Wall’s Cornetto ice creams have likely been a childhood (and beyond) favourite treat for many around the world. What makes this convenient store snack so special is its sweet, chocolatey bit at the end of the ice cream cone.
So when local online business Eskem Bites released its own product selling just the chocolate tips for RM25 per pack, I assumed that its founder just really loved the ends of Cornetto cones.
Either that, or they were making Cornetto Tips—which have been available in other countries since March 2021—accessible in Malaysia too.
Upon speaking to them, its founder Linda revealed that the idea of founding Eskem Bites had actually been brewing for at least 2 years prior. Being a homemaker who cooks and bakes daily, she’d been experimenting with creating various snacks for her family of sweet tooths.
But the idea to launch chocolate cone snacks finally occurred to her on a hot day at a family picnic.
A hot picnic day
“It’s a silly story. There was a day that our family went on a picnic and got everyone a Cornetto ice cream,” recalled Linda. The hot weather had melted every single one and the only part which survived was the chocolatey tip at the end of the cone.
It didn’t really matter to the family; the chocolate tip was everyone’s favourite part of the snack.
“A crunchy chocolate cone that melts in the mouth that wasn’t sold anywhere. That’s how I got the idea for Eskem Bites. To make them readily available so everyone can enjoy their favourite part of the ice cream on the go, wherever and whenever,” Linda told Vulcan Post.
To get the wheels turning, RM20,000 was invested on machinery and raw materials to make the chocolate cone tips. After the products went viral on social media 4 months into Eskem Bites’ launch, demand increased and more funds were pumped in to ensure it could keep up with production.
In total, RM60,000 was invested as start-up cost, which also includes the company’s marketing budget.
Just the tips
Currently produced in Linda’s home with 3 other teammates, Eskem Bites’ bites (what they call their cone tips) are manually cut from ready-made cones in the market. This is because the team has yet to attain the machinery required to make the tiny cones from scratch, but Linda shared that it’s in the works.
After the ends are cut off, Linda would use the rest of the cones to create simple snacks for her family instead of merely throwing them away. Because the remaining cone bits aren’t being turned into another product that can bring in revenue, it appears that this is one area of loss.
In order to maximise the usability of the extras, especially if she’s left with a lot after each batch, perhaps Linda could consider turning them into other simple snacks to sell.
The team will then pipe in the chocolate mix and wait for them to set in a chilled environment. To ensure quality control, each bite will go through multiple checks by Linda during the production process.
On average, each team member can produce a rough 50 packs of Eskem Bites in 7 hours.
The product seems simple, as it appears to only require store-bought ice cream cones and chocolate filling, which can also be made from products found in grocery stores.
With such a low barrier of entry, it’s easily replicable and could inspire more small businesses to leverage this trend as well, especially during festive seasons like Hari Raya where unique snacks will be highly demanded.
When brought up, Linda agreed and stated that her bites can be made by anyone. “But very few would actually withstand the tedious work and preparation to ensure the bites are crunchy and melts in the mouth,” she added.
“Though the product is simple, the process isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It requires very thorough observation and controlled temperatures across the working hours.”
Being in the F&B industry, she further explained that it’s normal to have competitors, and that the team would be proud knowing that they were the first to market such a product in Malaysia and Singapore.
When customers become sellers
While production is based in Subang Jaya, Eskem Bites ships nationwide and has been made regionally available through agents in Selangor, Johor, Kedah, and Negeri Sembilan.
Linda shared that this expansion came after a distribution issue during the business’s virality period. Because the product was rare to find, the customers who bought them were impatient when it came to waiting for products to be shipped.
Eskem Bites chose to leverage its customers online who also happened to be looking for an additional income stream during the pandemic. They were then onboarded as agents to help distribute the product in their respective states, and the brand was able to be more efficient and quicker in fulfilling customer purchases.
Since launching in May 2021, Eskem Bites has been steadily selling an average of 1,000 to 1,500 packs of their chocolate cone tips monthly.
To expand, Eskem Bites has plans to come up with more flavours of its bites which would keep customers interested and coming back for more.
While Eskem Bites’ product isn’t in any way original, its good reception comes down to how the team took an already well-loved product in the market and made it more accessible to customers.
Many can think of creating something, but it requires someone to actually bring it to fruition. Even as more competitors start popping up following Eskem Bites’ success, the brand would still have a first mover advantage.
So long as the brand can remain relevant by introducing more products that trigger people’s nostalgia and keep up with the quality and good customer service via dropshippers, Eskem Bites would have the potential to become a reputable snack brand in the future.
Featured Image Credit: Linda, founder of Eskem Bites