Own a Piece of Your Very Own Chocolate Factory: In this episode Michael speaks to John Florey, CEO of Loving Earth; a bean-to-bar chocolate and functional food business based in Melbourne. In our last podcast, we spoke to Loving Earth’s co-founder, Scott Fry who alluded to an exciting future initiative, well John Florey the CEO joined us to talk more about the opportunity to invest. Listen & discover how you could own your very own chocolate factory-or at least part of one!
* Always consider the general CSF risk warning and offer document before investing.
About John Florey
John Florey is the CEO of Loving Earth and joined the company recently. After running and managing many large food and beverage corporations, he was attracted to the brand because Loving Earth’s passion for the environment was REAL. He believes they have gone beyond sustainability and are now focused on being regenerative! John enjoys being involved in a company that are genuinely giving back to the planet.
Investment EOI campaign https://www.birchal.com/company/lovingearth * Always consider the general CSF risk warning and offer document before investing.
John’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Johns LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-florey-maicd-17271913/
Loving Earth Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loving_earth/
Loving Earth Website: https://lovingearth.net/
Note: This has been automatically transcribed so is likely to have errors! It may however help you navigate the points of interests for you.
Own a Piece of Your Very Own Chocolate Factory!
Michael McGrath: Welcome to The Troubleshooter’s Podcast with me your host Michael McGrath. Today I’m speaking to John Florey, the CEO of loving Earth, a bean to bar chocolate and functional food business based here in Melbourne. Now, I must declare an interest. I do chair the board at Loving Earth and helped bring John into the business to lead up the fantastic Loving Earth management team. The co-founder Scott Fry spoke to me recently. So, for a more detailed and in depth look at Loving Earth and its wonderful environmental credentials-maybe have a listen to that episode. Scott, in that talk, alluded to an exciting initiative. Well, John is here today to talk to me about that initiative. Basically, there’s an opportunity to own part of the business from as little as $200. So, without further ado, let’s get into it. So, John Florey, welcome to The Troubleshooters Podcast.
John Florey: Thank you. How are you Michael?
Michael McGrath: I’m very well. Great to get you on. I’ve been meaning to get you on for a while. I think for those who follow our podcast, they may have already listened to the one where I interviewed Scott Fry and he talked a little bit about Loving Earth origins and its foundations and how he got started and how we have really helped the Ashaninka Community and how we’re really taking care of Indigenous communities both abroad and in Australia. In terms of the way we work. I wanted to get you on John, because Scott alluded towards the end of the podcast, he had some exciting news where we were looking to create a crowdsource funding exercise where we were going to put some of the business up for sale to see if we can track some impact investors to really help loving Earth go to the next stage. So, John, I know you’ve got some news around that. So just by way of context, just tell us where you are on that. I believe that loving Earth have just commenced an expression of interest campaign.
John Florey: Yeah we have Michael, we actually launched it this week on Tuesday. So far, the feedbacks been really, positive, which is good to see.
Michael McGrath: And how long does it run for John?
John Florey: Three weeks in total. So this one will go through to the 31st of October.
Michael McGrath: Okay, so 19 days left?
John Florey: 19 days left. And then after that, from the second of November, we go live. So there’ll be a two week window, where people who want to invest can invest in the business. You know, what, it’s quite affordable to get into $200 is all you need. Obviously, 200 plus would be nice, but $200 is all you need. And they’re 50 cent shares, so you can get yourself 400 shares for that initial investment.
Michael McGrath: Why loving Earth getting involved in a crowdfunding exercise at the moment?
John Florey: Look, I think, you know, if you think about the business, Michael has been around since 2013. And it was started by Scott Fry, as you know, and Martha Butler was our founders. And really, it was about what they can do for the planet at the time. And if you go back to 2013, there wasn’t really a lot happening. There’s a lot of talk, but no one was doing anything. So, these guys, they decided they wanted to do a functional food business, which they’ve started and they specialize in making real chocolate straight from the cacao itself. So, there’s no chemicals, there’s nothing else. It’s just pure chocolate, which is obviously known as bean to bar. So, when they did that, they decided well, they wanted to have zero waste packaging. And in doing that, they ended up having compostable inner film that keeps the product fresh inside the box. The box itself was compostable. And even the ink that they used to color the box was made from vegetable inks. So really Loving Earth are about giving back to the planet. They’re about helping the planet. And by raising this money by raising this capital, it allows us to move faster to get better products to market. We’ve got good people on board now. But it also allows us to get the right equipment that we need to make ourselves even more zero waste.
