Morse Toad is the brain-child of Dicky Broadhurst, who was inspired by a 10,000km bike ride and a thoughtful gesture from his mum along the way.
Dicky Broadhurst had just been made redundant from what he describes as a 'boring city job' in 2010 when he was leafing through the paper and something caught his eye. It was an advert posted by a young woman who wanted to cycle from Cairo to the World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa. Not surprisingly, her mum wouldn't let her go alone so she was looking for companions. Within weeks, Dicky was setting off with a group of strangers on a five month cycling expedition.
Little did he know, the trip would change his life.
But after camping by roadsides, it didn't take Dicky long to realise he'd forgotten two important items; a mosquito net and a bike pump. He asked his mum to ship them to the British embassy in Sudan, which she did, as well as throwing in a couple of chocolate bars as a supportive gesture. But by the time the parcel arrived, the group had moved on, so it was forwarded to Kenya and then finally, on to South Africa, where it was collected months later.
"It's safe to say the chocolate had seen better days," says Dicky. "But it got me thinking about how powerful it is to send something in the post, from cards to flowers and presents. With the onslaught of instant digital communication, I felt this form of tangible communication was more important and meaningful."
Dicky's trip raised £9,000 for the charity LandAid but it had also left him with an idea he was keen to nurture, so in 2014 he established Morse Toad. "I wanted to create something that people could customise themselves, they could order quickly and easily from their device, and it would fit through the letterbox," said Dicky. "Chocolate was the obvious starting point, so I began to learn how to make it. I then came up with the name and I set about creating my first product: a wedding favour for my wedding. Before long I was armed with a chocolate machine and had set up camp in my parent's basement, and by Christmas I had something to sell."
The idea was popular from the outset and Dicky was approached early on by Not On The High Street, now a partner. "With them acting as our marketing channel, we were able to develop and improve the product to its current form," said Dicky. After a period of testing, the business officially launched in February 2015. Within a month, he managed to get out of his parents basement and into his current unit in a local business park. The business has since seen continuous growth and Dicky took on his first staff member on in May 2015, adding further part-time staff in September.
"Our goal is to provide people with an entertaining way to communicate," said Dicky. "From birthday wishes and engagements, to thoughtful gestures, to banter amongst friends. We hope to empower people to create their own personal messages that will brighten up someone's letterbox." The company recently added the photograph functionality that allows you to have a printed photograph of your choice on a card with the box of chocolates. So far they've had all sorts of requests, with one lady sending 'Hooray It's A Boy' with a picture of her baby scan and lots of people sending family pictures over Christmas. "We've had a marriage proposal, a break-up, even someone handing in their notice," said Dicky. "The chocolate can act as a wonderful punch-line to what you're trying to say, and I challenge anyone not to grin when they receive a personal message in chocolate."
For more information, visit www.morsetoad.com