Treatsie: Sweetly Rolling Off Customers' Tongues

by Mark Carter  on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 12:00 am  

Treatsie -- with co-founder Keith Hoelzeman -- ships to customers in all 50 states and will look to expand internationally soon. (Photo by Bob Ocken)

Artisan sweets: The phrase rolls off the tongue like butterscotch. Or perhaps caramel. Little Rock startup Treatsie aims to roll off the tongue like the sweet treat of your choice. 

Treatsie co-founders Keith Hoelzeman and Jamie Walden want to turn their Innovate Arkansas venture into a high-end sweets destination that puts the local makers of artisan candy on the map. 

Founded earlier this year, Treatsie sells $15 monthly subscriptions for sample boxes of artisan candy and other treats from all over the country. For example, its November sample box included salted caramel dark chocolate from Sweeteeth of Charleston, S.C.; a variety of macaroons from Danny Macaroons out of New York City; and something called a “naughty ginger” lollipop from Das Foods of Chicago.

Those with a sweet tooth who aren’t quite ready to buy in to a monthly subscription can try a one-month Treatsie taster box for $5. Treatsie partners with roughly 30 vendors across the country on its monthly subscriptions with more represented in its online store, so there are plenty of choices.

Hoelzeman hatched the idea for Treatsie last year while trying to come up with a gift idea for his wife, Amanda. (Disclaimer: Both Hoelzeman and Walden have ties to Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Amanda is managing editor of ABPG’s Little Rock Soiree and Walden is a former reporter for Arkansas Business.)

“The idea came to me when I was looking for some candy to get Amanda as a gift,” Hoelzeman said. “Something unique and higher-end. When I started looking around, I found that while there are a lot of options out there, most are expensive. It was hard to justify spending a lot on candy that I didn’t know if she would enjoy.”

The “aha” moment came when he noticed his wife’s monthly sample boxes for makeup. 

“I started looking around and talking to confectioners to gauge interest, and the response was positive,” Hoelzeman said. “Most had websites and were searching for ways to drive interest in their products. I knew that I needed help, so I discussed the concept with Jamie one night at dinner and he was in.”

Hoelzeman pitched at a G60 contest in Conway a few months later, received positive feedback, and Treatsie was up and running. Hoelzeman and Walden are both in full-time now, and they’ve hired a freelance developer and a freelance writer for the Treatsie blog. 

Treatsie raised more than $7,000 through Kickstarter earlier this year and recently received a $300,000 investment from Gravity Ventures Arkansas and the Fund for Arkansas’ Future.  

Hoelzeman and Walden perform their own research — i.e., taste testing — and reach out to vendors about being included among Treatsie’s offerings. Sometimes, they don’t need to do the reaching out. 

“We’re getting to the point where vendors are reaching out to us,” Hoelzeman said.



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