In this series, you’ll meet local entrepreneurs and learn about how they built their ideas into a business. I consider myself a very curious person and I’m always intrigued when I meet people who are are following their passions and I hope that you will be too.
Ever lick the bowl of your cookie dough and then feel really guilty and pray that you don’t get salmonella from the raw eggs? Yeah, same. Thankfully, edible cookie dough made with chickpeas and zero dairy is a real thing and the solution to all of your cookie dough cravings. I first had P.S. Snack’s cookie dough when they visited my office at WeddingWire for a free tasting and I was instantly hooked.
Nikki Azzara, the ambitious founder, is a rare breed and possesses a get-shit-done attitude, business acumen, and passion. Her innate business sense has helped her to cultivate not only a burgeoning business but an authentic brand in the ever-growing edible cookie dough space.
While I am four years Nikki’s senior, I spent our entire conversation captivated by her drive (she recently moved to NYC to expand the business), and her fierce focus on growing her company to a national level is impressive. Living in NYC will enable her to be the one pitching the product to larger accounts, while her brand ambassadors will handle the maintenance of her accounts here in DC. From her earliest memories, she was always an entrepreneur. She recalls asking her parents for chores to do around the house and holding car washes so that she could make money; she always favored “doing” instead of watching. Because of this, she agrees that you are born an entrepreneur and there is no way to effectively teach discipline, dedication, and passion for building a business through a textbook. Now let’s hop to the actual creation of this magical cookie dough. Nikki developed a chickpea based chocolate chip cookie recipe while at Wake Forest University and her friends and family loved it. One night at the beach the dough didn’t even make it into the oven because eating it raw was that good. After graduating college and doing some traveling she decided to start her company and sell her edible cookie dough as a consumer packaged good.
In November of 2014 Nikki raised $10,000 of funding on a platform called Tilt to cover her startup expenses, and from there she joined Union Kitchen to rent kitchen space and glean knowledge on the business side of selling a consumer packaged good.
Tastings at office buildings, farmers markets, and local stores helped to get her product in people’s hands and ultimately she gained traction and was able to land shelf space at local Whole Foods locations, juice bars, and specialty markets in DC.
Lucky for Nikki, she’s her target customer so she applies what she knows and likes to the marketing. Also, remaining scrappy and having a small budget to spend on marketing keeps things exciting and forces her to be creative.
She’s since outgrown Union Kitchen, is moving to a contract manufacturer in Brooklyn, and has raised money from family, friends, and her network to continue to scale the business. Plus, now that her product has had three years of selling under it’s belt and passed through proof of concept with flying colors, she has a sales story to pitch to potential stores and investors down the road. As she says, “You can always raise more money but if the product is not selling then there is a problem.”
Her advice to future entrepreneurs? You’ve got to be 100% in it or you’ll lose money and time, and use your naïveté to your advantage because people are much more willing to help. Lastly, find mentors, both elder and peer, to surround yourself with. Likeminded people who have an inclination to create something on their own are the ultimate source of motivation and inspiration.
Hungry for something sweet yet? Grab the cookie dough here.
What is your favorite DC monument? The Jefferson Memorial.
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Sweet or salty? Sweet.
Beach or mountains? Beach.
P.S. The name P.S. Snacks stands for “problem solved” and serves as a segue of sorts to list out all the things that make the dough a fabulous treat. “By the way this product is good for you,” or “By the way it is vegan, gluten and dairy-free” are all levers she pulls when pitching to investors and new accounts.