Cello Chocolate was founded by Ned and Debi Russell in 2013. Cello Chocolate works with local farmers from six countries to create 70% dark chocolate, single origin bars. Each bar is made with the same three ingredients: cacao beans, cacao butter, and organic sugar. The bars derive their flavor from the genes of the bean, unique to each home country. Ned spent over 20 years in the chocolate industry, managing production at Ghirardelli for 12 of those years. Debi worked in sales and marketing for several years at Sybase, Oracle, and Apple Computers.
In 2018, Ned and Debi contacted Dean Amy Shulz looking for a social media intern. In the course of a phone conversation, Amy mentioned Enactus and invited them to attend their next meeting. Ned and Debi agreed and upon hearing of the work Enactus was doing, right then and there, decided to give the Cello Chocolate company as a legacy to Sierra College students. Over the next six months, Ned and Debi, along with a team of professors at Sierra College, developed a plan to make Cello Chocolate a tool to improve student education while supporting students’ goals. At the same time, Cello Chocolate would continue to support small farmers from the six countries, ensuring the best standards of quality and that all funds would go to the farmers, supporting their businesses and allowing them to provide living wages to their employees.
In July of 2019, Cello Chocolate was transferred to Cello Student Enterprises Inc; a 501c3 nonprofit, a structure that would ensure the goals and purpose of Cello Chocolate would be protected while allowing for the growth of Cello Student Enterprises: reaching more students in more regions. Cello Student Enterprises Inc is the parent corporation that would provide guidance and support to Cello Chocolate Sierra College. This model is similar to a franchise model but provides more flexibility on how chapters at other colleges can be formed.
Cello Chocolate Sierra College is the first chapter founded under Cello Student Enterprises Inc that will operate with students from Sierra College and the neighboring high schools. Cello Chocolate Sierra College will use its resources to provide real supply chain management, marketing, finance, and culinary experience to students. This will allow students to apply their education. Cello Chocolate Sierra College will operate in a completely vertically integrated model that: sources the raw materials, manages supply chain, does production packaging, markets the product, distributes, manages, and analyzes finances. This integration makes Cello Chocolate Sierra College a multi-disciplinary lab for students ranging from Business to Mechatronics. This multidisciplinary lab can include Marketing, IT, Finance, Design, and Law students. Since Cello Chocolate encourages a myriad of majors, students can gain experience in their area of interest.
With the support of three on-site mentors and those from Cello Student Enterprises Inc, the students will operate under 4 primary departments: Management, Operations, Sales and Marketing, and Finance. Each pillar is lead by a student Vice President and has 2-3 students focused on the elements of that pillar.
Through the sales of the six chocolate bars and other chocolate products, Cello Chocolate Sierra College will use the profits to provide academic scholarships and to support student-driven philanthropic projects.
Cello Chocolate has a proven track record of producing strong profits through e-commerce, sales events, corporate sales, and some retail sales. This insures that Cello Chocolate Sierra College is founded on a self funding model that is sustainable. Cello Chocolate Sierra College will also look for donations, endowments, and grants to support our mission of supporting student academic goals, small farmers, and social challenges.