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.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
Not Your Typical Greek Restaurant
Ariana’s in West Columbia serves up delicious all-natural, low carb dishes, as well as homemade bread and baklava. Come try the best salad dressing in town! Location info and hours here.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
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U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com