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Just Go Grind

Jan 2, 2023

Candace Nelson is a serial entrepreneur, NYT and WSJ bestselling author, WSJ contributor, angel investor, TV personality, executive producer, and mom. She started her career working in investment banking and the internet start-up scene before completely shifting gears to follow her passion and attend pastry school. In 2005, she opened the doors to Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery. Despite early naysayers, their 600-square-foot bakery in Beverly Hills disrupted the legacy bakery industry and ignited a worldwide cupcake phenomenon! In 2012 Sprinkles introduced its Cupcake ATM, a cutting-edge contactless cupcake delivery system. Later that year they sold Sprinkles to PE firm KarpReilly. Today, Sprinkles has sold over 200 million cupcakes, has over 20 stores, 30 Cupcake ATMs, and 1000 employees.

In 2017, Candace co-founded Pizzana, a fast-growing chain of award-winning Neo-Neapolitan pizzerias, leading the “third wave” of pizza in the US. Pizzana cemented Los Angeles as a pizza destination and revolutionized pizza takeout with its innovative heat and slice at-home method. Pizzana also ships its frozen pizza nationwide. In 2021 she co-created and executive produced Best in Dough, a Hulu show starring Pizzana Executive Chef Daniele Uditi, which began streaming in the Fall of 2022.

Today, through her company, CN2 Ventures, a family office, and venture studio, she has backed a diverse portfolio of startups in the specialty food, retail, health, wellness, and early childhood spaces with a focus on female and underrepresented founders.

Candace is also the executive producer and star in Netflix’s Sugar Rush and Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Her book, Sweet Success: A Simple Recipe For Turning Your Passion Into Profit was published by HarperCollins Leadership in November 2022.

Website: Sprinkles
Twitter: @candacenelson
Instagram: @candacenelson/
TikTok: @candacenelson
Her new book, Sweet Success: A Simple Recipe For Turning Your Passion Into Profit
Her NYT bestselling cookbook, The Sprinkles Baking Book

Topics Covered by Candace Nelson in this Episode

  • Candace’s unconventional path to starting Sprinkles and elevating the cupcake
  • Her decision to choose a new career path despite other people’s expectations
  • Identifying the market opportunity for cupcakes
  • Getting Sprinkles off the ground and early organic growth
  • Early product development
  • Bootstrapping and the challenge of finding a retail location
  • Launching their first location with no retail experience and how scarcity drove demand
  • How they leveraged celebrity marketing
  • How they approached growth and expansion, and establishing themselves as market leaders
  • Franchising vs owning distribution
  • Avoiding founder’s syndrome and deciding to sell Sprinkles
  • How Candace went on to co-found Pizzana
  • Investing through CN2 Ventures and as an angel
  • How Candace views brand building
  • Brand strategy during expansion
  • Candace’s most recent book, Sweet Success: A Simple Recipe For Turning Your Passion Into Profit

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