Johns Hopkins Student Start-Up Creates “the Starbucks of Chocolate Truffles”

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It began with cocoa powder, heavy cream, and a communal kitchen in a sophomore dorm; just a few months later, Johns Hopkins student Jamasen Rodriguez’s chocolate company had $100,000 in start-up money, and was named one of Inc. Magazine’s coolest college start-ups of 2013.

Rodriguez, a long-time chocolate lover, has big plans:  He wants to be the Starbucks of fancy chocolate treats. That may sound ambitious, but the Johns Hopkins student from has already managed to sell his truffles to five local restaurants and wine bars; he’s using that new start-up money (from California restauranteur Tom Gallo) to hire on three fellow Hopkinites, and he just signed a three-year lease on an Arbutus building where he plans to open his first storefront. “I want to open as many shops in urban centers as possible and micro-brand each one to embrace the culture of that city,”  Rodriguez told Inc. “Each one will be way different.”

(Rodriguez also holds the world record for the lunge mile, which is exactly what it sounds like — dipping down to one knee on alternating legs, for a mile. World Record Academy describes it as “an exercise in excruciating leg pain.” Rodriguez did it as a senior in high school, and it took him 25 minutes, 21 seconds, or 1,370 lunges. “He’s always taking on the world,” sister Melissa Rocha told World Record Academy. “Just one against the world, that’s Jamasen.”)

Rodriguez and his business partners — all freshmen or sophomores — were finalists in last year’s business plan competition at Johns Hopkins. They can’t open the shop for regular hours yet, since they’re all still in school. But look out for Jama Cocoa to open sometime in May… and until then, you can buy the truffles online from jamacocoa.com. Options include



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