The final round of the Discovery stage of the University of Virginia Entrepreneurship Cup (E-Cup) takes place next week (21 February at 4:30 pm)! The top five teams will win $5,000, and three of the 11 finalists are from Darden:

  • Single Baked Sweets – Melissa Stefaniak, EMBA Darden Class of 2019
  • Slay – Jade Palomino and Kelly Bonilla, Darden Class of 2020
  • Trulli – Amanda Joseph and Pat Adams, Darden Class of 2019

We recently caught up with Melissa Stefaniak to talk more about Single Baked Sweets (Pro Tip: Check out her ExecMBA Podcast interview). Stay tuned for additional interviews with Slay and Trulli! 

What is Single Baked Sweets?

Single Baked Sweets provides single-serve, bake-at-home dessert kits that come with the pre-measured dry ingredients, bakeware and simple instructions needed to make a delicious, homemade treat for one.

How did you come up with the idea?

I came up with the idea for Single Baked Sweets based on wanting to solve my own pain point. I love to bake, but have been living in New York City for eight years in tiny apartments with little-to-no counter space or storage. So baking up fresh-made treats is both a hassle and often leads to waste from throwing out leftovers. I thought if I could just miniaturize some of my favorite recipes, I would be able to have the satisfaction of making something delicious, from scratch with real ingredients, but without the guilt or waste.

Why did you decide to enter the E Cup?

UVA’s E-Cup competition is a fantastic resource for entrepreneurs. First, it’s an opportunity to put your concept or idea down on paper and defend your decisions. Often when starting out, you’re running so fast to build or launch that you don’t document the progress you’ve made and why you’ve made that progress.

Second, the competition is a wonderful way of sharing your business with others, so that they can understand where you are and provide feedback. It’s a very supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem at UVA, and having advisors, mentors, students and community members offer their input and help you shape and improve your business is critical.

And third, you have a shot at winning grant money, which goes a long way in turning your early-stage idea into a reality.

How has Darden helped you develop/refine your business idea?

Where do I start! I came to Darden with the single goal (and hope) I would give myself the chance to see this dream through in terms of launching Single Baked Sweets.

From Day 1, meeting my classmates who are experts in their fields and always willing to jump in and support the business or offer advice, to having the MBA curriculum and coursework prepare me to make important business decisions, to having access to all the entrepreneurial resources Darden has to offer (like the E-Cup competition series, iLab Incubator and Darden Venture Lab), I’ve been able to grow Single Baked Sweets from concept, to launch, to now a revenue generating business with a new goal of expanding online. It’s been a fantastic growth experience that is still just getting started.