Cake Pops and Talking Shop
Daisy Pops founder and alumna Amy Mucha spoke at the inaugural “LunchNET” event on Wednesday, Sept. 20, where Kent State University students were invited to have lunch and learn the secret to a local entrepreneur's success.
Mucha graduated from Kent State in 2015 with a master's degree in education and a specialization in mathematics curriculum and instruction. Her company is a Kent-based cake pop bakery with a unique business model, offering customers “a little pop of joy,” with both mobile and storefront locations. As an entrepreneur she gets to merge her educational training and background with her passion.
“As a former high school math teacher, I love education, and I clearly love cake pops,” Mucha said. “So, I really like when the two of those combine, especially as a downtown Kent business.”
LunchNet is a brand-new speaker series presented by LaunchNET Kent State. Kent State is one of only five collegiate members of NEOLaunchNet, powered by Burton D. Morgan Foundation. Through meetings, mentoring, workshops and events, LaunchNET promotes entrepreneurship and innovation for Kent State students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Alizeh Khalifa, marketing manager for LaunchNET Kent State, hopes the series will empower aspiring entrepreneurs to take their first steps.
“We're going to bring in different local entrepreneurs and those who are just really active and energetic in the entrepreneurial ecosystem around Northeast Ohio and have them speak to the current students and current entrepreneurs that we work with,” Khalifa said. “Hopefully they’ll gain some inspiration and some connections that they can use moving forward.”
Mucha brought bite-sized treats, years of experience and plenty of pop puns to the event. She told attendees the origin story of Daisy Pops spanning all the way from her first, koala-shaped creation to present day pop-erations, which include 20 employees and a weekly average of 2,700 cake pops.
With two pop vans, a pop-cycle and a brick-and-mortar store that opened this year, Mucha’s business is booming, and she had plenty of insights to share with listeners.
“The best piece of advice is, firstly, to surround yourself with people who are further ahead and smarter than you so that you can ask questions of them."
“The best piece of advice is, firstly, to surround yourself with people who are further ahead and smarter than you so that you can ask questions of them,” Mucha said. “And secondly, to just be prepared for a lot of hustling and a lot of work. It’s a lot of late nights, but it'll get you to your goals and then, eventually, you'll be able to start delegating more.”
One notable lesson for Mucha was how to channel setbacks into actions that help support Daisy Pops’ brand values.
"How can I pivot and figure out how to use this problem to our advantage and also make people happy?”
“For Christmas a couple of years ago we had so many extras, so we were able to donate like a couple hundred cake pops to, I think, 14 or 15 local healthcare facilities for either workers or the patients,” Mucha said. “That was just such a good way to get rid of those extra kickbacks. Now, when I hit a problem, I think ‘Okay, it's a problem right now, but how can I pivot and figure out how to use this problem to our advantage and also make people happy?’”
Mucha is looking toward the future of expanding the Daisy Pops brand, which includes some state-of-the-art 3D printing technology and innovation, just as much as she is reflecting on the customers who have supported her journey.
“The Kent State community has really played a big, big role in Daisy Pops."
“The Kent State community has really played a big, big role in Daisy Pops,” Mucha said. “It's very nice to have such a large university in our backyard, and they've been supportive, especially in the past couple of years, of just bringing us out to the lunches, like food truck Wednesday, and a lot of the organizations will order from us … Kent State has been a great part of helping us grow.”
Khalifa invites students to register for the next LunchNET event, which will take place on Nov. 8 in the Design Innovation Hub with speaker Thomas Fox, the president of Greyt Culture, a Cleveland-based, independent arts collaborative.
“We want students to be able to network, build up those connections and get inspiration because they're seeing people who have been in their shoes and are doing what they want to do,” Khalifa said. “These entrepreneurs are out here in the real world, making their ideas and their visions happen.”