When stood up for a date, Leon Chen couldn't have expected the sour evening would be the impetus for a booming, statewide business. But when he saw the apologetic gesture of freshly baked cookies delivered to his doorstep by Tiffany — a friend, aspiring baker and aforementioned romantic interest — Leon let go of any ill will and found opportunity.
Within 30 minutes of receiving the "I'm sorry" treats, he pitched Tiffany on delivering her homemade cookies around town — just like pizza.
As sophomores at the University of Texas in 1999, the two co-founded the fresh-from-the-oven delivery business, Tiff's Treats. Leon would be CEO while Tiffany assumed the role of President — and they would both finish their undergraduate degrees.
"To me an entrepreneur is someone that, despite any and all setbacks, continues to try to move forward and create something," Leon explains. "It's not all about the money, it's beyond that."
"That first year, we worked one hundred hours each, and at the end of the year we lost $15,000. . .We risked a lot — including our own relationship — for this business," says Leon.
Despite the hard work that the business required, their strong partnership sweetened the deal. "Leon has a really entrepreneurial spirit," Tiffany says. "I put together the vision and work on big picture things, and she executes it — she's very good at executing operations," Leon readily adds.
Today, Tiff's Treats has expanded within three cities (Austin, Dallas and Houston, where a store recently opened at 3800 Southwest Freeway), a level of success that affords Tiff's Treats the unique position of making others' dreams come true.
When a new Tiff's Treats store opens, Tiff's Treats selects a girl or boy from the Make a Wish Foundation to sponsor. The store then sells cookies for $3 a dozen, directing 100 percent of the sales towards the child's Wish until the goal is fulfilled.
So what kind of enterprising spirit is required to create and maintain such a generous dessert dynasty?
"To me an entrepreneur is someone that, despite any and all setbacks, continues to try to move forward and create something," Leon explains. "It's not all about the money, it's beyond that. They want to create something and leave some sort of a legacy, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to do that."