Welcome to the Small Business Spotlight, hosted by JAISIN Insurance Solutions. I am Racquel Goldy, and the goal is to bring more awareness to businesses and entrepreneurs in the local community. That being said, I am here with Garrett Goodman, owner of How Ya Dough’n?
You have a different story than most: you took advantage of the pandemic. You and your wife, Gabrielle, created How Ya Dough’n? out of your house in Boca Raton, Florida. So tell me how the company was born?
So it’s a really interesting story. I bought this portable pizza oven (it’s called a Roccbox) from a Kickstarter program many, many years ago, and I was just using it as a little passion project. I was originally buying pizza dough from any place that would sell it to me, like out of the mall or wherever I could find it. Then one of my really good buddies, who actually introduced me to the Roccbox, was like “Be a man, make the dough yourself”. So I thought, “alright, fine”.
I bought all these books and I just spent every minute of my day reading, doing research, and finding them. Like you said, when the COVID came around, I was making pizzas for just my wife, my daughter, and my neighbors. They were bringing in these cookie sheets and I was handing pizzas over my fence to my neighbors. Then they were going home and posting pictures about it on Instagram and Facebook, and people were saying “Oh my God, the sense of normalcy!” People were saying these pizzas look amazing, and started reaching out to us. They were saying, “I would buy those!” Originally I wasn’t into it, I felt like pizzas were just fun for me and I am doing it to just give away to friends and family. Then my wife said, “You know what? Let’s give it a shot.” So I said we are not doing it unless we come up with a good name; and the name How Ya Dough’n? was born almost immediately. It was one of the first ones that came up, and I felt like, wow, it’s a home-run! I went online to see if anyone else had the name, but no one else did.
I was shocked! So I reached out to the trade marketer to lock this thing down. We set up an LLC and started selling pizzas originally on on Fridays out of our house between 3:45 to 8:45. The first week we sold 25, the next week 35, the next week 45, then 55! We were having such trouble meeting demand that my wife and I decided to try a second night. I didn’t expect for it to sell out as quickly as it did on the second night, especially as it was Wednesday. Friday is a little bit different, people are leaving work; but the same thing happened again on Wednesday. I was like, this is crazy! I think we have something here! I had a really good career at a place I was working at for many, many years. My wife and I talked, and I said, “You know what, this is my passion. We have a really good cult following right now, I can’t make them fast enough! Let’s give this a shot.” Then I spoke to my business partners at my old place. I said, “Look, I am going to go and chase my dream.” They wished me all the best of luck and I wished them all the best of luck, and we parted ways not too long ago. How Ya Dough’n has become a full time gig for us at this point.
That’s incredible! Have you always been interested in pizzas and food? Why pizza, why not like cookies or something?
It is such an interesting question. It’s funny because if my parents were like standing on the side of me, they each weigh like 102 pounds. They are like the healthiest people in the world. They are like, “I’ll have my salmon grilled dry, no butter no oil, steamed vegetables.” It’s like I don’t even know where I came from!
My love for food and hospitality has always been like a big passion for me. It’s funny, I never really knew so much about like the back-end of the restaurant. I am really more of a front man, like how a customer should be treated. It was always more of I know what I wouldn’t do, not so much I know what I should be doing. I learned a lot from How Ya Dough’n from a customer service standpoint, which is why we have got such a loyal customer base. For us there is no rhyme or reason for when we give somebody a free pizza; we are thinking, “Oh cool, we have seen you a couple of weeks in a row, you ordered pizza, let’s give this guy a free pizza!” They used to tell one person, the next person, and they kind of just exploded on us.
But about pizza, I grew up in New York. Like every New Yorker, I know pizza. It was always something fun for me, I always enjoyed it. It was really the Roccbox that took me to the next level of actually finding it therapeutic to get your hands dirty and mix pizza dough, and try stuff out and do the research. That’s how pizza became like my passion project.
What do you think made your company so popular? Do you think it was because it was just good timing? What do you think was the key point?
I think it’s a combination of a few factors. Number one, obviously, it sucks for big brick and mortar stores. These families put their blood, life, sweat, and tears into these big places, and unfortunately from lockdown people either couldn’t go or didn’t want to go. So these customers kind of fell onto our laps on that front. My daughter goes to school, she is three. She is at a little private school, and the mothers just spread it like wildfire; from one mom telling another mom to another mom. That’s really how “How Ya Dough’n?” was born. It was through the moms from social media who decided this pizza looks great, let’s give it a go. That’s really how it started, but a lot of it I attribute to the fact that (I don’t want to pat myself on the back) it’s good pizza.
I made a promise to myself, to my wife, and to our customers that we would never skimp on ingredients. I source the best I can and the thing is that is unique about us (I don’t want to call us quick service, we are) we really are not a sit-down restaurant. We are like pickup and delivery, but the thing that is really interesting about pizza is each one is unique; they stretch to a different size, I don’t measure it like this one gets three ounces of sauce, three ounces of cheese, four slices of pepperonis, etc. I want the pizzas to be beautiful and great the way that I would want to eat them.
