In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and innovators working on our next generation of new business startups, social enterprises and small businesses.

At a glance

Founder: Thomas Netana Wright

Business: Ao Cacao

Founded: 6 November 2021

HQ: Auckland

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Ao Cacao is a unique conscious chocolate experience. Building on the 3 Michelin star global experience we have, our goal is simple: to educate, innovate and deliver the ultimate conscious chocolate experience to our customer.

What is conscious chocolate? We call our blend conscious chocolate because we feel that the chocolate industry for centuries has been misguided with smoke and mirrors in regards to ethics. We believe in full transparency in the chocolate making process, right down to traceability of where our beans came from for our chocolate, right down to who picked and farmed our cacao whilst paying above the fair trade price, and giving back to our farmers creating a chocolate circular economy.

We only work with Pacific cacao, as indigenous chocolate makers, we are the change we wish to see.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

Coming from a diverse background of Jewish and Māori heritage. A son of a baker and a descendant of the famous Wright’s Dairy from Chelsea in London, our founder started his career over a decade ago as a pastry chef and chocolatier training in London and overseas, working right through to 3 Michelin stars.

Tom’s dream was always to create a chocolate brand that delivers on everything it says from taste and aesthetics to how we conduct our business and help our community.

What programmes, learning or mentoring have been of assistance so far?

  • Read… Read…. Read… never stop absorbing knowledge but remember knowledge is useless unless it’s applied. Filter what you need with everything you learn and apply.
  • Push yourself into uncomfortable situations that will benefit your growth such as an accelerator or mentorship. A dream without action is a dream.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Trial and error is key to growth and what you do today might not be what you do next year, as progression is vital but these steps are needed to reach the levels you desire.
  • Book: Atomic Habits by James clear is the biggest game changer for me.


Supporter Spotlight: Offers and services from NZ Entrepreneur supporters!


Hybrid Bikes


PowerUp Podcast Season Three: Highlighting remarkable Taranaki entrepreneurs

You might also like...