This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.
Founder: Caroline Ta ’21, Marketing major
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Ta: SweetsbyCaroline is a baking business that specializes in custom gluten free french macarons, as well as cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts that are perfect for engagements, weddings, parties, and other events. It’s estimated that over 32 million Americans have food allergies and 1% of the U.S. population has Celiac disease. As consumers today are opting to follow a healthy lifestyle and reaching for all natural and convenient options, we want to provide health conscious people with affordable, custom gluten free bite sized desserts, to satisfy their sweet craving. We have an assortment of unique flavors such as fruity pebbles and s’mores and a variety of packaging options that are great for any event.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Ta: Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved to bake. My love for baking came from baking birthday cakes with my mom when I was younger. Coming out of High School, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be in the business field. I went into Montgomery College as a Finance/Accounting major but after taking my first accounting class, I realized that Finance/accounting was not for me. I would always be so stressed from doing my accounting homework and I would turn to baking instead. I grew an obsession with baking macarons because I heard they were very difficult to make and I wanted to challenge myself.
A lot of my friends reached out to me and asked me to make macarons for their birthdays or holiday events and that was my a-ha moment. I knew that I really enjoyed baking but also sharing it with the people around me. I loved how my macarons/desserts could bring a little sweetness and happiness to someone’s day and that was when I decided to turn my passion into a business, and that is how SweetsbyCaroline was born!
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Ta: Since starting my business, I have participated in two pitch competitions. One of them being Raptor Tank at Montgomery College, where I came in first place, and this experience really fueled my passion and drive to keep pursuing my dream. And then this past semester I was a part of the Pitch Dingman Competition, which was such an amazing experience. Not only did I meet so many amazing people but I definitely grew a lot as a business woman. I became a lot more confident in myself and in my business. Since the competition, SweetsbyCaroline has expanded to shipping macarons, which has been a major milestone after endless shipping trials. You can now head over to our website and ship macarons to your family and friends!
DC: What drives you to keep going?
Ta: I started SweetsbyCaroline because I love to bake and share it with my friends and family. I loved how my desserts could bring a little sweetness and happiness to someone’s day. I want everyone to be able to enjoy a dessert every once in a while, because we all gotta treat ourselves sometimes!
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
Ta: I love it!! Not only do I get to meet amazing entrepreneurs but I also believe that when you surround yourself with like minded people, not only does it drive you academically, but also encourages you to work harder on yourself and your venture. I love that we can bounce ideas off of each other and share our experiences because I feel like we’ve all been in a similar situation and can help each other out of it/with it.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Ta: During Terp Startup, I am hoping to build a team and strengthen my business model. I feel that I am strong in baking and creating but I need to step back and work on the basics and foundations of building my business. Things like marketing strategies, customer retention… so that once the school year starts again I am ready to take on new opportunities and grow!