For a 20-year-old junior business major, the call to cookies seems like a strange one, especially in an age of simple yet widely popular insta-hits like Flappy Bird. These days, when you think of a young entrepreneur, someone like Mark Zuckerberg may come to mind — nerdy and socially inept — or perhaps the Limitless version of Bradley Cooper — a suave savant who had the world in the palm of his hand. University of South Carolina student Michael Madden, however, is nestled somewhere in between.
He speaks genuinely and with the uncertainty of any new business owner, but there are moments when one sees the spark that started Mook's Cookies, a delivery business the USC student operates right out of his apartment kitchen. So far, it seems that cookies were a perfect fit.
"I wanted to sell something on Twitter and cookies seemed simple enough,” he says. “After class I just randomly started making cookies and they got a pretty favorable reaction."
It's not an official business quite yet (he doesn't have any licenses), but what started as a very small venture in November of last year is slowly gaining traction through the use of traditional advertising methods like placing flyers around apartment complexes and dorm rooms, and through social media. Tinder, a dating app used to quickly find potential partners in a given area, is one way Madden has been able to reach a large audience without paying a dime.
"I'd heard about Tinder and its popularity, so I knew if I put my face on there some girls would like me. Then I would hit them with a free advertisement — key word, free."
It's hilarious, somewhat narcissistic and, above all else, very smart, playing into the duality Madden displayed when interviewed. He is shy yet willing to exploit social media for what it is, an opportunity to connect and interact with as many people as possible. But despite his creative use of media tools, Madden says that additional exposure is something he'll have to continue to develop moving forward.
"I'm also thinking about pizza and breakfast — pancakes, hash browns, everything. Fried chicken? Who knows? But my biggest hurdle would be getting over the hump, so that everyone in Columbia knows my name and what I do."
Thus far Madden's menu mainly focuses on chocolate chip, M&M, Oreo and peanut butter cookies, while occasionally throwing "snickerdoodle-esque cinnamon" variations into the mix. And although he does periodically pay a friend or two to help with deliveries, Madden is the primary baker and courier.
There are, however, a few shops in town that already seem to have a good handle on the cookie business, particularly when it comes to college students. Insomnia Cookies has been around for years and was started in a dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania. Interestingly, Madden hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well. Coincidence? Perhaps, but Madden is not at all worried about the competition.
"The cookies speak for themselves," he says.
Currently, Madden has decided to close his business for the summer, but plans on expanding into other foods, particularly pizza, when his venture reopens. Keep an eye on @MooksCookies for updates.
Fun Fact: Mook's Cookies is named after the character Mookie from Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: email@example.com.
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com