By Dave Schwab
A UCSD student was in a chemistry Ph.D. program when he found the key ingredient to his future financial success: his mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.
The student, who identifies himself now only as “the secret cookie guy,” wanted to leave the PhD program and was working on some web development ideas and needed a job when he returned home for a visit and to his mom’s “insanely- good cookies.”
When he returned to UCSD, he baked about 500 chocolate chip cookies and packaged them in individual zip-lock bags with a slip of paper stapled to them reading, “This is the Secret Cookie Service, a new late-night cookie delivery service on campus. If you like these cookies, just call this number anytime between 7 p.m.-2 a.m. 7 days a week and tell us how many cookies you want, the drop point (delivery address), and your contact number.”
The cookie guy said that first Saturday after passing out cookie leaflets he was in a movie not expecting anyone to ever order so soon and out of nowhere, at 11:30 at night in the middle of the movie, his phone went off.
“It was like “holy cow, someone just actually ordered,” he recounted noting he ran home, changed into a black suit and glasses with a briefcase (like superman), and drove to campus across the street to make the delivery.
“They wanted to take a picture and I just went with it,” he said noting his clients then posted that photo on Facebook adding, “over the next two weeks things just grew from nothing to something.”
Armed with an awesome recipe, a drive to thrive and the aid, he said, “of the viral power of Facebook,” the cookie guy’s delivery service not only took off but achieved escape velocity.
“Every time someone posted a picture or 'Liked Us' on Facebook, their friends then were wondering what it was and would try it out,” he said. “I couldn’t believe we ever reached 100 likes in Facebook and then we hit 500 in a week.”
The fledgling delivery service started giving incentives — 2 extra free cookies with a single one-time order — to students for “Liking us.”
“The 1000th person to Like us, a group of 10 guys, we gave away 100 cookies to,” he said. “They flipped out when we gave them these huge heavy bags of cookies.”
There’s gold in chocolate, the cookie guy has found. But more than that, he said it’s just plain fun being able to play with the marketing concept he’s created.
“Everybody loves James Bond and Mission Impossible and people just really like the secret agent thing,” he said adding, since October 2011, the Secret Cookie Service has gone from 0 to more than 1,800 Likes on Facebook.
“We continue to grow on UCSD’s campus, but we’re trying to reach out to the rest of La Jolla’s region,” he said adding, “I am obsessed with quality control … I want the delivery service to always be the timely, courteous, enjoyable quality fun that it is and not trade these characteristics away in exchange for too rapid of growth.”
The cookie guy said anyone can call (727) 487-2782 during delivery hours with a credit card to send cookies to a friend or someone special in La Jolla.
Also, don’t forget to “Like” the Secret Cookie Service on Facebook. You could be the next one to win a bag of cookies for hitting the company’s next Facebook “Like” milestone.