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Business Breakdown with Sagar Leva
Not everyone decides to launch a cookie business during their 3L year. So what drove Sagar Leva (left, above) to open a franchise for Crumbl Cookies?
So why open a cookie business? Are you passionate about cookies or is this a product of some other circumstances?
I am definitely passionate about cookies and dessert as a whole- I have a huge sweet tooth! However, I wasn’t out looking for a business to open when this opportunity came about. My business partner and I visited a Crumbl Cookies location in November 2019 and instantly knew that this brand was going to take off and we wanted to be a part of their journey. It was a gut feeling based on the customer experience. The second we walked into Crumbl and were greeted with “Welcome to Crumbl!”, we knew there was something different about this franchise. Their product also well surpassed our expectations. Crumbl has a weekly rotating menu which keeps customers coming back week after week.
What were your criteria for the business you wanted to launch?
First and foremost, I always make sure that I am passionate about the product that we sell. I was a huge Crumbl Cookies fan well before I became an owner. We were a good fit because of how we approached this partnership with the franchisor. We spent many months speaking with corporate to understand their mission, how they operate, focus on their long-term goals and how they plan to get there. We studied them as much as they studied us. They evaluated our background, experience, and our passion for the brand. Much of our talks were focused on why we want to join their partnership and what Crumbl means to us. I saw the difference in Crumbl vs other franchises instantly when I realized that Crumbl truly looks for a partnership and not just a typical franchisor/franchisee deal.
What's special about this franchise? Why franchise instead of building out your own concept?
This franchise understands what it takes to succeed and stand out by using marketing and technology. The founders had experience in marketing and technology prior to Crumbl, and our stores reflect that. We call Crumbl a “tech-driven bakery”. Our technology allows us to use data like never before to continue bettering the customer experience. Check out Crumbl Cookies on social media and you will instantly know how they differentiate themselves from competitors. TikTok has definitely helped Crumbl with brand awareness.
How did you get people to line up for your store before you opened?
We did strategic local marketing a few weeks before opening. We partnered with local influencers to come in the store and experience it before our Grand Opening and also worked with some media outlets in Lexington. But other than that, the community knew of the brand from social media and other stores. That’s what got them there the first time, but we get them to return by serving the world’s best gourmet cookie and providing outstanding customer experience.
What's been the biggest challenge in managing the staff?
There are many challenges with managing the team. The hardest, yet most rewarding part is teaching the younger team members the basics of the working world. We have a team of 50+ and about 30% are first-time workers. They definitely bring a lot of energy and I feel like I’m learning as much from them as they are from me and the other leaders in the store. I’m usually focused on more of the high-level administrative and strategic decisions for the store so I rely on the team members to know the details of each cookie and the store operations. I often ask my team members on how certain cookies/frostings are made because they have much more experience with that. Outside of work, my younger team members impress me every day with their professionalism and work ethic. We have about 12 15-year old team members that work in our store and they absolutely crush it!
Why practice law instead of slinging cookies full-time?
This goes back to the fact that opening a cookie store was never an end goal for me. I am passionate about Crumbl and what they are doing so I wanted to be a part of the journey. I think I will be able to manage both starting the fall and am looking forward to my legal journey as well! I’m particularly looking forward to learning deal structure in real estate and the entertainment industries. I have past experience in both fields and working on deals in those fields is what drew my interest to legal practice. At heart though, I will always be an entrepreneur and I suspect Crumbl is the first of many businesses I will join.
Inflection Point with Dhruva Krishna
If you were wondering what a former musician with a taste for country is handling graduating law school, the wait is over. Here's Dhruva Krishna:
The smell of cigarettes, Yuengling lager, and sweat wrapped me as I descended the stairs. Carrying a snare drum in one hand and my cymbals on my back, I stepped intothe hall as the opening band was sound checking. Jagged riffs yelled from an amplifier as the drummer played sweeping patterns across his kit. The sound guy’s voice crackled over the PA while he delicately adjusted each element of this post-rock symphony. I set my things down, closed my eyes, and let the music wash over me.
Before law school, I worked in music as a “jack-of-all-trades.” I ran a music venue, worked at a guitar company, and played in too many bands to count. You can imagine my parents’ elation when beta stopped driving between cities with a drum set and guitar to become an attorney.
Like the other graduating 3Ls, my law school journey was indelibly shaped by unprecedented circumstances – hostile political division, a global pandemic, and new virtual learning paradigms. Reflecting upon this journey after graduation, I realize how much these hardships strengthened my appreciation for my time as a musician.
The biggest lesson I learned as a musician was that there are no wrong notes. Everyone from Beethoven to Miles Davis has said as much. A “no wrong notes”mentality is not only useful for musicians, it can help lawyers and students build self-awareness, confidence, and flexibility.
A no wrong notes mentality emphasizes that it is your intention in playing and how you respond to the wrong note that really matters, not the note itself. Victor Wooten, the legendary bassist, has spoken at length about this. A wrong note played delicately in a ballad, or furiously in a blues, adds new complexities to one’s playing. Even if a wrong note is played unintentionally, there are opportunities for musicians to build upon the mistake skillfully.
