Patricia Di Chiara was struck with a dilemma six years ago when her family moved to Canada; her children were no longer able to bring sandwiches made with chocolate spread and hazelnuts to school due to rules about severe allergies. Concerned about the safety of the children in the school, but also wanting to maintain the food options her children were used to eating at home, Patricia came up with a delicious solution: a nutrient rich, nut-free chocolate spread she named Luisella. And just like that, an entrepreneur was born!
Luisella’s sales have grown tremendously since launching in 2017, however, to maintain the sustainability of this growth, it became apparent that raising investment would be needed to scale. Garnering attention from the right investors is never easy but add woman-founder and food-product to the mix, and it is an even harder endeavour. Armed with tenacity and grit, Patricia recently finished raising an angel round, and has launched a fundraiser. In the months to come, she plans to seek out additional funding and scale her business even further. Patricia says Innovation Guelph’s award-winning Rhyze Ventures program has helped her “… realize how I need to raise funds, bring people in … I’m not going to be successful if I do everything myself. The support has been amazing ….”
Over the eight months in the Rhyze Ventures program, Patricia has changed the way she views her business. She says the program provided support in planning how and when to scale, helped her to understand the importance of growing her team. No longer can she be a “one-woman-team”; instead, she looks forward to leading a team with multifaceted skills and strengths. She says the Rhyze Ventures programming “has completely changed the way I view things, as I got to know the mentors and how productive it is when you seek assistance from knowledgeable professionals … it has really cemented my conviction of sustainable growth.”
While Patricia’s journey and success may read like a dream, she cautions “being an entrepreneur is two steps forward, three steps back. You must be resilient.” Patricia loves what she is doing and is eager to grow to a point she can help others going through a similar journey. She hopes to give back and share her lessons of entrepreneurship with others, in hopes to inspire, uplift … and of course – to rhyze.