By Alina Wong C’16 and Roopa Shankar W’16, Co-founders of NOMsense Bakery
‘Tis the season to celebrate indulgent moments through dessert with NOMsense Bakery, an e-commerce start-up that specializes in gourmet and handcrafted cookie sandwiches. The business, now officially a part of the Wharton Venture Initiation Program, is led by Alina Wong (C’16) and Roopa Shankar (W’16) and aims to add some innovation to the dessert space on the Penn campus… and to make the experience surrounding dessert fun again for Penn students.
Our core product, the NOMwich (two cookies + filling + drizzle + topping), has stayed constant since the inception of the business in early 2014, but what has changed about us has been our growth… especially during this holiday season. Though our bakery does not yet have a storefront, we have made sure to stay as relevant as possible to cater to the holiday spirit that we see around us. While also surviving finals!
NOMsense. Everywhere. NOMsense Bakery is now an official PO vendor for the university through the BEN Buys Purchasing System. This means that all faculty and student groups can now submit an order through the PO system so we can continue spreading the NOM love with ease. We’re so excited to have NOMwiches represented at the Harnwell College House dessert themed study break set for December 14, and William’s Cafe will be serving NOMsense cookie sandwiches at a holiday-themed late night event on the same date.
Giving. In the middle of November, NOMsense Bakery partnered with the Friars Senior Honor Society on their annual Friarside Coffeehouse event, which allowed attendees to pay $10 to see 10 performance arts groups (including Strictly Funk, Penn Masala, Excelano Project, and more) and enjoy a night of free coffee and food. 100% of the proceeds that night were donated to the Philadelphia Education Fund, and we were thrilled to be one of the food vendors at the event supporting the cause.
Innovation. Successful brands tweak product offerings every holiday season to ensure relevancy; it’s no different for us. We’re fusing collaboration and innovation to spread maximum NOM love. To support Penn Appetit, the premier student-run food magazine on campus, on its new issue release (titled “Flavors of Mexico”) we created two theme-inspired NOMwiches. We first created a churro-inspired cookie sandwich: two rich chocolate cookies, stuffed with cinnamon chocolate ganache, and finished with semi-sweet chocolate drizzle and a cinnamon sugar graham cracker crumble topping. The second was for the more adventurous dessert-lovers; inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, this flavor featured two rich, chili-infused chocolate cookies, filled with a cinnamon-chocolate ganache, and finished with a semisweet chocolate drizzle and crunchy chili crumble.
Collaboration. Tapping into creative energy through collaboration has always been key for our business, and this holiday season has been no different. During reading days, NOMsense is partnering with GivTake, an online marketplace for students founded by Erica Polle (C’17). GivTake and NOMsense will be offering free delivery of NOMboxes (4 cookie sandwiches for $12) to students all around Penn’s campus so students don’t have to give up their study spot in order to get their sweet fix. Learn more about the event here and place your order here!
New Opportunities. For the past year, we have been serving the catering market on campus for GBMs, conferences, and small and large scale events hosted by student groups and organizations. However, we are now gearing up to enter the wholesale market, and are thrilled to announce that NOMsense Bakery will be sold in Elixr Coffee (207 S. Sydenham St., Philadelphia, PA 19102) starting December 9. Customers will finally be able to enjoy indulgent NOMwiches alongside fresh hand-poured brews in the beautiful space downtown.
Overall, the holiday season has been about spreading the NOM love in collaborative and innovative ways. In fact, we would love to do more, give more, and be more this holiday season—but the reality of a student-run company is that we are both still constrained by the fact that we are first full-time students!
This has led us to take the plunge: we are currently recruiting for a spring 2016 team to consist of 5 new positions, including: 2 CMO’s, 1 CFO, 1 CIO, and 1 CBO (Chief Baking Officer). We hope to continue growing our presence on campus and in the greater Philadelphia area for the spring semester.
Wishing you a pheNOMenally sweet holiday season!
Bio: Roopa Shankar, from San Jose, is currently a senior studying Marketing at Wharton. Alina Wong, originally from San Diego, is currently a senior studying International Relations in the College. Stay in touch with NOMSense Bakery on Instagram and Facebook, or email us for order inquiries.