it and loved it, and saw it as a solution for America to have real hot chocolate.”
Chocolatto is available in Brooklyn at Paneantico, Bar Toto, Café Dada and Dumbo Kitchen and can be ordered on line at dolceviteforeveryoung.com.