INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER SABRINA SETTINGER OF COOKONA
What is COOKONA?
“COOKONA is the first cookie dough shop in Barcelona, offering more than 50 cookie flavors including vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free options. Like cookie pizzas, crêpes with cookie dough inside and more. Every day the company is expanding, just as the demand for cookies is also growing.”
Do you consider COOKONA as a startup? Why a startup and not a traditional company?
It is a startup because it has not even been on the market for a year and with less than a year you cannot get your ratings and numbers from anywhere. Every month is completely different. If you compare the current month with last month of COOKONA both have very different valuations. Another thing is that I am also always creating a new recipe in the business. -Always sweet of course-.
How was COOKONA born? Where does the Idea come from?
I was living in Mallorca for four years working, and then I went on a world trip for a year and a half. On this trip I already knew that my next step was going to be my own company. But of course, I still didn't know exactly what it was going to be about. I studied hospitality and I didn't know what I was going to do next. But I was sure that I wanted to undertake. On this trip that I made, my last stop was New York City. It was here that I first tried Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches (cookies with ice cream inside), and at that moment I thought how good they were. I was impressed, because I didn't like cookies, I knew those typical ones from the supermarket and I didn't like them, and I never ate the handmade ones. Therefore, by trying this cookie, enter a new world. I am very addicted to ice cream and with the cookies it seemed like the perfect combination. That same night I had a dream of having my Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches business in Barcelona. The dream was so real that the next day it was already clear that this was what he wanted to do. I only knew Barcelona as a tourist and I came to this city very naive. I thought of a plan and I started working in a pastry shop for three months to be able to begin to know my target, and I had the idea that by working in this pastry shop I was going to obtain the appropriate information to later be able to set up my business. Those first three months everything was very good in the pastry shop, it helped me a lot to get to know how things work here, to meet people, etc. After I stopped working there, I started practicing on my own recipes for COOKONA for half a year. Testing about thirty cookies every day. More and more and more. I have been improving the recipes and now I have fifty very good recipes. At that time I also thought of the idea of not only selling Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, but also Cookie Dough. This was two years ago, where I also already had the COOKONA logo, branding and social media prepared. Everything was already prepared to start the business. Then the search for the premises began, which was not very easy. A friend of mine came to visit me in Barcelona and told me: “Sabrina, you have to start NOW”. I didn't know how because I couldn't find a place. Searching on the internet, I saw that in Barcelona you can rent kitchens, they were like coworking spaces for chefs, so I did it. I baked my first two hundred cookies, I took a bicycle with a large box with the cookies inside and I went to the Ciudadela park to sell them. This was on a Saturday in October 2016, and in one hour I sold two hundred cookies. It was there where it all started. I then began to go through all the coworking spaces to offer my cookies. The idea was to bake them over the weekend and then deliver them on Monday so they would last all week. In the end I was already selling my cookies in 20 places in Barcelona (coworking, bakeries and cafeterias), and every Monday I distributed them with my bicycle. I was like this for 8-9 months. Until I finally found this place. I was lucky that my mother came from Germany to help me during the works and also two friends of mine started to help me. We were like this all summer, setting up the business by ourselves, until September 2017 when COOKONA opened. The first day was crazy, it was the day I had the most people in the first two months after opening. It was too big an impact. The first month a boy was helping me, but he was on Erasmus, so he had to leave. So now I have the help of two girls who make it easy for me to run the business. We are currently a team of three people in COOKONA, and looking for possibly one more person.
What motivated you to start? Is it something forever?
There is one thing I want to say, I am not a cook, I am more of an entrepreneur. I saw something that nobody has here in Barcelona, which are Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches and Cookie Dough. The latter, even in Europe, hardly anyone sells it, there is only one site in Berlin, another in Madrid and no more. I am a person that if I decide to start something, it is because it has to work. For me there is no no. I had this illusion of this business because I knew it was something good. I believe that undertaking is a feeling that nobody can give you. It was something I always wanted since I was little. There is something that I think is really personal, which is that there are people who cannot learn to be an entrepreneur, it is simply something that one carries in one's blood.
What impact is COOKONA expected to generate in the city of Barcelona? With COOKONA I hope to transmit good energy. As long as this is what I transmit, fine. Being a foreigner, I consider myself a girl from the world, a girl from the land. I don't care who enters the business as long as they are a person with good energy.
What would the concept of Startup be for you? How would you define it? A startup, I think it's a new concept, where you have a good idea, you want to make it happen, but you can't really know if it's going to work.
What is COOKONA's long-term vision?
I am turning thirty this year and one day I hope to start a family, so I don't know if I am going to return to Germany in a few years, or if I am going to set up another COOKONA in Barcelona, as it could also be in Rome, for example. . I still do not think so, since to make a decision I must calculate everything very well. I always think that if you really know what you want, you always have something in your hands.
Undertaking alone or accompanied?
Do you think that the financing of the project marks the beginning of this?
What do you think of coworking?
The idea in general is good, but I don't like the long-term concept. Because you really go to a coworking because you don't want to work alone or at home. So if you go to a coworking you will meet new people, but after a month you already know these people. So in my opinion, the idea of spending a month in a coworking would be ideal, then another and moving on. I even have the idea of doing a get together coworking here at COOKONA. Where people from all coworking spaces can come here and come together and get to know each other. Like a community.
Regarding the business plan, which one did you use?
How would you define the entrepreneur?
Finally, do you have any advice given by a mentor that will help you always maintain success in your work?