CrunchDaddy Popcorn opened for business at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2012. Today we are celebrating the completion of our first six months in the gourmet popcorn business! I’m awed and amazed by the entire experience!
Opening a small business like CrunchDaddy Popcorn means taking a jumbled mess of ideas, distilling them, organizing them as best you can and then executing them in such a way as to bring those ideas to life in the form of a tangible product that people will enjoy. In my case, the fundamentals of CrunchDaddy Popcorn were formed in my mind back in 2007. Reluctance, uncertainty and fear of venturing out into the world of entrepreneurship kept me from marching ahead with those ideas. Thankfully in early 2011 I found the will and determination to give these ideas and dreams the treatment that they deserved. I’m so happy that I did!
Throughout 2011 I also found endless ways to forestall the execution of my ideas for CrunchDaddy Popcorn. I knew very well the failure rate that is associated with start-ups and wanted to do everything humanly possible to insulate myself and my business from any such failures… and I did it to the point of delaying the opening of the business until each and every possible scenario and contingency had been predicted, accounted for and planned for.
I have a close group of friends who act as business mentors, advisers and a marketing coach. One friend in particular was keen on seeing the “big picture” and observing my behavior. Several times a week I would send him an email of some popcorn flavor idea, a widget I discovered on-line or some fragment of a marketing idea that I could use for the business I had yet to open. His usual response was, “That’s great. When are you gonna make some popcorn?”
In his kind and indirect way, my friend was nudging me to stop seeking solutions for every potential issue that I could face and simply to “Do it!”, as the Nike ads say. His previous experience as an business owner had taught him what I now understand as an entrepreneur of only six months: Experience is the best teacher. It is impossible to predict and prepare for all of the learning experiences that you will encounter once you execute your plan.
With only half a year of experience under my belt in running CrunchDaddy Popcorn I am reluctant to wax philosophically or speak as though I am qualified to mentor others in their business pursuits. However, I can admit to having a much greater understanding and appreciation for the wisdom found through reading books on entrepreneurship and listening to the wisdom of those with experience. For someone who has compiled pages upon pages of ideas, notes, product catalogs, logo ideas and research materials, the mantra of “just do it” sounds like a load of inspirational nonsense written for the sake of selling books. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur let me assure you that it’s not.
Experience is your best teacher.
After six months I’m proud to tell you that CrunchDaddy Popcorn is a success! We’ve been truly blessed by the enthusiastic response to our products by customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The worst fear when going into a business like this is, “What if people don’t like it? What if no one buys it?” I knew within a matter of weeks after opening that those fears were not to be realized. To the contrary, we’ve been blown away by the efforts made by our fans to spread the word to other people, to share our products and to re-post and re-tweet our messages. We even have a core group of CrunchDaddy fanatics who have become repeat customers three or four times over! No amount of pre-opening business planning and number crunching could ever account for this kind of organic growth. We’re truly awed and humbled by all of it.
We are especially grateful to each and every one of you who have shown support for CrunchDaddy Popcorn. No matter how big or successful this venture becomes, I will never lose my appreciation and fascination for the fact that so many people have entrusted us to provide them with products and experiences that are of value to them. There would be no CrunchDaddy Popcorn were it not for you. Take a bow, raise a glass and know that you’re part of a special group of people.
We plow ahead into the second half of our first year with more enthusiasm than ever! A round of several new flavors will be announced shortly as well as some new packaging options. CrunchDaddy Popcorn will soon be available for wholesale distribution as well. Wholesale marketing is something completely new for us, but we’re moving ahead with it and looking forward to many lessons learned. Just do it!
Take care and God Bless!
Chief Crunch Officer
Oh, sweet cupcakes… How I love thee…
Now that I am a small business owner and an aspiring food specialist, I enjoy walking into a new food business and taking in the sights and smells, feeling the energy and the passion that it took to build the establishment. You can’t help but let some of that excitement rub off on you and be inspired to even greater things in your own business or dream of ways that this business can enhance your life.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting Adell Cothorne and Bill Kerlina, owners of Cooks ‘N Cakes in Ellicott City, Maryland. Cooks ‘N Cakes specializes in cupcakes… Excellent, fresh-baked and decadently yummy cupcakes that scream, “EAT ME!”
Did I mention that the cupcakes are awesomely delicious? (I say this as I wipe the last of the marshmallow frosting from the corner of my mouth… what’s left of a “S’more Please” cupcake, pictured front/left above).
Say what you want about food fads and the recent rise in popularity of cupcakes. There’s always room in any town for a bakery that can produce fresh products like this, cupcakes that should shame the big chain grocery stores from producing the nasty stuff that they expect us to buy, adorned with rainbow sprinkles and day-glo frosting.
