Six years ago my wife and I sold everything and bought a 90ft tunnel oven to make cookies. We're now shipping between 1 and 4 thousand pounds per week. AMA
I'm a business owner and entrepreneur and I haven't worked for someone else since I was 19. I'm doing this AMA so that I can answer any questions you may have about being in business or starting your own company. The cookie business wasn't my first, nor most successful but it is the one I'm proudest of. Some background:
My adventures started when I was 6 with my own Fire Department in Cleveland, I would pull my red wagon up and down the street with a step ladder, fire extinguisher and garden hose looking for fire (until I got discouraged & spent my time building forts). At 9 I ran a multi-route, paper route and hired other kids to deliver for me. By 19 I was eager to "begin life" and I dropped out of Bradley University in Peoria. Shortly after that I started my first "real business": it was a burglar alarm for apartments. I developed & manufactured the product and sold them by hiring an off-duty detective from the local police force to give “security presentations” in luxury apartment buildings. We would use the party room, he would present statistics, speak about crime and the responsibility of protecting property and I would give a product demonstration and collect orders. A friend would go the next day and install the alarms. This worked out well as I had low overhead & was making a good income.
Some amount of “beginners luck” helped me along the way, the first product that I ever developed with the intention of mass producing was chosen as one of the 100 most important products developed in the world the year that I developed it. This was in 1977, back in the “mechanical” age. Since then, I've developed impact recorders, mechanical accelerometers, temperature recorders to monitor the shipment of perishables, and a widely employed derailment detector to stop subway derailments before they become catastrophic.
Currently I run a business that employs 30-40 people and we produce everything "in-house" near Los Angeles. We are selling high quality dog treat & nutritional supplements in about 2,500-3,000 stores nationwide, a disposable poop scooper (we produce about 20 million annually) and the best chocolate chip cookies you'll ever eat which I started because I missed the 70's style cookies that made the original Famous Amos a Los Angeles sensation. My cookies are currently being sold in about 200 stores and we're shipping anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000 lbs per week.
Not directly business related but things you may find interesting. I was on “What’s my Line” and got to hang out with Soupy Sales for an hour, I inspired a front page article in the New York Times regarding corruption and I've coached entrepreneurs & spoken to groups when invited. I’ve been very fortunate in life & see my overall purpose as propagating happiness through my cookies & being of service to others, if I can contribute anything here feel free to ask.
I've been very impressed with Reddit and the community and this inspired me to do an "AMA". Hope you find it useful.
EDIT: Added some pictures: Tunnel oven and the bus we lived out of while trying to start this dream
EDIT3: Please be patient with me, I'm a slow typer
EDIT4: I've been asked for a coupon code (and about 42 boxes of free cookies) so you can use reddit for 30% off on our website. This allows us to cover our costs only, just for you guys! PS. I may have a job for someone who can help us build a better site. We're having some problems with this one.
EDIT5: Reddit is more amazing then I could have ever imagined!
EDIT7: Can't believe the support, thank you. If you'd want free cookies join our facebook page and we're going to do them for people's birthdays (fair warning, I'm not sure how yet).
EDIT8: I'm seeing a lot of comments regarding gluten free cookies and wanted to say that we HAVE tried this but with no success, we can't get them to come out crispy. With this much interest though we will be trying again.
ALMOST FINAL EDIT: Thank you everybody, Your responses have been wonderful & your comments were appreciated & questions intelligent & important. For everyone who's ordered, we're baking your cookies on Thursday & shipping on Friday & Monday. They're being sent by USPS & this will takes about a week. Many more interactions to follow -thank you all for your great support, Bart & Judy Greenhut & the bakery team.
STILL CLOSER TO FINAL EDIT: We baked about 2,000lbs of cookies for Redditors & shipped our first batch yesterday, more will be sent out on Monday. We heard back from the butter creamery in Normandy so in about 6 or 8 weeks we're going to try a run using what we think is the best butter we've ever tasted. -you guys can let us know what you think. Look for something very cool in a few days... besides cookies! -we're going to change the world, together SOON!
FINAL EDIT: what a great experience! I hope everyone is enjoying their cookies and having a wonderful moment.