“Adventure with Purpose“
So what’s perfect for a Tuesday afternoon study snack, a Friday night movie nosh and a Saturday morning breakfast? Donuts, of course! And what’s better than a plain ol’ donut? A donut made with crescent dough! And where can you find such a mouth-watering, eat until you’ve popped a pant button delicacy? Nightlight Donuts in Waco, Texas.
You would think that in order to create such a unique and one-of-a kind morsel of delight that one would most certainly be a sort of donut or pastry aficionado. You would think. When Jackson Wren came up with the idea of Nightlight Donuts, his experience with donuts was… eating them. Eating a lot of them actually.
Not that starting a business was a new idea for Jackson. He’s a natural-born entrepreneur. Jackson and his twin brother founded Dapper Bear while still students at Baylor, and Dapper Bear just happens to be the home of the official Baylor plaid. But how does one journey from plaid to donuts?
Jackson shares all the details of his Nightlight Donuts adventure in an Ask the Entrepreneur interview.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how one journeys from plaid to donuts.
I started my first business when I was thirteen because I wanted to buy a car one day. My brother and I started a car detailing service. That was my first taste of entrepreneurship. From that point on I loved it.
I started Dapper Bear (Baylor’s official plaid) as a student at Baylor. To me, the switch from plaid to donuts is not so much about the industry but it’s more about making someone’s day better. I saw a way to do that with both the plaid and donuts.
Why did you decide to open a donut shop in Waco, Texas?
About four years ago I was driving to Austin and was stuck in horrible traffic. Cars were at a stand-still. I saw a donut shop nearby. If you’re like me when you see a donut shop, you immediately want a donut. But it was 6:00 pm and the donut shop was closed. Why are donut shops always closed at night?
My brother and I moved to New York City and lived there for about a year. We just so happened to get an apartment that was above a donut shop that sold cronuts. I was immediately obsessed. I ate a cronut every day we lived there. When we moved back to Waco we had an idea… maybe we should bring a crescent donut to Waco.
What was your thought process in deciding to start a business in such a competitive industry?
I gave that a lot of thought. I put a lot of planning and research into it. Being such a competitive industry is intimidating, but helps you maintain focus.
What do you do to make sure that Nightlight Donuts is different from any other donut shop in Waco?
Our product and our people make us different. Product, all of our dough is crescent dough. People, we have four values for our business: 1) be kind 2) be individual 3) be exceptional 4) own it. Everything we do goes back to those values. We hit the jackpot with our staff!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes. I completely over estimated the time I had available for starting the business.
What was it like starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic?
The week we broke ground on Nightlight Donuts was the same week everything started to shut down. It was an incredible amount of stress. We really didn’t know what to do. We kept going because I believed in our product and I believed in the Waco community.
Did being a student entrepreneur help prepare you for this venture?
There are so many things we did with Dapper Bear that we did differently with Nightlight Donuts.
How did studying entrepreneurship at Baylor prepare you to start your own business?
The real world experience that the Baylor entrepreneurship department provides is what prepared me the most.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during this entrepreneurial journey?
You should resolve to not waste life.
What advice would you give to a Baylor student wanting to start a business while still in school?
Research like you’ve never researched before. If you feel like it can still work, then go do it.
Finish this sentence – entrepreneurship means to me…
Entrepreneurship means to me… adventure with purpose.
For the complete interview, please visit the Baylor Baugh Center YouTube page at https://bit.ly/3qIwboZ.
For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.