Many, many years ago, I was working at a bagel place. The owner, he owned a couple of them (and I am surprised he was as successful as he was). I would make these bagel sandwiches, and he would say, “No, no, no, no, no, you can’t put more than three slices of tomatoes on them!” And I replied, “But sir, it looks terrible, the tomatoes don’t look good.” I was adding four or five of them, and he tells me “You are in the wrong business, you need to be in high-end gourmet service, this is quick service food.” In my head, I am thinking if it doesn’t look good, it doesn’t taste good, why would somebody come back? For me, when it comes to making pizza, I always said I don’t care if this one gets a little bit more cheese and a little bit more sauce, as long as the customers enjoy it and they keep coming back. That is what was important to my wife and I as a family business, that is what was important to us.
What do you think the most important aspect of your company was when creating How Ya Dough’n?
I think it’s the customer experience. What it comes down to for us is we are not a cheap pizza, we are definitely a higher-end pizza. But I think it’s the branding and the customer experience and the name.
People send us messages through Instagram, and it is always like, “How Ya Dough’n, Jim?”, “How Ya Dough’n, Rick?”, “How Ya Dough’n, Stacey?” We have built a fun environment around the business, and I think that’s part of what people keep coming back for aside from like the fact that the pizza is good. I would also say one real differentiating factor between us and the average pizza places is our pizza is all-naturally leavened sourdough pizza. It’s not like we take commercial yeast out of a bag; it took me two weeks to get the starter going, and to keep it alive is its own project. Trust me when I tell you my wife would kill me; there is flour all over the place and I stink like pizza at the end of the day. Our kitchen was exploding with pizza stuff, she was like ready to kill me at some point, but it’s part of what made us who we are at this point.
Any words of wisdom to anyone out there who is wanting to really take a leap of faith and start their own business? What would you say to them?
Do it, do it one hundred percent! Do it with passion and love; and if you are not ready to commit to it one hundred percent, don’t do it. That is the truth, because you get one shot at it, especially in the beginning of building a good customer base and a reputation. If you are not one hundred percent ready to commit to it, then don’t do it. This is partially why I gave up a really good career that afforded me a really good life. I was happy doing what I was doing, but once I found what I really, really love, for me to commit to it and do it to the level at which I wanted to, it needed to be a full-time thing. That would be my number one biggest piece of advice; so if you are going to do it, commit to it one hundred percent.
Now where is “How Ya Dough’n?” going to be going in future?
This is a really good question. When we first started talking about it, our goal was to franchise. I firmly believe that as “How Ya Dough’n?” continues to grow that we have a really good team behind us. We have really smart people from all different walks of life including financial advisors, insurance agents, some of which actually worked with Jason (that is how we got linked up and they have nothing but great things to say about Jason). We want to open four or five locations, and we decided we wanted to do it in-house. If it’s a slower growth and we pay for it in-house, so be it. But eventually we would like to have four or five locations, and watch my kids come into the business with me and become dough people with me. That is the goal.
I love it! I am very excited and now I need to taste this pizza, because I think that is just the natural progression of this interview.
Yeah! I would say we post a menu on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. for pizzas on Wednesday, and on Wednesday we post a menu on at 10:00 a.m. for pizzas on Friday. They typically sell out very, very quick, so if you are going to get to it, get to it as early as possible is what I would recommend.
Why JAISIN Insurance Solutions?
Jason is one of the few people that I know I can trust to give me the answer regardless of if it’s the one I am looking for or if it’s not. I know he is not going to sugarcoat it; he is going to give it to me for real . He is just a smart guy, Jason is just a sharp all-around guy. I have worked with him from my previous career into my current career, and I have always felt that if I gave Jason a call, number one he is going to pick up and he is going to answer, which is not the norm, but always he is going to give me a true, clear, decisive decision based upon facts. Again, I grew up with a dad who wasn’t going to sugarcoat it and he was going to tell you what you maybe didn’t want to hear. But at the end of the day it’s what you needed to hear, and that is what I always loved about Jason. He is a knowledgeable guy, he knows his business. The same way that I feel like I know pizza, I know Jason knows insurance solutions. He has helped me with numerous different kinds of insurance at this point, and he has always found a great solution for me that has benefited me. He has helped me grow because he says you may not need this now, but you will need this in the future. And I reply, ok, let’s table this for right now. There has been plenty of times where I have come back and said, “Wow, I didn’t think about that, but thank God you did!” That has been something that has been important for me to help us succeed.
I can’t say enough about Jason and his team, honestly. As much as it is him, he has got a great team of people behind him, and I couldn’t recommend them more than I already have. He has been great for me for everything that he has done.
Where can everyone find you on social media?
If you go onto the Instagram and you type in @howyadoughn, you will find us there. Follow us, tell your friends about it! We will love to have you guys any time you want to come by, let us know, and we will schedule you a spot of pizza