About this episode

This week's featured founder is Michael Coles, founder of The Great American Cookie Company. Michael will share his journey through family hardship and financial ruin, his bankruptcy, and a motorcycle crash that almost destroyed his life. He then takes us through how he started a cookie business, one which would go on to be one of the most successful cookie brands in the country.

Due to the Coronavirus, Michael and I recorded this episode remotely, but I felt like I was sitting right there with him as he walked me through all the various challenges he had to overcome to get to where he is today. We are all fortunate to learn from someone that has (for decades) continued to step up to adversity and push against it. This is Michael Coles’ startup story.

In this episode, you'll hear

  • How at the age of 10, his family lost their home and watched his dad recover from bankruptcy.
  • His first venture was raking leaves. He shared how this experience taught him about monopolies and franchising.
  • He shared fondly about his first mentor, Irving Settler, who owned a department store where Michael worked.
  • Why and how, in his Senior year, he moved to Massachusetts to live with his brother and focus on school.
  • After high school, Michael got a job as a sales representative for a clothing company instead of going the traditional route of college.
  • Grappling with the desire to start his own business, he decided to start a retail company that eventually went bankrupt. He went back to work as a sales rep for a clothing manufacturer. And ultimately, he would go on to launch a clothing company of his own.
  • A trip to the mall to buy snacks for clients introduced Michael to the concept of 'single-food' stores. He immediately bought ingredients to make cookies, and a scale, so he could try to figure out the cost ratio.
  • How a call to a friend to buy out his share of the clothing company would lead to the start of the Great American Cookie Company.
  • Due to lack of oven mitts, their opening day ended with a fire and no cookies to hand out to customers.
  • Six weeks after starting the cookie company, a motorcycle accident nearly took Michael's life. Michael shared his journey openly and how his rehabilitation led him to set three world records for coast-to-coast bike rides.
  • Michael credits his experience with manufacturing and sales to his success. He leaves listeners and entrepreneurs with some sound advice.

Resources from this episode

Time to Get Tough! How Cookies, Coffee, and a Crash Led to Success in Business and Life

Michael Coles on LinkedIn

Great American Cookie Company

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If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Danny Ozment.

He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world.

Contact him today at https://emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory


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May 19 2020
Michael Coles, founder of Great American Cookie Company
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