Michael McGrath: So John, I know that the guys have been around now for over 10 years, right? Yeah. And I understand that you joined the business reasonably recently, what attracted you to Loving Earth and what’s exciting to you about Loving Earth and the future, and how this capital might be able to be deployed?
John Florey: Loving Earth. I think it’s a really, good brand to start with, and it’s well known in the marketplace as a vegan organic product, the world’s changed. People are much more interested now in what they can do & what they can give back, and I spent most of my life working in corporates. And really, you know, if I look at some of the corporates, I’ve worked for they talk about sustainability. But really, it’s a marketing slogan. Yeah, these guys at Loving Earth, they’ve gone beyond sustainability. They’re now into regenerative. And they, they’re genuine, they want to give back. And, you know, I think when I think about my children and the planet, they’re going to inherit from us, then I think I’d like to be involved in that and give something back also.
Michael McGrath: That’s a great point. And I suppose the, you know, just tried to put some context to this. We’re talking about selling, say, 37% of the business here, aren’t we? And we want to get that in the hands have impact investors and those who are aligned and interested in the future. I mean, I understand that we’re going to sell about two and a half million shares at 50 cents, right? That’s right. Okay. And for as low as 400 bucks gets you, you know, gets you in, that’s the minimum subscription amount?
John Florey: 200 bucks Michael!
Michael McGrath: wow, where do I sign? Let me ask you this, John, what’s the future then, what will this allow Loving Earth to do?
John Florey: Effectively, that money is going to be used to get ourselves into new markets. So, to give you a taste of that, the future for us, I think, is more around new product development, and taking things to market that perhaps are a little bit disruptive. So, I see us as a bit of a challenger brand, to be perfectly honest, there’s a lot of also RANS out there. And we have an opportunity because of the genuineness of our product, we have that opportunity to make a difference. So that money is going towards getting the right people in place. We’ve been doing a lot of that work recently, we’ve got professional procurement, professional NPD, as a new product developers, and now we’re going for professional salespeople. So we can use that money for an E commerce platform, new website, so we can get to those business customers and those people that we need to get to. We’ve got opportunities with export, we do a little bit now. But we can grow that in the future. And that’s very exciting, because there’s a big demand for our products, right through Singapore, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates in particular. So, you know, I can see this. It’s just growing, you know, the whole market is changing, and it’s growing. And people want to be involved in this type of thing. They’re tired. And I think we can fill that void.
Michael McGrath: We’re not talking about a new business here, we’re talking about a pretty, you know, we’ve got good distribution already at Loving Earth. So tell us a bit about that. I know that we’re in all the Woolworths…
John Florey: yeah, we have we’ve got great distribution. We’ve got over 1100 stores nationwide that we service through our distribution network. There’s over 200 in New Zealand, as well as those export ones I talked about, but we’re in, we’re in foreign food stores. We’re in health food stores. And we’re in both major and independent supermarket groups. So, we’ve got pretty good availability. However, it doesn’t stop there. There are so many more opportunities for us both domestically and overseas and I think what we’ll do is we’ll cement ourselves domestically, yeah, and get Loving Earth back to where it should be as a brand.
Michael McGrath: And look, interestingly, I know that you guys got through COVID Quite well, although the second year was a little bit challenging & as well, that was one of the reasons I think that some of the resources got drained. But since you’ve reorganized and set your sights on the future, John, you were saying to me, that the new product development is already opening up so many doors, because you’re effectively now being able to sell more products through your same distribution, which obviously makes it much more efficient for you guys.
John Florey: Absolutely. Loving Earth, during the pandemic loving Earth did to a great deal of new product development. And in one respect that helps to slow things down. So, you know, when you’re in a retail marketplace, you need to have new, you need to have new and at the end of the day, whilst we are manufacturers, we look at the market through the eyes of a retailer. So, what we’re looking for is what a retail want, and what do their customer base want. And if we can identify those gaps and fill that need, they were away. And you know, again, I mentioned before about the world’s changing place that the market and industry trends are growing in areas such as health and nutrition, which fits us beautifully. Sustainability, natural naturalness, functional foods, and natural ingredients. So, we tick all those boxes. So, for us new product development that plays in that space is key to growth in the future.
Michael McGrath: I mean, in terms of Loving Earth, it’s quite a trusted brand, isn’t it? I mean, I think we’ve got 300,000 followers on Instagram, right as an example and I know you’re keen to make more and more direct connection. It’s one of the things you’re using the capital for is to develop your kind of online direct web presence, but certainly is a trusted brand because people understand that it’s healthy and good for you. And its bean to bar. And you know, I know you were saying recently, that we’re probably paying twice the spot price for cacao to give those Ashaninka communities a chance to really have a sustainable regenerative outlook, I suppose.
