Take a moment to meet Adam DeBacker, a Theatre major and entrepreneur, and owner of Truffles E Truffles.
Tell us about yourself. I am a senior BS Theatre major from Springfield. My emphasis is in theatre design and technology, so obviously in addition to cooking, I spend a lot of time in theaters working spotlights, painting sets, and so on. I also play D&D, enjoy traveling, and sing in my church choir.
On campus, I am involved in Delta Alpha Pi honor society, the new MSU Theatre Department chapter of United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT), and Ekklesia.
Tell us about your business. I have always enjoyed cooking. When I was ten years old, I made some chocolate truffles for an event that my grandmother was hosting at her business- an art gallery- in Springfield. People liked them a lot and asked where she got them. It gave me the idea that I should start selling them, which I did. My mom helped me with a business plan, packaging, and leveraged my business expenses to get started.
The name Truffles E Truffles sounded funny and catchy to me when I was a kid, so that is how the name came about. Word spread, and my business grew. I started participating in larger events, such as the Wine and Chocolate Festival.
I also became a member of the American Culinary Federation. The local chapter supported me a lot with training and mentor-ship. They also nominated me, when I was 15, for Chef of the Year and awarded me a scholarship to attend the National ACF Conference.
While I have been in college, I haven’t had as much time to do marketing like a used to, but recently I was awarded a large grant for $10,000 from Voya Cares as their 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year, so I am looking for possibilities to expand Truffles E Truffles to do both retail and wholesale business after I graduate. During the 15 years that I have been in business, I have been profitable enough to save and pay for a big chunk of my college expenses.
What are your career plans and how does this business figure into those plans? As I said, I am graduating with a BS in Theatre. I hope I can find jobs in my field, but if not, the truffle business will help with that. I would also like to use the entrepreneur grant to find a commercial kitchen to use to expand as well as hire some employees.
I have Down syndrome (what is considered by most people to be a disability), and the Voya Cares organization who gave me the grant advocates for employment opportunities for people with disabilities. So, finding a way to collaborate with another business or community organization to support and employ others with disabilities is something I would like to see happen as well.
What has been the hardest part about being a college student running a business? Time. My first passion is theatre, and classes are my priority. So, making chocolate truffles has definitely been put on hold while I have been in school. Before I was in college, I was able to do demonstrations, events, and really a lot more marketing.
Since I am going to graduate in May, I recently started focusing a bit more on my plan for my business going forward. I also started marketing directly to the campus community- offering free delivery to dorms and advertising to parents who want to send goody boxes to their students. President Smart ordered truffles for his staff at Christmas last year and tweeted about it, so that was a big boost!
What have been the best lessons you have learned? I used to give demonstrations and presentations to school kids about starting your own business and about my truffles. My biggest advice to them was to find your passion and then have a goal for yourself. When I was younger, one of my passions was cooking. Truffles were something that I could do to make money from something I enjoyed.
I also set a goal for saving all of my profits from the business to go on an African safari. I always wanted to go on a safari. I saved about $10,000 to do that. Then I ended up spending it on college expenses as well as on my personal fitness goals. Another lesson is to find mentors to help and support you. Other people who are as passionate about it as you, but have more experience are the best people to learn from.
How would someone order your product? The easiest way is to visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/trufflesetruffles. There is a direct link to order online. Or, email me at TrufflesETruffles@att.net