When former NFL teammates Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo decided to dive into entrepreneurship, they knew they wanted to do it differently. Former Pro Bowlers saw the detached and detached approach some athletes take to their investments and recognized that they needed to be more attentive to the steps they took to ensure success.
“The only people who really care about your best interests are yourself,” says Griffin. “So we agreed to start this business, we all agreed that it was not going to be any other important person, it was not going to be family, we were going to have to be the three of us who manage and operate our store.”
The two Titans teammates lived up to their pact. After playing his last attempt in 2016 and earning his degree from the University of Texas, Griffin planned to open a Gigi Cupcakes franchise in Austin, along with Orakpo and his longtime friend Bryan Hynson.
Their muffin adventure may seem like an odd combination for the 6’0 “, 200-pound safety and the 6’4”, 257-pound linebacker, but they both had a sweet tooth and thought muffins might be a recession-proof form. to learn about business.
“It’s something you’ll always see at any type of family gathering, at any type of celebration,” says Griffin. “People always have some kind of candy or some kind of cake at every event.”
Even though Orakpo was still playing in the NFL at the time, the two now retired soccer players were involved in every step of the process, from choosing a location and obtaining permits to creating an operating agreement. Griffin and Hynson even built the entire interior of their store themselves, which they now recognize as a time-consuming mistake.
And when it was time to put on the aprons and bake the store cupcakes, the NFL stars stepped up to the plate and used the same dedication that propelled them onto the field. With Griffin baking, Orakpo decorating, and Hynson manning the cash register, the three friends opened their store to the public.
“The positive part that surprised me is how much they are willing to get dirty and dirty,” says Hynson. “Grif will come in and remove 1,000 cupcakes in the day or Rak will be there decorating the cupcakes and handling any type of maintenance item.”
The trio began to gain national notoriety in 2019, when they released a viral commercial for Microsoft Surface Pro. Since then, people around them have dubbed them the “cupcake boys,” with whom they identified as trademarks and with those that were executed.
Last February, Texans even premiered a show with Food Network called Cupcake Guys Boot Camp, where the trio act as presenters and judges for contestant bakers who compete for a $ 10,000 investment. The show took viewers behind the scenes of his bakery and showed off his playful side.
“The Microsoft commercial was not written. The Cupcake Guys Training Chamberp was not written. That’s us, ”says Griffin. “We joke around all day. We just have fun. When you’re not having fun, that’s when you should stop. And that’s the same way we take football. “
With the roller coaster ride that was 2020, the Cupcake Guys quickly adapted to the pandemic, shifting to take-out and home-only orders. They also posted instructional videos online on how to bake cupcakes and even partnered with a local organization that helps host families.
As black business owners and leaders in their community, Hynson and Griffin also recognized the unique set of circumstances they faced last year after the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed.
“We have a lot of neighbors when it comes to business and that opened people’s eyes, and people began to verify [us] and we started to have more dialogue, ”says Griffin. “We all do well if everyone around us does well, you know, no man is left behind.”
Opening the Gigi’s Cupcakes The franchise has catapulted each of the Cupcake Guys to their own career paths. Hynson and Orakpo plan to open a sports game facility in Austin within the next year, while Griffin took a broadcast job with the Longhorn Network in 2018, covering his alma mater.
When asked if he had missed football since his retirement, Griffin did not hesitate to express his satisfaction with his post-retirement career.
“No, it was a chapter in my life,” says Griffin. “When I decided to retire for the first time, yes. But now you couldn’t pay me enough money to go back there. “
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.