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Austin From Scratch: An Interview with Wes Hurt, Founder of Hey Cupcake!

Wes Hurt

Austin From Scratch is our newest series on the blog and includes interviews with local entrepreneurs who have created a thriving business here in the heart of Texas.  For this session of Austin From Scratch, we sat down with Wes Hurt, Founder of Hey Cupcake! to talk about catfish, freedom and the Vanilla Dream.  This interview comes on the heels of  a recent AdVenture where Owen and Malia learned how Hey Cupcake! makes their world-famous treats.

Owen (our six-year-old son)
What were your favorite things to do as a kid?

Wes (Wes Hurt, Founder of Hey Cupcake!)
I loved sports.  I loved playing yard football.  I loved going fishing with my grandpa and we would go catch these big catfish early, early in the morning and we’d take them to my grandma and they would do a big fish fry.  That was one of my fondest memories as a kid.  Also, I was always trying business ideas too.  I really loved that — like a lemonade stand for example.  I was always coming up with ideas of things to do.   I was always wired that way — to come up with ideas.

Owen
How did you go about learning as a child?

Wes
I’m very much a visual learner and I like to experience things.  Instead of just brainstorming about selling lemonade, I wanted to actually do it.  I wanted to try it.  Because I feel when you do that, you actually understand the reality of how it really, really works versus what someone else tells you.

Owen
When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Wes
I never remember not wanting to be an entrepreneur.  When I was really young though, I didn’t know what entrepreneur meant.  I just knew it was hard to say.  (everyone chuckles)  I just knew that I liked ideas.  I didn’t want to be a doctor or an astronaut.  It would have been cool to be an NBA basketball player but I wasn’t tall enough and I couldn’t jump.

Owen
What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Wes
There’s a couple different favorite things but I love the freedom that you have.  The freedom to create and the freedom to come up with a new idea.  For example, let’s say I want to try a new flavor like a BBQ-flavored cupcake. Well, that didn’t really work out (everyone chuckles again) but we had the freedom to try it.  You’re not limited to what you want to do and how you can create.  So that would be my favorite thing about being a business owner.

Owen
What is the most challenging thing about being a business owner?

Wes
I think it’s different for everyone but mine, in particular, is learning to trust people who you work with because you can’t do everything.  You only have two hands…you don’t have nine or ten like an octopus.  (more chuckles)  You kind of become a team where together we’re the octopus with all the hands.  But you have to trust everyone.  For me, it’s difficult to trust people with my baby or my idea.

Owen
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the cupcake business?

Wes
(Wes repeats question slowly followed by a pause…)  Only God knows!!!  (many, many laughs)  Because I never thought I would have been in the cupcake business.  If you would have asked me that a while back, I wouldn’t have said cupcakes.  I would have said something like I wanted to sell computers or rockets or something really cool…or really different.  So I guess the answer is only God knows.

Owen
What’s your favorite cupcake?

Wes
My favorite cupcake is the Vanilla Dream because I like the basic vanilla but my heart is also closest to it because the Vanilla Dream kind of….well, this is my dream come true and it just happens to be the vanilla flavor.

Owen
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Wes
Well, just keep doing what you’re doing and ask questions.  And keep asking questions.  One thing I always encourage and I do on a daily basis is ask why.  Why, why, why.

At this time, it was turn for Malia to ask a question.

Malia
Why did you make up this idea?

Wes
My idea before this one had just failed.  It’s didn’t work.  And so I was trying to think of new ideas. And I was up in New York visiting a friend and I was in line at a cupcake place and there was like 50 people in line.  And I was like, “people must really like cupcakes.  And nobody is doing this in Austin.”  So, that’s how we started the idea…that’s why we did.  And what I didn’t know fully is that they make people happy — not just because they go in your stomach but they just make you smile.

Owen
I have another question and this will maybe be a hard question.  Did you have people who wanted to do your business right away or did you have to convince them?

Wes
That’s a great question.  I called my friend one night…late one night and I said, “Brian, we’re going to start a cupcake business” and he said, “you’re crazy.”

Owen
Did you have some guests the first time you opened?

Wes
It did take a while.  When we opened up, some people came and they didn’t like the cupcakes so I figured out how to fix the them.  We made a number of changes to make things better.  Those are good questions!  I already know you’re on track to do some good things.

Owen
I love your frosting!

Wes
The frosting?  It’s my favorite part too.  I kind of use the cake…well the cake is really the vehicle to get the frosting.  (smiles around the horn)

What were you favorite things to do as a kid?  What is your favorite kind of cupcake?  Have you ever forgone the cake and headed straight for the frosting?

Next: More Shafspiration (The LEGO® Story)

Previous: Why Every School in America Should Teach Entrepreneurship

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. sheryl #

    really, really good stuff!

    August 19, 2012
  2. Theodore #

    Does eating the frosting straight from the container count?

    August 20, 2012
    • Technically, I don’t think it’s a cupcake at that point. But it is definitely foregoing the cake.

      August 22, 2012
  3. Jen #

    It would be interesting to hear the audio for this interview. Is this something you’ve considered? Jen

    August 21, 2012
    • No, I had not considered it….until now. Worth checking into. Thanks for the suggestion!

      August 22, 2012
      • Jen #

        It would be interesting to hear your kids ask the questions and I’d love to actually hear the responses from these entrepreneurs. I’ll keep my eyes (and ears) open! Jen

        August 23, 2012
  4. How awesome is this! I want all interviews from now on conducted by 6 year olds. In fact I want the news, sports commentary, and morning radio shows all run by 6 year olds. I could feel the joy in this interview and I’m so excited for parents and kids alike to have the Shafers showing how a little creativity can turn a regular afternoon into a totally amazing experience and memory!!!

    August 23, 2012
  5. Could you imagine a couple of 6 year old kids covering the upcoming election? It might even improve voter turnout. Not a bad idea :) Thanks for the kind note Jeff!

    August 27, 2012

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