Entrepreneurial Success in NYC
Macarons and Cookies by Woops! bakes up revenue with carts, kiosks and upscale shops.
Macarons and Cookies by Woops!—a fun, edgy and whimsical company based in New York City—is putting an American spin on the delectable French macaron. What exactly is a macaron? The company defines theirs as having “a cookie-to-filling ratio of 1:1, and a layer of light and smooth filling of ganache, jam, caramel or buttercream against the cookies. The cookie surface should be smooth and glossy. The shell should be perfectly
“The French macaron is the next ‘cupcake,’” says Raj Bhatt, one of the company’s founders. Based on the early and rapid success of his company, he may be right. Back in 2012, Bhatt and his partners—a group of six entrepreneurs that met while working in the coffee/espresso bar industry—decided to get a booth and sell macarons at the popular Bryant Park Holiday Shops in mid-town Manhattan. Their booth quickly became popular to the point that just three holiday seasons later, that booth alone made $300,000 in the nine weeks that it was open.
Thinking they were on to something, the partners formed a company and started opening year-round kiosks in various locations in New York City. The kiosks have been very successful as well, so they decided their next step would be to branch out. The company designed and built carts to be located in malls in the surrounding areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The success of the carts was encouraging as the company was seeing carts breakeven—meaning that the costs put into starting up the cart had been recovered—within a few months.
As a concept still close to their hearts, the partners decided to open a brick-and-mortar bakeshop in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In the small, 400-square-foot shop they serve great coffee as well as their famous French macarons and other baked goods that are made on site to the highest standards. Due to the success of the first bakeshop, they have opened another one in New York and have one more in development.
The next logical step for the company is to franchise their success, says Bhatt. While their franchise operation is still in development, they have shared their plans with Specialty Retail Report. Bhatt says they are scheduled to launch franchise operations in Spring 2015.
Currently, all of their locations are either totally corporate owned or are 50/50 partnerships. The plan, according to Bhatt—who’s owned numerous franchises himself—is to offer two kinds of franchises: one for carts and one for the bakeshops. The cart franchises have a lower investment entry point and each franchisee will get a predesigned and fully completed cart on wheels. Having a mobile display, says Bhatt, will enable operators to relocate and be available for special events, indoor or outdoor locations, and holiday promotions. They will receive the macarons fully prepared and frozen so no baking or preparation is done in the cart and no culinary training or experience is needed to operate a franchise. Bhatt, who is developing and heading up the franchising division of the company, says he is looking for entrepreneurs with great customer service skills and an ability to represent a luxury product. The company is initially looking for owner-operators that would like to be located within malls. Bhatt notes that the cart businesses have experienced a high return on investment and typically reach breakeven in two to three months. Bhatt envisions that cart franchises will start out in the Northeast but will expand to areas such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
The initial investment for a cart franchise is about $65,000, which includes a fully designed and stocked cart, including inventory. The franchise fee is $12,500 with a one-week training program cost of $5,000. The royalty fee will be 4 percent of gross revenues paid monthly with no additional advertising or marketing fees.
Alternatively, the inline bakeshop franchises are best suited for entrepreneurs with retail and/or a restaurant background. Each location will be small, around 400 square feet, and serve high-quality coffee as well as bake all of their food items fresh, on site. Bhatt says that because of the complexity of the bakeshop franchises, their expansion is likely to be much slower with the company being much more selective on awarding franchises. Likewise, the investment will be substantially more with an estimated initial up-and-running cost of $150,000 to $200,000, which includes the cost of the build-out. Training will be much more extensive as well, lasting up to six months, depending on the franchisees’ experience. The franchise fee for a bakeshop will be about $20,000 with a $10,000 training fee. Royalties will also be 4 percent of gross revenue, paid monthly.
Bhatt says that the company prides itself in being innovative and that they are “not just about macarons, but about bringing the best confections the world has to offer to everyone.” He believes macarons are just the beginning as they continue to explore and develop new products. He did not give any hints as to what’s coming next but says there’s always something new cooking in their kitchen.
For more information, visit bywoops.co.