STARTUP STORY: MASON JAR COOKIE COMPANY

STARTUP STORY: MASON JAR COOKIE COMPANY

Mason Jar Cookie Company Undiscovered Kitchen Blog

Mason Jar Cookie Company has re-imagined the iconic Mason Jar with fun and easy-to-make mixes for cookies, brownies, granola, pancakes and more, all using wholesome ingredients. 

The Mason Jar Cookie Company’s mission is to give anyone, whether they’re a master baker or rookie in the kitchen, the ability to make and enjoy delicious, made-from-scratch baked goods!

The idea for the company was a “happy accident” for founder David Ferguson. David initially launched a web-based platform at the IdeaLab at ClearMetrics in New York, which allowed people to customize products and personalize manufacturing.

While demonstrating and testing the platform, customers were able to choose the ingredients, packaging, and labels in order to create a custom cookie mix – The personalized baked goods were a huge hit! With some tweaks to the platform, David brought Bruce on board and the two ran with the idea!

Mason Jar Cookie Company Undiscovered Kitchen Blog

The Mason Jar Cookie Company mixes are packaged in both reusable Mason jars and soft pouches, and only require fresh dairy, or an egg and butter substitute:

Some of our favorite flavors include:

MASON JAR COOKIES | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOG

MASON JAR COOKIE COMPANY | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOG

Who are the business founders and when did you launch the business?

David Ferguson, who brought the fledgling concept out of his New York-based idea lab ClearMetrics, made The Mason Jar Cookie Company a specialty mixes company with a recognized brand. The first sale was Thanksgiving Day of 2011, and we consider that the official first day of business, although it had been in development for a long time before that. Since then, Bruce Renick, former President of Chaps Ralph Lauren, and who has presided over the growth of other global brands, has joined the company as its President.

What inspired you to start your business? Was there a particular moment?

It was a happy accident – we had built a web-based platform that allowed a customer to choose their own features for any product and personalize its manufacture – from bicycles to swing sets to gift baskets. In trying to demonstrate it, we “invented” a cookie company where a user could decide what ingredients went in the jar and then personalize the jar itself, giving it a name and note. Long story short, the cookies sold, the software didn’t. Our moment came when we saw sales jump from six jars the day we launched to 3,000 jars in six weeks, and retailers were calling us to develop a retail line. We then traded our keyboards for aprons and the rest, as they say, is cookie history.

Where do you currently make your product and what did you find the process of finding a kitchen to be like?

We are a completely 100% USA made product. We have several co-packers in the US – we rely on experts in food industry management including sourcing, supply chain management, manufacturing, quality assurance, logistics, and shipping. These great partners and their food certifications make it possible for us to focus on our brand and flavor profiles. Our co-packers are in the northeast, southeast, mid-west and west to service the favored distribution centers and international departure points of our products. We ask our facilities to give preference in hiring US military veterans, and one facility uses only disabled US veterans.

Did you have a background in the food or drink industry when you started? 

I was an expert cookie consumer, but my business was Internet software and branding. I had been in the tech space since 1981 and founded one of the first web development and consulting firms in San Francisco in 1993. We helped really big brands appropriately extend their mainstream bricks-and-mortar brands to the digital space. With The Mason Jar Cookie Company™, we did the same thing, just in reverse. We created a new and unknown brand in the digital space and brought it mainstream to the global marketplace to brick-and-mortar. Backwards was more fun.

A business idea that was left on the editing room floor?

Of all the ideas, one makes it. The other trillion are left behind and quickly forgotten. The key to success is to edit, edit, edit and be willing to leave the great idea behind in favor of the right idea.

What are some examples of rookie mistakes you made?

One mistake was assuming what customers would want instead of letting them tell us – for example, our peanut butter cookie. Just because WE love it, doesn’t mean it will sell. We never realized that our early adopters were so peanut-allergy-conscious. We stopped trying to guess early on and our software shows us what people design for themselves, so we have a very good sense of what will do well in the marketplace. Sugar and chocolate are pretty much a sure thing.

Your biggest business challenge to date?

The biggest challenge has been finding world-class talent to ensure that we can execute quickly and effectively. The trick is to believe in your business enough to put these high-caliber people in before you need them so that you are ready for the growth. This takes a bit of guts and a lot of capital, but without it you risk everything. If you don’t believe enough in your business and brand, stop.

What’s the strangest customer request or feedback you’ve gotten?

“Strange” is in the eye of the beholder. Total personalization is in our DNA so we actually love all the requests we get from our customers – from color coordinating berries to the wedding dress to having a big wig send a private jet to retrieve custom cases for a party in LA. Since we founded the company to serve the whims of personal taste, we love the challenges.

What’s your main business goal for 2014?

Our continued expansion of the line into US domestic retail and international markets is our main goal.

Where do you see the business in 10 years?

10 years is far too long of a time horizon for any business to predict. If it were possible to project from current momentum, we should be every bit as ubiquitous as global food brands. In any case, we will be fatter in every regard. If I had to guess, we will have installed a gym right next to the test kitchen.

What’s your team or company motto?

Mix. Make. Mmmm.™ The key for all of us, having had full careers in our other lives, is that cookies should be fun. If we’re not having fun, we’re going home. And this is about as much fun as any of us have ever had in business.

Advice for someone starting out with a great artisan food or drink idea?

Do your homework, know what your customer actually wants rather than what you think they want, be willing to leave your ego at the door, and be well capitalized.

TRY THESE MASON JAR COOKIES NOW!

Shop for the Mason Jar Cookie Company (Shipping is always included!)

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MASON JAR COOKIE COMPANY | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOGMASON JAR COOKIE COMPANY | UNDISCOVERED KITCHEN BLOG

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Evona is a passionate foodie, entrepreneur and the founder of Undiscovered Kitchen, a digital farmer’s market for small batch, specialty foods! She loves discovering new foods from around the country and talking to the artisans who make them.


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