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Insomnia Cookies: The Brilliance of Marketing Towards College Students

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“I had a sweet tooth.”

And thus, Insomnia Cookies, now a major dessert name with over 100 stores open in the US, was born.


In 2003, Seth Berkowitz was in his junior year as an economics major at the University of Pennsylvania. He had a craving for late night study food, but wasn’t feeling the typical greasy offers of fried foods and pizza, so he began to bake his own cookies. Soon, other college students wanted them, and he began enlisting the help of his friends to bake and deliver orders into the wee hours of the night.


Right after graduation, Berkowitz felt more of a calling to his cookie company than working at an investment banking firm. After getting FDA approval, the summer was spent with trial and error, as he first tried a delivery-only model, then selling from trucks, then three brick-and-mortar shops around the country. @ Insomnia Cookies is now opening an average of two locations per month and does not franchise due to the shift in business model going from servicing customers to servicing franchise managers. Still, those aren’t bad growth numbers for someone who learned as they went right out of college!

College turned out to be the perfect incubator for this simple yet brilliant business idea. Lazy college students flocked to the idea of warm, fresh, chewy cookies delivered to their door, with milk if they so chose. Bakery shops are strategically placed near college campuses to attract the late night study (or munchie) crowd, and Insomnia Cookies offers marketing partnerships with sampling events for college students. Opening near a college campus is a popular business model because college students are somewhat restricted to local options, stay up late studying or partying, and word of mouth travels incredibly fast. But the shop has expanded beyond colleges and is now adored by cookie enthusiasts of all ages and professions.

Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies has a drool-worthy menu featuring, chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia, chocolate peanut butter cup, double chocolate mint, cookie cakes, brownies, ice cream, and catering options, all which qualify for their cookie DOUGH loyalty program.

Many dreamers are discouraged to follow their ideas, especially in the restaurant business. To that, Berkowitz says, “There is no better time than the present to give it a try. As your responsibilities grow, it’s so much harder to take the leap. That being said, I really enjoyed my college experience and entrepreneurship is a sacrifice.” Insomnia Cookies now has 25 corporate employees and more than 800 people working in its retail shops.

We’ll see you there!