Campus Cakes makes college sweeter
Reposted from Winston-Salem Journal | by Michael Hastings
A group of young entrepreneurs at Wake Forest University is setting out to make campus life a bit sweeter.
Since 2010, Campus Cakes has been delivering cakes and other baked sweets to students on campus.
The business was started as a student entrepreneurship project by Chris Class, Stacey Graf, Matt Kaden and Dave Motta.
It was bought last year by Tyler Pruitt, the CEO, who graduated in May. Pruitt now has an IT fellowship at Wake.
Pruitt owns the company with Ben Duckett and James Hastings, who handle the software and Internet side of the business, and Rae-Yao Lee, a Wake freshman and the district manager. The company also has a campus manager, freshman Nick Toebben.
Campus Cakes is an Internet-based business designed primarily to appeal to parents who want to do something for their child at Wake.
Parents can go online and choose from a wide variety of baked goods. They can customize desserts by ordering particular colors, themes and messages written in icing. They pick a delivery date, pay online and then Campus Cakes' team places the order with a local bakery, picks it up and delivers the cake or other item on campus.
"This is good for parents across the country who want to celebrate their kids' birthdays," Lee said.
Campus Cakes has been working with Dewey's Bakery and Grandma's Sugar Shack.
The company negotiates a discount price with the bakeries, then charges for pickup and delivery.
Ann Wagoner, the owner of Grandma's Sugar Shack on Jonestown Road, said she has made cookies, pies and cinnamon rolls and cakes for Campus Cakes.
"I love it when young people venture out and want to do something different," Wagoner said. So when they came to me and asked, 'Can you work with us?' I said, 'Why, yes, I can.'?"
Jay Pearson, a junior, recently got a surprise delivery of cupcakes for his birthday. He said he knows some of the people involved in the business, but was still happy to get the treats. "I think it's a great idea," he said. "It can be inconvenient to arrange that yourself. A lot of students don't have cars. Or they wouldn't know where to go."
Though some students use the service, Campus Cakes is geared toward parents and is marketed through the parents' section of Wake's website.
So far, the company averages about 10 deliveries a week, but it is already making plans to expand. Pruitt has talked with Salem College about offering the service, and the business hopes to start delivering beyond the campuses, to the general Winston-Salem area, in the future.
Pruitt said he doesn't expect to make money from Campus Cakes, at least not yet. But he does see an opportunity for a franchise – and for promoting entrepreneurship.
Few campuses allow businesses to enter dorms for security reasons, he said. His model involves students running it.
"I thought it was important that we could have students running it and getting experience from running it," he said. "The way I sell this to a university is it's a learning experience for students."