Trading a career in finance for a cookie

Trading a career in finance for a cookie
Trading a career in finance for a cookie   

So-called on demand businesses are on the rise—from car services to cleaners, even marijuana and now, cookies. A new start-up called Doughbies delivers handmade cookies in 20 minutes or less.

Co-founder Daniel Conway says Doughbies are "just like mom used to make, when you need them most."

Recipe for success

Conway traded a career in venture capital for a cookie. But not just any cookie. He's built the start-up around his mom's chocolate chip cookie and the recipe is a secret.

Conway and co-founder Mariam Khan hire local bakers to hand make Doughbies' cookies, which come in chocolate chunk with sea salt or peanut butter, at a commercial kitchen in San Francisco.

"We call ourselves 'the world's largest local bakery.'" Conway added that his product arrives with "that local, fresh from the oven taste."

The freshly baked cookies are delivered with the help of a team of drivers who currently make curbside deliveries to 10 ZIP codes in San Francisco.

The start-up will deliver as few as three cookies or a box of one dozen is $22 with no charge for delivery. Conway said the company's average delivery time is 12 minutes and Doughbies will give customers a store credit if it takes longer than 20 minutes.

But Alicia Syrett, a member of New York Angels, who has mentored more than two dozen start-ups, questioned Conway on whether Doughbies will get eaten up by much bigger competition like Seamless or even the new UberEATS food delivery service.

Conway responded that his niche delivery service runs more efficiently than larger third-party vendors by eliminating the middleman, connecting customers directly to his cookies.

"So our products are always fresher," he said.


Doughbies’ Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt cookies.
Source: Doughbies
Doughbies’ Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt cookies.

Doughbies delivery drivers are independent contractors, and Conway says that gives the company the ability to expand quickly.

However, early stage angel investor Alain Bankier, who co-founded the Saveur Food Group, expressed concerns about the start-up's ability to scale.

But Conway said rapid growth is baked into the Doughbies business model, "Versus cooking on stovetops, we can do thousands of cookies in one oven per hour."

Stephanie Palmeri, a principal at SoftTech VC, said most on demand companies establish mobile access to gain momentum and the lack of a Doughbies mobile app is a real disadvantage for the start-up.

For now, Conway said his clients are getting their cookie-fix via orders placed on desktop. "Our hours are 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. when most of our customers are actually at their desk in the office." But ultimately the start-up said it will be raising funds to go mobile.

Doughbies launched in November 2014 and is an alum of the 500 Startups accelerator program, where it received a $100,000 investment after graduating.

Conway told CNBC his start-up is gross margin profitable, but would not disclose revenue or future fundraising plans.

—CNBC's Kelly Lin and Raimondo Parisi contributed to this story.

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