Courtnee Futch, 18 Year Old Founder and CEO ThunderCakes, LLC

Courtnee Futch, 18 Year Old Founder and CEO   ThunderCakes, LLC

“I spent so much time denying my love for baking that I had truly convinced myself I wanted to do something else….”

Sometimes the greatest success stories are born out of a moment of desperation.

This is all too true for Courtnee Futch, 18-year-old founder and CEO of Thunder Cakes. Courtnee was approaching the conclusion of her freshman year at Syracuse University with $6.14 left in her bank account knowing fairly well that no amount of budgeting was going to make that money last.

It was in that exact moment, that ThunderCakes was created. In under an hour, Courtnee had created a Facebook Group named ThunderCakes by Courtnee and added 300 university peers to it, immediately creating confusion. 30 minutes later, she posted photos of her first thunderous creation “Bacon Chocolate and Caramel Rice Krispie Treats”. An hour later, all 40 of the treats she made were sold out, and Courtnee knew she had something special.
      Now, Thunder Cakes is a remote location bakery that serves custom order cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes and cookies. If you are looking for standard pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough then go to Tollhouse, because you will not find that at Thunder Cakes. Courtnee’s menu is mouth watering offering a number of baked goods from Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting to Bacon Cheesecake Brownies to White Chocolate Cheesecake Cake. Everything about Thunder Cakes is a visual experience. She places a lot of importance on the aesthetics of her work. Each product is custom designed to reflect the distinct personality of her customer. Courtnee does not just offer her customers a menu; she offers them an interactive experience.
      Baking has always been Courtnee’s passion. In high school, she was the captain of her culinary arts team and started her own business senior year called The Fudgery. In college, Courtnee decided to step away from baking and entered into The College of Arts and Sciences on a pre-med track. It was not until the end of her freshman year that she rediscovered her love of baking again. “I spent so much time denying my love for baking that I had truly convinced myself I wanted to do something else. But in that moment of desperation, my passion for baking resurfaced. Nothing had ever been more clear to me than in that moment.” She is changing her major to Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises with a major in Information Technology, Design, and Startup.
What’s Next?:         
On March 26, 2013, Thunder Cakes celebrated its one-year anniversary. Courtnee has a lot of plans for the future of her company. First, she wants to take time and give back to her customers who have made her dream a reality. She plans on executing a number of different campaigns that will immerse the Syracuse University campus into Thunder Cakes. Second, she plans on growing her operation. Currently, Courtnee is a one-woman operation. She is the manager, baker, accountant, carrier, etc. She is establishing an apprenticeship where she can bring in others to teach and assist so that she can grow the business instead of “being the business”. Thirdly, she wants to start outsourcing her products. She is looking to partner with local restaurants, campus, and administration to support and grow Thunder Cakes. And lastly, ThunderCakes will begin it’s shipping operation in coming months to make her cakes available nationwide.
      In April of 2013, ThunderCakes won $5,000 in funding. Student startups at Syracuse University won a combined $218,000 in seed funding at the third annual Emerging Talk conference on April 12 and 13 in the Whitman School of Management. More than 300 students, faculty, entrepreneurs, investors and community members came out to watch students pitch in several competitions, display their businesses and ideas at Demo Alley and win seed funding to take their ventures to the next level.
      The Raymond von Dran (RvD) IDEA Awards competition is part of the Raymond von Dran Innovation and Disruptive Entrepreneurship Accelerator (IDEA) and has provided seed funding to help student entrepreneurs launch their ventures since 2009. Funding is awarded to student companies to cover start-up expenses, including salaries of company owners and employees, space rental and marketing, legal, website and proof-of-concept development.
      Winning teams from SU were required to meet with Entrepreneur-in-Residence John Liddy to outline the deliverables, company calendar and business plan, after which they received the first half of their funds. They earn the remaining half of the Ray von Dran IDEA Award in six to 12 weeks, based on their work in implementing the plans discussed with Liddy. ■

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