When Jeff Herman went on a trip to Mary Lee Donuts, he realized there was a crucial gap in the doughnut market in Baton Rouge, and he asked himself how hard could it be to build a better doughnut shop? (famous last words) He was 23 years old and fresh out of college, armed with only his ambition, drive, and small amount of capital, he managed to bootstrap his startup Tiger Deaux-nuts into a thriving, yet almost secret, grassroots business.
In this episode I talk with Jeff in his first kitchen about the challenges of bootstrapping, building a devoted following, and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Be sure to get a pen and a pad, his story is jam-packed with ideas and tips to grow your business.
Interview with Jeff Herman
Sponsored by: Hanley’s Foods — Louisiana-inspired, natural, fresh foods. Enter “docast” at checkout for $4 off.
- “If I have to hold the jackhammer to drill into the concrete to put in the grease trap, I’m gonna be there.” (Tweet this)
- Working on a business, not in a business. (7:05)
- “When I set out to start Tiger Deaux-nuts, my dream wasn’t to wake up at 3 o’clock every morning to make donuts, my dream was to build businesses.”
- Tiger Deaux-nuts, the beginning, you heard it first here! (8:35)
- “If you ever want to [start a business], don’t think how hard can it be, just think it’s going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your life.”
- Market research and the 2 Founding Fathers of gourmet doughnuts. (16:25)
- “You’re not reinventing anything, you’re not creating a new product, you’re taking something that’s outdated and putting some effort, and thought, and creativity into it. Consumers want lagniappe, they want something extra, and they’re willing to pay for it too.”
- The financial obstacles Jeff faced in starting Tiger Deaux-nuts. (18:30) & (20:35)
- Doughnuts a la Subway. (19:45)
- “It took me 5 months, and $11,000 dollars before I could make my first doughnut. This is the definition of insanity, btw.” (Tweet this)
- Jeff’s inspiration for how to operate his business in the beginning. (25:20)
- How Jeff marketed his startup, and built a cult-like following. (26:10)
- “One of the huge advantages of what I do is that pictures say a million words.” (Tweet this)
- How Jeff learned to make his infamous king-cake doughnuts. (35:15)
- A financial breakthrough. (37:15)
- Finding a new location. (40:50)
- Gateway business. (55:00)
- First doughnut shop in the country that will make it’s own boudin! (57:00)
- How does Jeff continue to create great ideas while staying busy? (57:35)
- The flavors of Tiger Deaux-nuts. (58:40)
- The spectrum of gourmet doughnuts. (60:05)
- The biggest challenge Jeff has faced, and see’s going forward. (63:10)
- “The biggest challenge I faced was my own inexperience and overconfidence.” (Tweet this)
- “A challenge every entrepreneur faces is, how do you take the business from being you, to the business being a business?” (Tweet this)
- What’s a book, a song, and a quote that you love? (73:15)
Play the interview
The DOcast is a podcast of interviews from amazing entrepreneurs who are doing the unthinkable. With topics on how they got started, where they’re going, and how you can learn from them.
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