Unfortunately, musicians will spend hours, weeks, and years endlessly finding the right notes and avoiding the wrong ones. Musicians can become hyper-focused on only using notes within a specific scale, tonality, genre. Their language becomes static, conventional, and uninspiring. These musicians are trying to avoid reality that they will inevitably play wrong notes. Without learning how to handle these scenarios, musicians can become paralyzed, full of self-doubt, and overly critical of their own abilities. Suddenly, a single moment stretches into songs or an entire set full of indecision andfear.
For a musician, applying the no wrong notes mentality is liberating. Many of the artists we celebrate are those with the confidence to challenge these conventions. What sounds off in a pop song is innovative in jazz. What sounds cliché in jazz may be a new frontier in hip-hop. One of my favorite musicians, Brian Wilson, is well known for his eclectic chord changes that broke the rulebook on staying “in key.”
For an audience of lawyers and students, the no wrong notes mentality can be just as powerful. At its heart, this mentality means being self-aware, allowing yourself to apply your skills flexibly, and deliberate if mistakes challenge your own identity.As a law school student, using the no wrong notes mentality meant seeing my journey as self-discovery. I struggled immensely with the decision to go to law school. My dream was to be a traveling musician and ending up as a bedroom poster. But I realized that I had other skills I wasn’t applying while chasing my musical dreams. I loved reading, critical analysis, research writing – and hours cramped in a van were not as fun as the documentaries make them seem. Despite law school seeming like “selling out,” the way I could truly benefit artistic communities was by blending my academic and musical chops. Despite it seeming like a wrong note, I acted with intention to change my stage from the music venue to the law library.
As I attended law school, the no wrong notes mentality gave me freedom to explore.Despite considering myself a strong writer, I did not have an expected passion for writing legal memoranda or litigating. I felt a lot of self-doubt until I realized that I needed to be flexible in addressing this wrong note. I began to explore transactional work, became fascinated with the dynamics of corporate negotiations, and ultimately secured a corporate firm position. I also found opportunities where my writing strengths could apply, specifically with independent research. Ultimately, I wrote multiple papers on the intersection of cutting-edge technology and the law that gave me a newfound appreciation of the challenges artists face.
Most importantly, I realized that the no wrong notes mentality reframed my journey that seemed disjointed compared to my South Asian peers. With an Ivy League sister in medical school, and a doctor and computer engineer as parents, my ambition to join Brad Paisley’s band wasn’t the most understood career path. I faced a lot of resistance not just from my family, but from the South Asian community generally.
Looking back now, I see that these experiences were extremely formative in how I crafted narratives about myself. I constantly criticized myself and felt hostility for not playing the right notes – not wanting to be an engineer, not wanting to be a doctor, and not thinking that living in a subset of zip codes was the endgame of the immigrant experience.
But looking back now, I see that none of these notes were wrong. That my unique journey, my unique experiences, and my unique passions (yes, I am an avid country music fan) all shaped me into the person I am today. Playing these notes with intention and recognizing their value in building my identity has motivated me to become a SouthAsian entertainment advocate with a powerful, clear voice. As I begin this new journey, being a musician has taught me that I need to worry less about if my notes are wrong, and truly listen to if they fit my song.
Today: Investing in Multi-Family Real Estate with Rohun Jauhar
The Pani Cooler investing survey had one clear result: members are interested in investing in real estate. Maybe it' not so surprising given the disproportionate South Asians footprint in the hospitality industry. But it's interesting how many turn to it from other paths.
That's why I'm interested in Rohun Jauhar's story. He's shared his journey from leaving a cushy job working at Facebook in Silicon Valley to open up his own real estate private equity firm and grown it to ~$500M assets under management.
Rohun will give a presentation with an overview on investing in multi-family real estate and give us a glimpse into the path ahead for those interested in moving into this space.
Join us today, June 18 at 5:00pm ET. Put in your calendar here.
Law Student Insights
We have tremendous legal talent among the students in this community. I've advocated elsewhere for law students to take control of their career by building a brand early by publishing and building an audience.
If you are a law student interested in sharing your insights and boost your profile with a national network of South Asian lawyers, you can have your insights published in Pani Cooler. You can apply here.
We have a couple of great pieces coming - stay tuned.
Sponsor: The Indie Guide To Building Your Legal Network
Everyone knows that the best opportunities come from your network. But growing your network is like working out - until you love to do it, it's a chore. And while it's hard to build the habit at first, once you figure out what works for you you're running at full steam.
So how do you build the habit? Just like the workout, you start small. You find a technique that works for you. And you understand the principles that make for a successful routine. You get that in The Indie Guide to Building Your Legal Network.
It's the playbook I used to go from a regional school to an AmLaw 20 firm. It's the book I wish I had when I set out to set my career.
Here's what Amisha Patel had to say about The Indie Guide: "Your writing is clear and concise, and I like how you weave in personal anecdotes and stories from others. You also outline a very clear action plan. Even as someone not in the law school setting, I found this extremely valuable in thinking about ways to reinforce many of the lessons that needed reinforcing on how to present well in strengthening and nurturing my network."
Pick up your copy here.