“The joy of success will outweigh the disappointment of failure.”
Me want cookie! ~ Cookie Monster
If we’re honest – really honest – we would admit that there is a little bit of Cookie Monster in all of us. And let’s be real, there have been times when, like the Cookie Monster, all we can muster are three simple words… me want cookie!
But what if you could squelch that cookie craving with a Texas Two-Pound Chocolate Chip Cookie that’s the size of your face?
Whether you have a hankering for a colossal two-pounder or a craving for a more unassuming dozen, Madi Smyser of Madi’s Munchies can take care of your inner Cookie Monster.
Madi’s Munchies is a fabulous little cookie haven in Austin, Texas, that provides a respite for those struggling with an uncontrollable cookie craving. But what makes Madi’s Munchies different from any other bakery, aside from the obvious two-pounder? Madi, the founder and CEO of Madi’s Munchies is a 17-year-old who just completed her junior year at Vandegrift High School just outside of Austin. You read that right. The mastermind behind Madi’s Munchies and the gargantuan two-pound cookie is a high school student.
And it all started with a case of the munchies – Madi’s munchies. During the fall of 2016, Madi hopped into the kitchen to whip up a batch of homemade granola bars to pack in her lunch. With a little bit of this and a little bit of that, the end result was a mighty tasty bar. Madi wasn’t the only one whose taste buds did flips for the bars. Others liked them too. In early 2017, as any budding entrepreneur would do, Madi started selling the bars in her neighborhood.
But what do people like even more than made-from-scratch granola bars? Cookies. Folks really, really like homemade cookies…fresh-from-the-oven homemade cookies, to be more specific.
Madi adjusted her entrepreneurial focus to baked cookies. On random Friday or Saturday nights, she would bake and hand deliver warm, chocolate chip cookies to the cookie-craving folks in the neighborhood. And thanks to the wildfire, word-of-mouth effect of Facebook, folks actually started tracking Madi down for her cookies. It was kind of like a modern-day, viral Where’s Waldo hunt. Well, except it was Madi and not Waldo and instead of a “woohoo I found Waldo” it was a “woohoo I nabbed hot, fresh chocolate chip cookies.”
Madi was on her way to being a bonafide cookie-baking aficionado. She knew what her customers liked and she had a solid customer base. But could she do more? That was the $100,000 question.
In August 2017, Madi accompanied her dad to the Success Summit real estate conference where renowned real estate coach and speaker Tom Ferry was the keynote speaker. During a Q&A session with Ferry, Madi asked some general business questions concerning her cookie-baking business. Ferry provided some insightful thoughts, but also offered up a challenge. If Madi can sell $100,000 of cookies and other baked goods by the 2018 Summit gathering and keep up her grades in the process, Ferry said he would give Madi $5,000. He would give her $1,000 at the $50,000 sales mark and the remaining $4,000 when she hit $100,000.
The challenge was accepted.
And it just so happened, someone from Tom Ferry’s inner circle had a close connection to a producer for the the Rachael Ray Show. Madi took Ferry’s advice to heart and sent a package of cookies to New York for the producers to try. On November 9 a head producer of the Rachael Ray Show contacted Madi. She provided footage of actually whipping up a batch of Madi’s Munchies cookies and the segment ultimately aired on the Rachael Ray Show on December 4.
The accolades continued. A couple months after her debut on the Rachael Ray Show, Madi received second place recognition in the third annual Baylor Youth Entrepreneur Awards. Through this program, Baylor’s Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise recognizes young entrepreneurs from across the country and provides these students with an opportunity to network and explore options as they pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Growing a successful business so quickly certainly came with an array of challenges. In order for Madi to have the type of business she wanted, access to a commercial kitchen was imperative. She tried out a couple of different kitchens, each with different issues and idiosyncrasies before she finally settled on the one she is currently using. She had to decide what exactly she needed in a kitchen before she could choose the right one.
The next hurdle was finding the time and money for all of the certifications, permits and licenses required to sell baked goods on a larger scale. Prior to the agreement with Ferry, Madi operated business under the Texas Cottage Food Industry Laws, which allowed for baking to be done in a house. Madi could also sell directly to customers with only a Food Handler’s certification. Madi’s Munchies outgrew that, and Madi had to obtain a Food Manager license accompanied by other permits and routine inspections.
Madi’s Munchies are currently sold in four, local Dan’s Hamburgers locations in the Austin area. Short-term, Madi would like to get her cookies into more restaurant settings. However, she has somewhat broadened her vision. While the initial door-to-door, consumer based business model is what made Madi’s Munchies what it is today, Madi is seeing more potential with a business-to-business strategy. Madi says, “I want to build a successful business and continue to learn from it…every day.”
But the challenge with Ferry had two conditions. The first condition was $100,000 in sales and the second was to maintain good grades. Madi admits it has been hard at times to juggle her growing business along with school work. Afterall, junior year is certainly no walk in the park. Time management is something she is learning and mastering. Madi’s objective is to make the most of every single minute of each day.
Madi says, “Starting a new business is hard, but it’s so worth it if you really love what you’re doing.”
Madi loves what she’s doing and her customers love her cookies. It’s a win-win that even the hangriest Cookie Monster would have to agree!
2018 Baylor Youth Entrepreneur Award Top Three Finalists
Marshall Adams, Nishka Ayyar, Riya Gupta, Madi Smyser
2018 Youth Entrepreneur Award Finalists
Marshall Adams of Texas Snow Waco (First Place Recipient)
Madi Smyser of Madi’s Munchies (Second Place Recipient)
Nishka Ayyar and Riya Gupta of PromElle, LLC (Third Place Recipient)
Ryan Gabriel of KOLD Wear
Gina Marie Grieb of G&G Pressure Washing
Walt Horton of Blue Valley Fly Fishing
Will Penningwerth of Spark3D
Kyndal Sligh of Red Barn Genetics
For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.