John Florey: Yeah, that’s right and you know that that community has thrived since we’ve been doing business with them. Yeah, Scott would have talked to you about in the first year, we did about 10,000 tonnes with them, now we’re up to 90,000 tonnes of cacao. So, you know, because they’re getting a premium price from us, that’s really helping them with their way of life, and putting some money back into their pockets if you like, and there’s no slave labor, no slave labor at all with the Ashaninka so, you know, we’re pretty proud of that. And we were going to continue doing it. Yeah. And our followers, you talk about 300,000 followers on Instagram. They’re hearing the story, as they will offer website as well. And not only that, of course, we use other social medias, like even LinkedIn. Yeah. And who knows what the future holds.
Michael McGrath: Yeah, that’s, great. Now look, I understand that we’re putting two and a half million shares up for sale at 50 cents, and there’s a pre money enterprise value being determined, I think about the 3.4 million. Yep. Now, I had a little bit of input here. And I suppose I just wanted to provide some context. So, the owners are very keen, and they came in at the very lower end of the range that was that was developed and, you know, could have been used and what one of the reasons for that is that they wanted more and more people to get involved. And they want to do right by those investors, don’t they? So, what what’s your view John, on the opportunity really, to, invest?
John Florey: Look, I think it’s, it’s a huge opportunity, there’s this company is going places, and it ticks all the boxes when it comes to giving back to the planet. So, you know, for an entry level investment of $200. I think it’s affordable to everybody. We’re not going out there looking for the multimillion-dollar investor. We want to get many, many people involved. So, whether it’s 200 300 400, or $1,000, it is affordable. And you know, I think it’s great to get behind a brand like this because it’s doing such good things at the marketplace.
Michael McGrath: So, look, here’s the thing, right, and I’m, I need to really declare an interest that I am on the board. And I’ve been asked to chair the board. And I know that you’re on the board, John, and that you’re very involved on a full-time day to day basis. And we’ve got, you’ve got a great management team. So, here’s the thing, if people like this story, they liked you and they think, and they want to own part of a chocolate factory. What have they got to do?
John Florey: Go to https://www.birchal.com/company/lovingearth Yep, that’s the website to go to. Go into there, go into the menu, and browse the companies and you’ll find loving Earth. So you can register your expression of interest. Now, today, this minute, any time.
Michael McGrath: okay, now, is there any commitment if I do?
John Florey: no commitment, but there’s a button there that you can press that says, Yes, I want to commit!
Michael McGrath: Okay, and what does that mean, then?
John Florey: It simply means that we’ll get back to you when we go live in early November. And we’ll send you the documentation so that you can invest in the business.
Michael McGrath: If I make an investment. Do I get some free chocolate?
John Florey: You will get some free chocolate Michael! Yes. Yeah, there’s several freebies, you’ll get depending on how much you invest. Okay, we are giving away things like Frank green drinking bottles and Loving Earth tote bags, as well as the opportunity to have your own line of chocolate in the marketplace and plenty of samples and plenty of new lines as we go forward.
Michael McGrath: Now, John, it’s been great fun getting to know you, and it’s been good fun working with you. Right. And I was part of the panel that hired you. So, tell us a bit about your background, John, because you have got a long and successful track record of heading up retail operations as CEO.
John Florey: I have. I have got a long history Michael, you’re quite right. Look, I’ve my prior to this role. I was the Managing Director and CEO of a company called the Food Revolution group that did beverages effectively okay. Just before that I was the CEO of a multi store operator group under the IGA banner running supermarkets. And prior to that, I was a group GM at Coles. I won’t go back any further than that because it goes back quite a long way.
Michael McGrath: That’s probably enough. But this is not your first rodeo so hopefully you can bring some of that revolution to Loving Earth. I think I know you’re busy. I know you’re completely up to your neck at the moment so, I’m very grateful for you joining us on The Troubleshooters podcast. We wish you well, in the crowdsource funding exercise and we wish Loving Earth well we wish the founders well and we wish the staff well.
John Florey: Thank you, get on board, invest!
Michael McGrath: So, there you have it, you can be the proud owner of your very own chocolate factory. Well, at least part of it. John and the team at Loving Earth are among the most genuinely committed people I know, committed to both the environment, the indigenous communities who supply them, and there are 1000s of customers that enjoy eating healthy, delicious, better for you, chocolate. If you want to register your interest, head on over to the platform at www.birchal.com and register, but hurry only 19 days left! The details will also be in the show notes. Now remember, always consider the risk warning and the offer document before investing. Thanks. Until next time, stay safe!