Pictured above are just four of the many flavors that Cooks ‘N Cakes provides:
- front/left: S’more Please - Devils food cake and marshmallow frosting with graham cracker crumb topping
- front/right: Banana Split - Banana cupcake with strawberry and chocolate buttercream frosting and a cherry
- rear/left: Berry Good - Vanilla cupcake filled with strawberries, vanilla buttercream frosting and a strawberry on top
- rear/right: Something’s Bacon - Cornmeal cupcake with bacon infused maple buttercream, garnished with bacon
I admit to thoroughly enjoying each of these cupcakes! Hats off to the chefs for creating these little delights that each have a unique character and taste to them! My favorite was the “Berry Good”… an exceptionally light vanilla cupcake with a delicate buttercream and really showed-off the baker’s skills.
Four flavors down… and how many to go? I can’t see making another trip down Rt. 40 in Ellicott City without stopping in to Cooks ‘N Cakes to try even more flavors. If I need a quick gift or a dessert for unexpected guests, this place will be on my short list, for sure!
Cooks ‘N Cakes is located in at 9251 Baltimore National Pike (Rt. 40) in Ellicott City… In the same building as the big Starbucks. Skip the over-priced baked goods at Starbucks and take home some cupcakes!
The word of the day is “lagniappe”, as it comes with every order made from CrunchDaddy Popcorn!
We include a little something extra with each purchase, usually a sample or two of other flavors or a free upgrade to a larger size of something that you ordered (Did you think that was done by mistake? No no!)
From Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagniappe:
“A lagniappe ( /ˈlænjæp/ lan-yap) is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase (such as a 13th doughnut when buying a dozen), or more broadly, ‘something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.’
The word entered English from Louisiana French, in turn derived from the American Spanish phrase la ñapa (‘something that is added’ ). Although this is an old custom, it is still widely practiced today in Louisiana. Street vendors, especially vegetable vendors, are expected to throw in a few green chillies or a small bunch of cilantro with a purchase.”
(…a look at our fancy new vinyl sign for use at shows!)
Greetings to friends and fans of CrunchDaddy Popcorn!
A company blog like this is worthy of more frequent updates and I promise to post more information from here on. I want for this blog to be the place where the story of CrunchDaddy Popcorn’s evolution is told and where I share the ups and downs of my entrepreneurial venture. Lately there has been much to tell and far too little time to tell it… but that’s a good problem to have!
In order to bring folks up to date with what’s going on at CrunchDaddy Popcorn, I should tackle the question I hear most frequently of late: “How’s it going?”
Overall, for a company that has been open less than five months and being run by a first-time entrepreneur, things are going very well! Prior to opening the company on January 1, 2012 it would have been impossible to make projections as to the quantity and frequency of sales. However, I can say that the volume of business has well exceeded what I would have expected or projected. Further, the amount of repeat business that we are experiencing from customers locally and throughout the U.S. and Canada has been astounding.
With that said, and while I am proud of the progress that CrunchDaddy Popcorn has made thus far, it remains a part-time venture for me. Even though it feels like every waking hour is being spent on some kind of activity for CrunchDaddy Popcorn (and thus feels like a second “full-time” job), the sales volume is not yet sufficient to provide me with a full-time income… but that is the goal, to develop CrunchDaddy into a thriving business that can support me as well as my employees.
The future looks tremendously bright as sales and public acclaim for CrunchDaddy Popcorn products continue on a steadily upward trend. Enthusiastic reviews and comments about CrunchDaddy Popcorn come to us on a daily basis, through social media, our website and email. Positive comments are enough to make any modest entrepreneur pause and reflect on the fact that their products are being well-received and gaining in popularity. It’s been a very gratifying and humbling experience thus far!
As I meet with friends, bloggers and customers, not a week goes by when I do not learn of some new and exciting opportunity for CrunchDaddy Popcorn. As I often tell people, “there is no shortage of ideas and opportunities right now, just a shortage of time and funding.” We are a “boot-strapped” startup, meaning that we created CrunchDaddy Popcorn with personal resources, very little funding and seek to grow the company slowly and gradually from the proceeds of sales rather than traditional funding sources like small businesses loans. To the best of our ability, each phase of our development will progress as we are able to handle the growth and remain self-financed.
If there is a downside to the entrepreneurial experience thus far, it comes from the uncertainty of what the future holds and the difficulty that is inherent in managing growth. Behind the buttery sweet surface there is a swirl of activity that challenges me to keep numerous plates spinning in the air at once without sacrificing the quality of the products. Whether it’s popping popcorn, packaging it, shipping it, delivering it, answering emails or managing social media, there’s ALWAYS something that needs to be done.
Rolling out new flavors and expanding our packaging options are never as easy as they seem. I had to cancel two photo shoots in April (for new products) thanks to the tremendous response that we received to the review of CrunchDaddy Popcorn in HowChow blog. I suppose that’s a good problem to have, being busy fulfilling orders… but I don’t like the feeling of falling behind and not being able to apply my time toward growing the company.
Lastly, I must share my undying gratitude for the incredibly humbling and inspirational comments that people have shared in regards to their experiences with CrunchDaddy Popcorn. I am rarely short on words, but the awesome kindness and words of encouragement that I have received for CrunchDaddy Popcorn have left me speechless. No matter how difficult the task, I’ve been blessed with more than enough well wishes and compliments to keep me going for quite a while!
Thanks for the support and interest in CrunchDaddy Popcorn!
All the Best,