SALT LAKE CITY — Jason McGowan says one secret to Crumbl's success is not worrying about competition.
Which seems almost impossible, with new cookie delivery companies on the rise in Utah.
But this mindset seems to have treated McGowan and his company co-founder Sawyer Hemsley well, as they now have 13 cookie delivery locations in Utah and three outside the state.
In fact, McGowan says Crumbl was "born into competition." Within days of its opening, Baked opened up with a similar business model — delivering large chocolate chip cookies to Cache Valley residents' doors.
Early on, McGowan and Hemsley — who are cousins by marriage — decided not to worry about their competitors, instead focusing on cookies and customers.
"We sat down and we thought, 'Ignore everyone else and just focus on ourselves and being the best Crumbl that we can be,' and we feel like the rest will take care of itself," McGowan said.
Both companies opened in Logan in September 2017, unknown to each other until about a week before they both opened.
While it's unclear which one was the original Cache Valley cookie delivery service (Baked delivered first, while Crumbl opened a store first), neither of the two were Utah cookie pioneers. Nationwide chain Insomnia Cookies has been in Utah for years, McGowan said, and Chip Cookies opened about a year before the two Logan competitors.
But now, both Crumbl and Baked have expanded beyond Cache Valley and even out of the state, and now compete with and have even surpassed other big names in cookie delivery.
Baked has since opened two new locations: Lehi and Rexburg, Idaho.
Crumbl's 16 stores span across Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, reaching as far as St. George, Las Vegas and Meridian, Idaho. Its 17th store will open in January in Sugar House.
McGowan says Crumbl is now "the largest cookie delivery company in Utah, by far."
So how did they do it?
"We never thought we were going to have more than one when we first started," McGowan admitted.
They had started in Logan partially because Hemsley was living there and attending Utah State University. When they saw great success, the business partners decided to expand.
McGowan lived near Orem, so they opened their second store there. Then word of the Crumbl brand spread quickly across the Wasatch Front.
McGowan said that as soon as they decided to expand, they determined to expand fast. This determination, McGowan believes, was key to their brand blowing up all over Utah, along with strategy, timing, social media and other factors.
But he thinks the biggest reason is their cookie selection. They perfected their chocolate chip recipe, he says, and then added other options. They now offer several varieties on a weekly rotating menu.
"The only thing that matters to us is having the best cookies and the best customer experience in the world," he said.
"If we're sitting there thinking, 'How many stores do we have compared to someone else?' We don't really care," he continued. "We say, 'How fast can we move?' 'How can we have the best chocolate chip cookies?' 'How can we have the best quality customer experience, whether it's the opening of the box, the smiles that you get at the door, or whatever?'"
They worked on their recipe for months before opening, and testing was an important part of Crumbl's success, McGowan said.1 comment on this story
"I come from the world of software, where you have testing to see which one's better," he said.
They performed many A/B tests using friends, family and even strangers, McGowan said.
McGowan and Hemsley had both successfully started up other companies, and McGowan says he believes in hard work, dedication and not hesitating.
"When you want to get started on something, sometimes the best thing to do is just get started," he said.
So that's what they did when they decided, 'We're going to open a cookie shop,' and they haven't looked back since.