It’s the fifth installment of #OperationEntrepreNATION and this week, we spoke to Dan a.k.a. “Danny Donuts”, who left his job on Wall Street to start something of his own. He runs the popular mobile donut food truck, Glazed and Confused.
Dan had just become a married man and while exploring the Napa Valley region on his Honeymoon, he came across a fascinating machine at a farmers market. It would eventually become the machine that would spur his future donut business. “I was previously a Broker on Wall Street, it wasn’t very fulfilling, and I was kind of looking for something else to do. It was just the right timing kind of thing where I was starting a new chapter of my life with marriage and I thought, why not? So I did some research and I just decided to go for it”.
The decision wasn’t a blind one, as Dan and his family had been in the restaurant/food business before, “I’ve always been very entrepreneurial from a young age. Out of college, studying business, my father and I opened up Ice Cream shops in New York City. I went from being a student to managing a multi-million dollar ice cream company in New York City.”. He managed that for about five years until he landed into his financial position on Wall Street, but it only took 3 years for him to realize it wasn’t what he wanted to do, “I wanted to do something a little more back to my roots which is working for myself and doing something I really enjoy, which is the food industry” and so Glazed and Confused was born.
His donuts made their first appearance at small markets and fairs on the weekends. It was a side hustle as Dan was still working his full-time job during the week. However, it didn’t take long for him to realize he really had something going with Glazed and Confused and eventually made it his main priority. “Now it’s a full-time job for me and the fact that everyday is different and the fact that I get to make people happy with our donuts all day is just very fulfilling and I couldn’t be happier.” In their second year of business, they made the decision to invest in commercial vehicles.
Glazed and Confused hired Loud Mouth Wraps (a division of Jungle Communications Inc.) to create a vehicle wrap with an eye-catching design for their food truck and food trailer. “The whole food truck scene is taking off and it’s just a great rolling advertising/marketing tool that we have now. As soon as we got the mobile vehicles, our business more than doubled… we should have done it sooner than we did honestly. It’s been great” and the truck certainly attracts attention, “My phone will ring and it’ll be someone calling to say ‘Hey I just saw your truck on the road, I thought it was so cool! I just wanted to give you a call and say awesome name!’ or you know, the Led Zeppelin song “Dazed and Confused” will come on the radio and someone calls me saying, ‘You know, I just saw your truck and the song was on the radio. I just had to give you a call!’ So it’s just little things like that that put a smile on my face and makes me appreciate all the hard work that was put into it.
When asked if he came across any specific challenges or struggles starting out, Dan said one challenge was, and still is, managing people. “At first it was me, my business partner and our wives helping out and that quickly became too much for us to take on so we had to start hiring people. It’s very difficult sometimes to find people who are reliable and I don’t know what it is, I guess the workforce is just different these days, but it’s just hard to find reliable people you can trust.”
Dan offers the following advice for anyone who might want to start a business of their own, “The first thing you need to have to be an entrepreneur is the passion. Whatever you get into, it can’t be financially driven. It has to be about doing what you love. I feel like if you’re doing something that you really love, then you’re not working, it’s more of a passion. The second thing I would say, is that you’re going to make mistakes, you just have to learn from them. If I could turn back the clock, I would do things totally different but it’s part of the learning curve. Don’t get discouraged, keep your head up and keep going after it.”
Glazed and Confused offers a variety of fresh, made-to-order mini donuts with over ten mouth-watering flavors, and as a completely mobile company, they cater special events from Bat/Bar Mitzvahs to Weddings to Corporate functions and more. They also still make appearances at festivals and fairs!