New Business Owner and Biz-In-A-Box Grad Is Enjoying the Sweet Life
If you’ve been to the downtown area of Cookeville lately, you will have noticed a new shop in to town – right on
Broad Street, and we say huzzah- it’s about time they got themselves a proper candy and sweets shop!
Pops and Gumdrops owner Sarah Olson had been talking with her husband about Cookeville needing a shop
like this when they moved to Cookeville from the western suburbs of Chicago in 2014. “In Chicago, everything
is built around the train stations,” explains Olson. “We completely rely on the trains; every 11 minutes, a train
goes through. And all of the major stops have cute little stores offering candy and popcorn.” Olson recognized
the potential for this quaint, nostalgic type of shop in the Upper Cumberland, but kept waiting for someone else
to make it happen. “It was always, ‘Oh, they really need something like this in this town, somebody should do
this.’ It didn’t become ‘we should do this’ until a few years later,” she says.
After some basic research into her idea, Olson came across The Biz Foundry and signed up for the Business-In-A-
Box course. The nine-week course was slated to cover most of what a new business startup would need to know,
from defining the target audience to determining the need for trade marking. “I was already on track to start a
business because I had been putting my startup information together, but where the course really helped me
was in covering things I hadn’t thought about- how to structure my business in a legal sense, maximize my
startup costs, and use my revenue to keep building.” Since finishing the course in the spring of last year, Olson
has successfully opened her shop in a prime location, and is now facing the potential to expand the business
online due to high demand.
The Biz Foundry’s next Business-In-A-Box course begins March 22, 2018 at their new coworking space
on Cedar Avenue in Cookeville, and will take place every Thursday evening for nine weeks. Facilitated by
seasoned business and startup veterans, the course will give its students the ability to develop their business
model, hear expert advice from local legal, accounting, marketing and insurance experts, and learn to tell their
story to attract talent, vendors, customers, and possibly even investors. Classes are hands-on and full of group
discussions, start-up checklist activities, and weekly homework assignments designed to validate participants’
assumptions and refine their business ideas.
“I definitely think it’s helpful to go to that class prepared,” notes Olson, who encourages other new
entrepreneurs or business startup hopefuls to attend. “But if you aren’t prepared, it’s going to help you get
prepared. Those who didn’t walk in with a plan left the class with a blueprint.”
Business In A Box is only offered twice annually, and space is limited. For more information, or to sign up, please
visit www.thebizfoundry.org or contact program manager Mike Ames . And when you go to Pops and Gumdrops, try the buffalo popcorn – I bought some today. It’s amazing.
I’m eating it now as I write this article. And I will not be sharing it with any of you people, so go buy your own.