Dreamcatcher Cookies Summer Week 2

This week I’ve spent some time thinking about Dreamcatcher Cookies Operations. The biggest struggle has been delivering the cookies within a reasonable amount of time. It takes me 12 minutes to bake, about two minutes to package and put in a delivery bag, and it takes the delivery person 5-10 minutes to deliver. In order to reduce time, I want the cookies to be pre made, or I am also considering renting an office to make Dreamcatcher Cookies a coffee/cookie shop rather than a delivery business. However, the issue with that would be competing with Summit, a local business that already has a fairly good head start. Another problem is keeping track of expenses. I need to start tracking my expenses on an excel sheet more religiously.

Dreamcatcher Cookies Summer Week 1

Since no sales are made in the summer, I am working on some marketing tools in order to increase customer acquisition. The main focus right now is the logo. I want to have a logo that’s memorable and will make people feel like they’re eating cookies from back home, with a twist (the flavors are unique). I would prefer the logo to be cool colors since it is a nocturnal service, and because I want people to eat them and feel calm, collected, and ready to get back to studying. Within the next month, I will hire a graphic design company to make a logo and business cards for Dreamcatcher Cookies.

Dreamcatcher Cookies First Month Summary

So far, the goal for the semester has been to get my business’ name out there. I have been fairly successful, because a lot of people I don’t know have approached me and complimented my cookies or asked ” Are you the cookie man?”. However, more than anything I’m struggling operationally. I have not been able to be consistent with my hours of operations, I have failed to find a stable delivery person, and I have yet to find a commercial kitchen that will be worth the expense. I have just received the failure fund money, so there are a few goals I need to accomplish in the summer. 1) I will need to buy a Costco membership in order to experiment with variable expenses and flavors. 2) I will search for potential commercial kitchens in the area or find the means to make my own with the money I’m making from my internship. 3) I will work on licensing and getting incorporated towards the end of the summer, because I will not be selling until next semester. 4) I will run a statistical analysis on each cookie in order to determine the best steps in terms of marketing the cookie.

Initial steps: First Cut

About a week ago I got the idea to start a small haircutting business on campus because I was disappointed with the haircut I received in Davidson, and the price tag that came with it. I was inspired to provide haircutting services to Davidson students at an affordable price, and at a relatable level. I wanted to create an environment where students could engage in conversation, listen to good music, and fulfill their need for a new haircut. My supplies came a couple days ago, and last night I gave my first client a cut, for free. Here in these initial stages I aim to develop my skills, build a small clientele organically, and establish strong relationships with these few clients I service. After this first cut, I learned a whole lot, and got even more excited about the prospect of the haircutting venture. The challenge I am currently facing is (a.) where I will cut hair in the future, and (b.) how I can most effectively develop my haircutting skills. All in all, it was a mutually satisfying first haircutting experience, and I look forward to many more.

Pasta ‘Cuz: Week 2

This week Pasta ‘Cuz had it’s opening night to students. Leading up to Wednesday we were doing last minute problem solving and getting excited. We decided to hire a person specifically for delivery, and we found the perfect person in our friend Tony. It was reassuring to have a third hand to help. On Tuesday night we had a trial run and made two servings of pasta with our tomato basil sauce and our pesto sauce. We worked out how much sauce and pasta goes into each serving and how we would operate out of our small kitchen space. We were excited but so nervous for Wednesday. We spent most of the day precooking pasta and spreading the word about our business. Before we knew it, the website opened for orders at 11 pm, and our crazy night of preparing pasta began. Within the first 9 minutes, we had received over 40 orders. Our success was bittersweet – we were overwhelmed and unprepared to take on so much business. We cooked frantically for 2 hours, fulfilling about 85 orders, and were sprinting around delivering until 2 am. On Thursday we made three main goals for next week: faster delivery time, larger serving sizes, and a fork with each box of pasta. Although we weren’t able to execute all those goals for every order on Wednesday, we are excited about knowing exactly what we need to do to get there. We have decided to precook not only pasta, but boxes of already sauced pasta. We will begin taking orders (but not deliveries) an hour earlier, and tape forks to each pasta box. A few other roadblocks have presented themselves to us: first we need to find a larger kitchen space that is licensed, and Pasta ‘Cuz needs to become a legal entity. We are currently tackling those challenges and are excited for a more prepared week next Wednesday! 

