For students who have an entrepreneurial knack, sometimes all they need to look to is a simple pleasure for inspiration. Two recent Quinnipiac graduates did just that.
Gregory Robinson, a 2004 Quinnipiac alum, and business partner Christian Contreras got the idea for their venture during a routine gym workout.
“We’re always talking about ideas and new businesses and expanding,” Robinson said. “Most of them are usually just ideas and they never take off, but [that day] I was like ‘listen I got a good idea and you got to trust me on it.'”
Contreras is also a 2004 graduate and is currently attending QU finishing up his MBA. He had an epiphany with the idea after Robinson shared his initial thoughts.
“It’s so simple,” Contreras said. “We just sell cookies and brownies. We were both so excited we just couldn’t stop talking about it. We just left the gym. Within two days, we completed the build of the website and a week and half later we were ready to sell.”
By mid-March 2009, the delivery service, which they named University Cookies, was open for business. Students can order in cookies or brownies and have them delivered to their dorm. The service starts at 8 p.m. and the last call is at 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights.
In the beginning, Robinson and Contreras were willing to deliver Friday and Saturday nights but not enough student interest was put forth.
“There’s nothing else for students to eat when the Bobcat Den closes other than pizza and wings late at night,” Robinson said. “This is where you can get your sweets during the week.
“When I was in college, my roommate and I; our thing was to have a late night snack of milk and cookies. I mean, what’s better than having hot cookies and brownies brought to you?”
For the next school year, Robinson and Contreras are hoping to find a store front.
“We’ve been shopping around for property,” Contreras said. “We’re looking around two places actually; one on Whitney and another on Dixwell. Our goal is to open a store front by September. Ideally, if we quickly close in on an offer sooner, we were thinking about selling smoothies during the hotter months.”
Contreras said Quinnipiac prepared him well for entering the business world.
“When I was going to school as an undergrad I still can recall some of my professors here who helped me out a lot and are still my mentors,” he said. “I think Quinnipiac has done me good.
“When you start a business, make sure you do it because you like it and because you enjoy it. If you’re just after the money, it won’t succeed. Our focus for University Cookies is the college [crowd] and that the cookies and brownies are made fresh and warm when delivered. Fresh is really the key.”
Robinson also gave advice for those who are interested in starting a business.
“I think the key to starting a business is to do something simple, something you like, and do it right,” Robinson said. “The more material you need the more cost goes into making the product which takes longer for you to profit. So start off simple. When you start to grow that’s when you can start adding more.”