Austin Entrepreneur Video Series
Profiles of Innovation

One sweet ending: How Tiff's Treats evolved from an unlikely place

One sweet ending: How Tiff's Treats evolved from an unlikely place

When stood up for a date, Leon Chen couldn't have expected the sour evening would be the impetus for a booming, state-wide business.

But when he saw the apologetic gesture of freshly baked cookies delivered to his doorstep by Tiffany — a friend, aspiring baker and aforementioned romantic interest — Leon let go of any ill will and found opportunity.

Within thirty minutes of receiving the "I'm sorry" treats, he pitched Tiffany on delivering her homemade cookies around town —  just like pizza.

As sophomores at the University of Texas in 1999, the two co-founded the fresh-from-the-oven delivery business, Tiff's Treats. Leon would be CEO while Tiffany assumed the role of President — and they would both finish their undergraduate degrees.
 
The duo set off on their adventure from Leon's shared student apartment, peddling boxes upon boxes of cookies across the campus area. Quickly, Tiff's Treats outgrew its at-home model, which sent the couple (yes, the guy does get the girl in this story!) up and down The Drag, seeking any existing business with a spare oven Tiff's Treats could use.
 
They hit the unlikely jackpot with a baked potato restaurant that rented Leon and Tiffany extra space in the rear of the eatery. 
 
"Only in Austin would something like that be okay," laughs Leon. "In any other city, people would not go into a restaurant and order cookies not from that restaurant, but from kids in the back."
 
In lieu of seeking "real jobs" when they graduated in 2001, Leon and Tiffany gambled on Tiff's Treats and moved into a fully equipped house in order to meet the demands of the business’ ravenous (and growing) customer base.

"That first year, we worked one hundred hours each, and at the end of the year we lost $15,000. . .We risked a lot — including our own relationship — for this business," says Leon.

Despite the hard work that the business required, their strong partnership sweetened the deal. "Leon has a really entrepreneurial spirit," Tiffany says. "I put together the vision and work on big picture things, and she executes it — she's very good at executing operations," Leon readily adds.

Today, Tiff's Treats has expanded within three cities (Austin, Dallas, Houston), a level of success that affords Tiff's Treats the unique position of making others' dreams come true.

When a new Tiff's Treats store opens, Tiff's Treats selects a girl or boy from the Make a Wish Foundation to sponsor. The store then sells cookies for $3 a dozen, directing 100 percent of the sales towards the child's Wish until the goal is fulfilled.

So what kind of enterprising spirit is required to create and maintain such a generous dessert dynasty?  

"To me an entrepreneur is someone that, despite any and all setbacks, continues to try to move forward and create something," Leon explains. 
 
"It's not all about the money, it's beyond that. They want to create something and leave some sort of a legacy, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to do that."
 
The first time a person receives an unexpected box of warm cookies from a loved one is certainly a memory that will live on.
 
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Tiffs Treats_june 2012_1
Photo by Elevated Evolution
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Leon and Tiffany of Tiff's Treats Photo by Elevated Evolution
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Photo by Elevated Evolution
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Courtesy of Tiff's Treats
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Tiffs Treats_june 2012_1
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Tiffs Treats_june 2012_2
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Tiffs Treats_june 2012_3
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Tiffs Treats_june 2012_4