-Grace Leonhardt

Pasta ‘Cuz: Week 3

This was our second week of delivering for Pasta ‘Cuz.  Our three main goals for the week were to have larger portion sizes, faster delivery, and make sure that each serving came with a fork.  We started our week by trying to figure out what we could do to appease any of the upset customers that we had from the first week.  We knew that the way we presented our business wasn’t what we wanted, and we needed to take steps towards ensuring our customers that we held ourselves to a higher standard.  After talking it over with a few of our advisers, we decided to email every person who put in an order during our first week and offer them 50% off a serving of pasta in the coming week.  We carefully drafted an email explaining ourselves and making the offer.  When Wednesday night came, we began cooking pasta at 4pm.  We cooked 15 servings ahead of time.  We went back to the kitchen at 9pm and started cooking again.  At 10pm, we started taking orders and we began to prep those servings.  To keep them warm, we put the boxes in the oven on a low heat.  Our delivery people showed up around 10:45 and we had steady business for about 120 minutes from 10-12am.  We were really careful to make sure that every portion was large, quickly delivered, and had a fork.  We ended up with just over 50 orders, 20 of which we think were people using the $2.50 deal.  All in all, we have gotten a good response from people.  Our biggest challenges now are navigating the legal side of the business while maintained good execution and quality of our product. We are really happy with how our second week of serving pasta went and are intrigued to see what interest we will get next week.

-Maggie Spiller

Pasta ‘Cuz: Week 4

We are officially three serving weeks into Pasta ‘Cuz! Leading up to this week, we were focused on the hard needs of creating a company. Since we felt we addressed our three goals of bigger portions, faster delivery, and including a fork last week; this week we turned to the legal issues of creating Pasta ‘Cuz, the company. We put in hours of research on LLCs, a full day of business boot camp provided by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship office, and research to find a licensed kitchen space – all while juggling midterms. The good and bad news is we are now in the waiting game and can’t do anymore to help our company. We have to wait to hear back from North Carolina on our status as an LLC and hope to hear from the auxiliary services of Davidson College to potentially base our business out of Summit Outpost Coffee Shop. It was a nice return to the simplicity of making pasta on Wednesday night. Operations and delivery were smoother than ever before. Our team, including our amazing delivery staff, have figured out how to be efficient and make delicious pasta! Since we had less orders than last week (and opening week), we hope to redirect efforts back into marketing after we come back from spring break. Creating new posters and an Instagram should get the word out to more people and result in a growth of customers. Overall, it was a great success. We are happy to take a week off, but can’t wait to come back to school and jump into week 5!

-Grace Leonhardt

Pasta ‘Cuz: Weeks 5 and 6

These last two weeks of Pasta ‘Cuz have been really crazy.  Last week, we had not yet secured the kitchen in Summit and reached out desperately to our friends to use their cooking spaces.  Thankfully, a few generous souls offered up their stoves and ovens and we carted all of our supplies down the hill for a night of cooking.  We had spent the previous week working on legal issues and a new marketing scheme to try and increase our order numbers.  We definitely got some interest, but our order numbers stayed around 40.  On one hand, we were really happy with this number.  We were able to execute flawlessly and a lot of the orders we got were repeat customers, which we know is a really good sign.  However, we knew that we could handle a larger number of orders for the next week.

We began to brainstorm ideas of how we could break into another sector of the market.  Eventually, we decided on offering free samples in the union on Wednesday afternoon.  This allowed us to put faces to the name “Pasta ‘Cuz” and also peaked interest of people walking through the union.  A fair number of people stopped to try our pasta, and it seemed to be an effective method, because our order number rose up to 50 this past week.  We are still brainstorming new ideas to continue order growth in the coming weeks.  

In terms of a kitchen, we found out last Friday that Davidson has reworked their legal roadblocks and we are able to use the kitchen at Summit! This is great news, but means that we still have much more to do.  We submitted the LLC formation papers and are still waiting to hear back on the status of our future company.  We also met with a representative from Summit to discuss the expectations from us as a business using their space.  Once we are able to get in contact with the right lawyers and insurance agents, we should be able to get in Summit right away.  These past two weeks have been so crazy, but we have also made huge strides forward in multiple sectors of our business!

-Maggie Spiller

Pasta ‘Cuz: Week 7

Another busy week for our growing company!  We had a lot of background situations that we needed to take care of and finalize such as legal issues, getting insurance, and focusing on how Pasta ‘Cuz will continue in the next year. These are the types of things that Grace and I didn’t realize we would be learning about when we applied for this grant. We are still trying to navigate the behind the scenes business waters to be successful.  Because these issues took up so much of our time this week, we were less active on social media and reminding our customers to order. This definitely caused a decrease in our orders this week.  While on one hand this is really disappointing, we know that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our business can survive in the long-term and are happy we still have repeat customers.  We have now officially secured an incorporated status, along with official insurance!  We are still working on upgrading our website to handle our orders in the best way, but the amount of progress that we have made in the seven weeks since we started this process has been really unbelievable.  Grace and I have both learned so much in fields we had no prior experience in and can now both officially say that we are entrepreneurs!  There is no doubt we will still have bumps along the road in the future, but now we know that we are prepared and have the support system to handle any of the issues that we are faced with.

-Maggie Spiller