Young entrepreneur finds success in gourmet cookies

Eric Lippert of Apex has always been interested in baking and business. As a college freshman, he worked for a gourmet cooking company called A Sweet Reminder located in Hillsborough. Once he understood how the business operated, the owners gave him more responsibilities. Lippert saw the business's potential and purchased it two years later.

Lippert became interested in business in high school. "Business just grabbed me from day one," he said. When applying for college, Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business caught Lippert's attention.

While running a business out of his apartment kitchen, Lippert, 21, is also a full-time student double majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing. In the 2009-10 academic year, he also worked on campus as business manager for The Appalachian student newspaper.

Clients of his mail order business include Merrill Lynch and Rising Suns Pools, along with 60 to 70 additional corporate accounts. A Sweet Reminder offers a variety of cookies: chocolate chip, maple walnut, orange cranberry, white chocolate chip macadamia, and other flavors that can be purchased through Lippert's website.

Lippert noted that while getting his business started in Boone, he received a lot of help from The Center for Entrepreneurship in the Walker College of Business and his professors. Dr. Tom Will, who teaches Introduction to Entrepreneurship, suggested Lippert pitch the idea for his business and write an executive summary. "He helped me follow through with my idea, and advised me the whole way," he said.

Lippert suggests that students interested in entrepreneurship join the Student Entrepreneurship Club and Mentoring Program. "Advisors and mentors volunteer their time to help you go from your idea, to implementation, to seeing you succeed. They're committed to helping you," he said.

One of his biggest hurdles in starting his business was getting his kitchen certified by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, which he described as "time consuming." Lippert also had to apply for a business permit and register his business with the Secretary of State to receive a federal ID tax number.

He is fully committed to great customer service, which he says sets him apart from his competitors. He also charges less for his gourmet cookies. "I set myself apart because I charge less for a lot more. I listen to what the customers say they would like to have, and I act on it," he said. Lippert stays in touch with his clients to make sure they are 100 percent satisfied.

Not only does Lippert make and bake his own cookies, he also invents new recipes. "I ask myself, what would I like? Whatever mood I'm in, that's where the cookie originates from. That's how I came up with the triple chocolate cookie."

In the future, Lippert hopes to move A Sweet Reminder out of his apartment and into a new location in Boone. From there, he would like to open up other locations around the United States.

On business and being an entrepreneur, Lippert says, "You're going to fail or you're going to succeed. There is no failure in businesses as long as you learn from them. After all, business is a learning process; you're going to end up figuring out everything along the way."