The economy may be cold, but more than the ovens are hot at a business founded by a recent graduate from the University of Houston-Victoria School of Business Administration.
Sales at Bliss Bakery in Virginia Beach, Va., are up 40 percent over its first year, said owner and founder John Coffren. One of the secrets to his success was earning his UHV Master of Business Administration in 2008 through online classes.
“It really was helpful in getting the business started and knowing the right things to do and how to position it,” he said.
Coffren and his wife were working in management for a large pizza franchise in 2008 when they learned the company would be bought and they would soon be out of work.
They decided that the time was right to step out and start their own business, in part since Coffren was nearing graduation.
“My family had talked about opening a bakery for quite some time,” he said. Coffren, his wife and three of his four grown children all work at the store.
When the business started, Coffren used what he had learned at UHV about Internet marketing to get the word out. He used barter for services to help keep costs down and get news out about his company through networking. He also applied many other principles he had learned.
“I knew we were competing against competitors large and small,” he said. “Thanks to what I learned at UHV, we have found a niche where the megastores cannot go easily.”
Coffren praised his overall experience at UHV.
“I was impressed with just about every professor I had,” he said. The online offerings gave him a quality education with the flexibility he needed to further his education as a working adult.
“I was able to use the entrepreneurship classes and marketing classes virtually in real time to further my business plan development,” Coffren noted.
He also praised the benefits of the program being available entirely online.
“I don’t think I could have received a better education if I’d been in a brick-and-mortar classroom,” he said. “In fact, the online education at UHV excelled over any experience I had in a traditional classroom.”
Business still is booming. Orders have come in from far and wide for local delivery. A grandmother in California ordered a birthday cake to be delivered to a bowling alley. And a customer in England ordered baked goods for a relative attending a local funeral.
“We’re international,” Coffren said with pride.
As Coffren praised the UHV School of Business, the school’s leader had words of praise for Coffren.
“We are proud to have Mr. Coffren as one of our graduates,” Dean Farhang Niroomand said. “Small businesses like his are the backbone of the American economy. His experience in our program and his subsequent success both testify to the value of UHV’s online courses for people who aspire to be entrepreneurs.”