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Five Minutes With A Tulane Entrepreneur

 
Sorensen (middle) with business partner Colin Manikin (right) and Mark Mayer (left) of Peter Mayer Advertising.

Greg Sorensen is a 2011 graduate of Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. He began working full time at his family’s commercial bakery – Baker Maid Products – during his senior year at Tulane and has since taken over operation as the Vice President. Founded in 1953 by Greg’s great-grandfather, Baker Maid first became famous for their classic fruitcakes packed in tins picturing the St. Louis Cathedral. Under Greg’s direction, the bakery has gained fans with delicious products like the Krewe of Zulu King Cake and Love, Cookie. 

How has Tulane had an impact on your life?

Graduating from Tulane gave me the tools and the confidence to take my family’s business in a new, exciting direction. The Tulane community is full of talented, ambitious people, and spending four years in that environment was extremely impactful. Aside from teaching incredibly valuable skills, Tulane’s culture makes you feel like you can accomplish anything.

Also, I would be foolish to not mention my business partner Colin Manikin (SE ’10). We met my freshman year at Tulane. He is one of the reasons our company has grown so much the past few years. We began working together while still taking classes at Tulane six years ago, and without him I probably wouldn’t have much to talk to you about.

What was one of your favorite memories during your time on campus?

Freshman year I lived on Sharp 3, and there were a lot of great memories there. I was also into Greek Life as a member of Delta Tau Delta, but I think most of those memories would be better told at The Boot.

One of my favorite memories from Tulane was taking Sidney Pulitzer’s class – Entrepreneurial Management. I took it the last year he taught it, before his son Copey took over for him. Professor Pulitzer owned and operated Wembley Tie Company in New Orleans, a family owned manufacturer of neck ties. Wembley was an extremely impressive local company so I was excited to take his class.

I had just started working in our family’s commercial bakery; it was my senior year. Working full time and taking a full class load at Tulane was challenging, but that class inspired me to see it through. Professor Pulitzer brought in family business owners and all sorts of other entrepreneurs to teach the class each week. Aside from being incredibly fascinating, it also made me feel really good about what I am working to accomplish in my role at Baker Maid. I’ll never forget that. I keep the book he made for the class in my desk at work still. I also make the King Cakes for Professor Copey’s class now, and I always enjoy getting to do that for him.

You’re used to serving up King Cake throughout the city, how did it feel to provide a little taste of New Orleans to Tulane alumni events across the country?

Well, Tulanians love King Cake – no doubt about that. I definitely appreciate that I can participate with Tulane in that way. I enjoyed my time at Tulane, so it’s really fun to bake King Cakes for any students, alumni, or staff. But I have to say sending 52 King Cakes and a little slice of New Orleans to Tulane alumni Mardi Gras parties around the country had to be the icing on the cake!

What advice would you share with other young alumni interested in entrepreneurship?

Find people smarter than you and hang onto them. I don’t have a lot of advice about starting from scratch because I was fortunate enough to have some infrastructure to walk into, although that definitely came with its own challenges. But if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that your success is highly determined by who you surround yourself with and how you work with them.

What’s next for your growing bakery?

We just launched our newest brand – Love, Cookie.

Our goal when Colin and I started here at Baker Maid was to provide high quality bakery items to grocery stores, and we have been growing in that direction. We make a lot of frozen cake items that are decorated and sold in bakery departments at the grocery store, and that has been great for us.

Our dream though has always been to develop meaningful brands that are unique and extremely delicious. Love, Cookie is our first big brand launch, and we are trying to grow that across the country. We love the product and feel really strongly about it, so keep an eye out for them!