Chef and chocolatier extraordinaire Phillip Ashley Rix founded his Memphis, Tennessee-based company, Phillip Ashley Chocolates, in 2012.
It didn’t take long for his award-winning confections to attract an impressive client base. Hollywood’s elite came calling with orders for high-profile events and TV guest spots. But sometimes success is its own kind of problem. The company needed to grow if Phillip Ashley were to make the most of what he’d achieved.
Enter UPS Ignite, a newly launched executive education program for diverse small business owners.
The 12-week course, administered by #3 US ranked Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, arrived as a timely opportunity for the entrepreneur. In May, Phillip Ashley Rix was among the inaugural class of 36 to complete the course. Better still, UPS, in collaboration with the Accion Opportunity Fund, recently announced the first 10 winners of the UPS Ignite Grant Program —awarded $10,000 each. Phillip Ashley Rix rose to the top.
“The UPS Ignite Kellogg program is a game changer for entrepreneurs like me who are on the path of scaling up our businesses,” Phillip Ashley Rix said. “The curriculum gave me a deeper insight into principles and methods that I can implement throughout my overall growth strategy.”
Since UPS launched Ignite in 2021, the program has welcomed 140 exceptional business owners, providing business coaching and mentorship, executive training, and on-demand learning resources, as well as essential access to responsible small business capital.
Participants who applied for grants were asked to describe their expansion plans and how they would apply the funds to scale their ventures, from adding staff to production upgrades to marketing outreach and investment. Phillip Ashley Rix’s thoughtful and innovative proposal clearly impressed. Already dubbed by the press as “the real-life Willy Wonka,” the chocolate master is well on his way to living up to the title.
“Receiving the $10K grant, especially during this phase of my business, is truly transformative,” he said. “The funds will allow me to invest in my infrastructure; adding essential equipment that will triple my production. Many thanks’ UPS Ignite!”
– Phillip Ashley Rix – graduate UPS Ignite with Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
Grant winner photograph – Phillip Ashley Rix
Congratulations to Phillip Ashley Rix and the rest of the grant winners!
Ten Grant winner profiles
Adrian Coulter_XL Feet w shoe
Adrian Coulter – Founder and CEO XL Feet Incorporated
If you have large or wide feet, chances are you have already invested years of your life sifting through all kinds of cool boots and shoes on numerous websites and at shoe stores, only to learn the popular styles displayed are not offered in Big and Tall sizes or Wide widths. XLFeet.com offers the most cutting-edge shoes, boots, slippers, socks and insoles in the size and width you are looking for. They are always working to carry as many of the oddball sizes which span 7-13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and extra-wide to EEEEEE as possible.
Lisa Marsh – Owner and Creator of MsPos GFree Inc
MsPsGFree produces delicious, nutritious and healthy gluten-free snack foods that are sold in Whole Foods Market locations, on Amazon and on our ecommerce website. MsPsGFree focuses on females who are between the ages of 35-70, who are mostly women of color and those looking to snack healthier, live longer, move more and eat cleaner. These ladies are usually married or not, may or may not have children but have a desire to take care of themselves to be around to see future generations thrive and grow. These wonderful women have a median income over 50,000, and usually take Yoga, Pilates, and or other courses to improve and maintain their health.
Jen Lyles, Lead Ignitor and Dr. Kathy Spears, Managing Partner of Firesign Inc. Promotional Products & Print
A full-service product and print firm that designs beautifully inspired branded merchandise and promotional materials.
UPS and the nonprofit Accion Opportunity Fund are committed to supporting small businesses across the country. We invite you to explore these additional resources:
Explore small business financing options [aofund.org] through the UPS and Accion Opportunity Fund.
Sign up for free business coaching [aofund.org] and explore resources and trusted advice [aofund.org] on a range of topics from cash flow management to social media marketing, and everything in between.