Case Studies

Healthy science at the heart of chocolate venture

A scientist who worked in cancer research has used his biochemistry skills to create a healthier chocolate bar.

Dr Neil Robson, based in Glasgow, used modern nutritional knowledge and science to develop his Rebel Chocolate range, which contains less sugar, more cocoa and is high in protein whilst also lactose free.

After key support from Business Gateway and his wife Suzanne, Neil is now making 200 bars of chocolate a week which they hope to increase to over 2,000 by the end of the year.

Neil’s aim when establishing Rebel Chocolate, which is available to buy online, at artisan markets, cafes and chocolate shops, was to make a chocolate bar that tastes amazing but is healthier than competitors.

He said: “At Rebel Chocolate we make unique chocolate bars in which we maximise the good and minimise the bad. We make our milk chocolate with less sugar and enhance it by adding in whey protein from milk. The end result is delicious chocolate which is lactose free and contains 25% protein. My background is in protein biochemistry and immunology so when I set myself the challenge to create a healthier chocolate I was able to draw on my training and experience gained through my scientific research. Whilst making chocolate is totally different to trying to cure cancer, the thought process of recipe development is very similar to scientific experimentation.

We were provided with lots of extremely useful templates and information, such as funding and grant opportunities.

“Business Gateway have been a tremendous support. Meeting with Mark, our adviser really gave us the confidence to move forward from an idea to starting a business. We were provided with lots of extremely useful templates and information, such as funding and grant opportunities. Subsequently, we were successful in obtaining a By Design grant from Scottish Enterprise which has been a massive help in designing our brand and creating an online presence.”

Mark Houston, Business Adviser, Business Gateway Glasgow said: “Neil benefitted from our one-to-one support on areas including his business plan as well as taking advantage of our knowledge of potential funding avenues. He also garnered important skills by attending our fully funded workshops and we will be here to assist him as Rebel Chocolate continues to grow.”

Rebel Chocolate, which launched earlier this year, currently sells three flavours; Belgian Milk, Single Origin Colombian Milk and Single Estate Madagascan Milk.

With plans to attend a host of food and drink festivals and events across Scotland, Neil is hoping sales will continue to rise leading him to invest in more equipment and take on staff to help him increase the output.

Neil added: “I sustained a back injury whilst martial arts training which progressively got worse over the years until physically I was unable to continue my scientific research. Rebel Chocolate, therefore came at the perfect time and allowed me to move on and put all my efforts into ‘reformulating’ milk chocolate.

“The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive with many saying they couldn’t tell ours had less sugar and different ingredients which ultimately was our main aim. With additional funding that we are hoping to secure soon, we will be able to focus on creating more flavours, adding to the range and targeting more stockists.”

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