A Delicious Partnership: Part-Time MBA Students Consult for Local Chocolate Maker

Local Wellesley small business, ChocAllure's Chocolate Jewels ™.

Ellie Kyung first stumbled upon ChocAllure as she searched online for the perfect gift to bring for friends at an upcoming conference. The associate professor of marketing at Babson College expected a simple but tasty box of chocolates, not unlike the boxes she’d gifted before. But instead, she discovered chocolatier Liron Gal’s Chocolate Jewels ™.  

A small business owner and chocolate maker, Gal brings traditional techniques from the prestigious Ecole Lenôtre in Paris and the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Chicago to her local Wellesley storefront. She crafts each Chocolate Jewel by hand, pouring distinct layers like vanilla bean salted caramel, liquid hibiscus syrup, and crunchy hazelnut gianduja into molds, encasing them within their iconic and colorful glossy outer shells.  

It wasn’t long before Kyung became a regular on the ChocAllure website, browsing for birthdays, thank you presents, and thinking-of-you gifts. For each class in the part-time MBA program, Kyung works to find an entrepreneur with an interesting growing business who might want to partner with her students. Well before the spring semester rolled around, Kyung knew which business she wanted her Online MBA Marketing Core class to connect with.  

ChocAllure has grown rapidly in the few short years since Gal launched in 2021, back when she sold orders online from her home office-turned-chocolate lab while balancing her family and her full-time job in cybersecurity. Her work developed a cult-like following among chocolate lovers, enabling her to quit her corporate job and open a brick-and-mortar store in partnership with two other local business owners.  

Working in teams of four or five, Kyung’s part-time MBA students collaborated throughout the semester to develop a series of recommendations targeting Gal’s two key business priorities: 1. How to grow her in-person sales in her newly opened retail store on Central Street in downtown Wellesley; and 2. How to increase her online orders. 

Breaking the Mold: Creating Actionable Solutions 

Ellie Kyung, associate professor of marketing at Babson College.

Kyung was deliberate in how she broke out the teams for this semester-long project. Balancing both schedules and prior work experience, she did what she could to ensure that each group had a range of skill sets and backgrounds to draw upon. “What I especially appreciate about the part-time students is that they generally have more work experience and a really unique diversity of experience,” explained Kyung.  

Alex Brasco ’13 and part-time MBA student pulled heavily from her experience in marketing strategy. “I got jazzed about the target audience,” she explained. Her group created four targeted recommendations to deliver increased online orders. “Who is the exact person that we want to go after and what’s a unique way to find them? The project started with identifying who the target audience was, for our group that was gift givers in the B2B and B2C space that we knew we had to treat differently.”  

Alex Brasco ’13 and part-time MBA student.

With recommendations ranging from adjustments to the website layout to ad placements within local publications, Brasco and her team laid out a handful of actionable changes.  

“She’s not looking to be a subject of a project just to get these crazy ideas that she can’t implement. She really wanted ideas that she could actually go out and execute on. That was really the challenge,” said Brasco. 

“I want this woman to succeed. I want people to try her chocolates.” 
Jamie Connors, part-time MBA student

Tasting the Results of Their Success 

Jamie Connors, a part-time MBA student.
Jamie Connors, a part-time MBA student.

“I want this woman to succeed. I want people to try her chocolates,” said Jamie Connors, a part-time MBA student. “I think even giving that level of complexity to a project helps motivate me personally, because I need to have her peanut butter cups in my life forever.” Her group centered its recommendations around ChocAllure’s in-store and in-person sales growth, drawing upon Connors’ and her team’s combined years of experience in the event planning industry to identify additional opportunities. 

“It was pretty amazing,” said Gal. “There were a lot of great ideas. You could see that these are people who have experience, so it was just really interesting hearing so many different viewpoints. And, I’ve already incorporated some of it.” Already, students can see the results of their work in the tweaks to ChocAllure’s website and in the displays in her store.  

Chames Kermi, a part-time MBA student.

“I would definitely recommend projects like this. If you go to the class, you get the theory, but if you don’t practice the theory, you don’t really learn the right way,” said Chames Kermi, a part-time MBA student and principal scientist at Pfizer who lives in California. “If the work you’re doing is good enough, you might see the outcome of your work in the real world and you can see the results in a few months or a few years.” 

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