After an hour's drive and several stops of our taxi driver to find its way, we finally arrive to a warehouse area in the North suburb of Saigon. The Marou Factory is hidden here between a clothing factory and a paper plant. Behind the banner, modest rooms are overrun by jute bag of cocoa beans. Discretion is required. No one could imagine that this humble place produces the most gourmet delicacies that delight the palates of dark chocolate lovers. Samuel Maruta, co-founder of Marou welcomes us and invites us to a guided tour of his secret garden. On the agenda of the visit: the tasting of cocoa beans, roasting, crushing and grinding, refining, conching and tempering processes. Nothing is missing. In the first room, cocoa beans are roasted and sorted by hand to remove any imperfection. Then we go to a second room where the shredded cocoa gives a homogeneous paste. The cocoa mass must be worked in for days to reduce the size of the cocoa particles. Then the paste is molded in the workshop where no imperfection is allowed. Wrapped in dazzling packaging, the chocolate bars of this production still confidential will be send to the best chefs and grocery stores all around the world.
Back to his office, Samuel Maruta tells us his story. As a young graduate of the Institut des Sciences Politiques de Paris, he enrolled in ESSEC in 1998. Thereafter, he began to work at Société Générale as an assistant of the COO specialized in project finance. The year 2005 was a turning point in his career. Transferred in Vietnam, he quickly falls in love with this country. The banking adventure stops in 2010 but Samuel was not willing to leave his adoptive country. With his best friend Vincent Mourou, he decides to break new ground in an entrepreneurial project taking advantage of his strong experience of the business and political environment in Vietnam. In February 2011 they undertake a tour of the Mekong Delta in scooter. They brought two kilos of cocoa from their journey. In his kitchen, Samuel and Vincent improvised, playing the chocolatiers. The outcome was a respectable one. The success of their experiment convinced them to open a chocolate factory. Vietnamese chocolate' the idea seemed ridiculous almost unthinkable. But Samuel had more than a few tricks up his sleeves. The bean-to-bar concept derived from the microbrewery model, found an audience thanks to a meticulous selection of the best cocoa beans. In order to set the start-up apart from his giant competitors, Marou focuses on bold packaging, well-designed and accessible digital communication and outstanding quality. Marou bets on newness and authenticity.
In October 2011, fearless, Samuel sent samples of Marou chocolate to the Salon du Chocolat in Paris. François Pralus and Pierre Marcolini, two major names of the sector, tested and approved, commending the work of the two entrepreneurs. In October 2012, Marou officially participated in the Salon du Chocolat and won the prize of the young talent.
Today Marou employs 25 people and has a turnover of approximately 1 million euros.
Vietnam has a population of 90 millions of inhabitants. Vietnam is the second exporting country in rice, coffee and mahogany. Vietnamese cocoa is a marginal production which represents a bit less than 5% of the world market.
1992 : Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris
1997 : Enters ESSEC Grande Ecole
2002 : Inspectorate-General of Finances in Société Générale
2003 : Arrive in United Kingdom to manage a leasing company
2005 : Go to Vietnam to develop businesses for the Société Générale
2011 : Launch of the Marou adventure as co founder
2015 : This is not about to stop !