Modern-Day Willy Wonka Jake Karls is Building a Snack Empire

By Lance Chung

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Jake Karls

Mid-Day Squares

Our seventh annual GLORY 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech pioneers and healthcare heroes to beauty entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.


In our series of one-on-one interviews, get to know the honourees a little better: their values, mission, lessons learned, and best advice. 

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Man in orange sunglasses and a graphic short-sleeve button up shirt standing against an orange background with 30X30 in large font.

What is your elevator pitch to the world?

Jake Karls: We created the first functional chocolate bar, a new-age version of a chocolate bar that was actually better for you, had function, but also tasted epic.


We’re the modern day Willy Wonkas. What would Hershey’s, Mars, Nestle or Mondelez look like if they launched in 2023? That’s what we’re trying to accomplish. Something that will take 20 to 30 years to build that will hopefully be around in 100 years—a true legacy! 


Over the last four-and-a-half years, we have built a fully automated chocolate factory that can make up to 90,000 bars per day; we sell our bars in over 4,500 stores across North America; we have officially sold over 20 million chocolate bars and we’re a team of 62 amazing people based in Montreal, Quebec. 


My purpose on this journey is to to show the world that you can win at anything you do by being unapologetically yourself everyday.


What excites you most about the work that you are doing?

Jake Karls: The most exciting part of this journey is that I get to build this chocolate empire with family. My two partners are my sister and brother-in-law. There is nothing more fun than being part of a crazy rollercoaster ride with the people that you love. We get to experience crazy highs and wild lows together. It creates a deeper bond.


Where do you think you have made the most impact in your industry and/or community?

Jake Karls: I truly believe that our radically transparent storytelling and showing our consumers everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) about building this business is changing the way our industry views marketing. It seems like more and more brands in our industry are taking a more authentic approach to their marketing. 

Jake Karls in a white sweat suit and yellow sunglasses. He is standing against a grey background and beside him is a block of text that is a quote. In the top corners are logos.

What is one lesson that you hope people will learn or walk away with from your work?

Jake Karls: The greatest lesson that folks can walk away with is that it’s possible to win at whatever you do by being unapologetically yourself everyday. 


When we first started the business, I felt the pressure to be like everyone else or follow “the standard playbook.” The idea of playing it safe was around me everywhere. As time went on, I learned to block all the noise and focus on what makes me great. I realized that being myself was a superpower. 


When you finally start being yourself, that is the moment you start to really win.


What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur? 

Jake Karls: My proudest moment on this journey was when we at Mid-Day Squares officially opened up our chocolate factory. We went from making 80 chocolate bars per day in our condo kitchen to being able to make 90,000 bars per day in our factory. 


This is special because at the beginning everyone, from experts to friends, told us not to build out our own factory. That it wasn’t worth the capital or it might not be possible. 

My sister built this factory against all odds and today we operate in there!


What is a misconception about your work, industry, or community that you hope to dispel?

Jake Karls: The biggest misconception about what we’re doing is the size we can get to. Everyone told us that it’s impossible to build a chocolate company that can rival the size of Hershey’s. 


Every year we get closer and closer to showing that it is possible to build the next Hershey’s. All you need is a great product, luck, a great team, strong execution, a good story and grit.

Jake Karls wearing a graphic button up short-sleeve shirt and orange tinted sunglasses. Below him is a brown block of space with a quote within it.

Why does your work matter?

Jake Karls: We’re hopefully inspiring the next generation to be bold and be themselves. To not be afraid to take big risks and bet on themselves.


What have you learned about yourself as you’ve built your company and raised your voice?

Jake Karls: I learned that therapy is a powerful tool in life. When we started the business, my partners and I made a promise that we would see a business therapist once per week in good or bad times. At first, I was so skeptical because I thought that therapy was for people with issues. After going to my first session, I fell in love with therapy. Four years later, I go one to two times per week. It has become a tool to make me a better person, better leader, and a better communicator. Therapy is sexy!!!  


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What is a major career goal that you have set your sights on and hope to accomplish in 2023?

Jake Karls: To become the number one selling chocolate bar in our category in North America! 


What is the best advice you have for aspiring entrepreneurs based on your own experience?

Jake Karls: To always trust your gut and be unapologetically yourself everyday. Be proud of who you are!

Brown block of colour with a long quote in white writing. In the corner is a Glory Professional (left) and 30x30 (right) logo.

What does GLORY mean to you?

Jake Karls: Glory means winning! It’s the feeling of all the handwork you put into your vision.