U alum hopes to spread cupcake love to Mumbai

N-Cupcakes Colby Patterson
Erik and Cori Larsen pose with cupcakes as they plan to open a new cupcake store in Mumbai , India. Courtesy Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute,.

Erik and Cori Larsen pose with cupcakes as they plan to open a new cupcake store in Mumbai , India. Courtesy Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute,.

Utah’s cupcake craze is going global.

At least that’s the hope of U alumnus Erik Larsen, who is starting a cupcake company that will be based in Mumbai, India. Although the business will be unique in the country, Larsen isn’t a stranger to the cupcake business — he started his own in Salt Lake City while still a student at the U.

Thad Kelling, marketing and public relations director for the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, said Larsen and his wife, Cori, have high hopes for the business.

“Cupcakes are not yet wildly popular in India, and they’re hoping to change that,” Kelling said.

The cupcake scene in the U.S. has found a burgeoning success in the past few years thanks to shows such as the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” in which contestants compete to create cupcakes using bizarre, themed ingredients.

Larsen has appeared on the show three times. A foreign investor noticed him after his multiple appearances. The connection led Larsen and his wife to move to Mumbai with their young daughter to start another cupcake business, this one called “The Boston Cupcakery.”

Opening a business such as the Boston Cupcakery in India can present multiple challenges — the biggest being that much of the cooking in India is done over open flames, and workers at the stores may need to be taught how to use an oven, on top of the already-difficult challenge of mastering the cupcake recipes.

The Larsens have been working since September on their store, which opened last week, on Valentine’s Day. The family hopes the store will become a franchise in India, with up to 30 operating locations.
In Salt Lake City, Larsen’s origiAndrew1nal company, called Heaven Cupcake, is still going strong. The business works online through an ordering system, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Larsen met Cori in Houston, which has a popular food truck scene. The city’s surroundings inspired them to open a cupcake food truck in Salt Lake City, and Larsen’s business plan was aided by the U’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, at which he participated in a 12-week program, called the Foundry, to help get Heaven off of the ground.

Kelling said the Larsens’ story is a perfect example of taking advantage of the opportunities the Lassonde Institute offers.

“It’s something at the Lassonde Institute that we hope to inspire in students … whether it be in medical devices or in cupcakes,” he said.

Not everything there went according to plan with Heaven’s food truck. Their truck received a number of parking tickets, and they were often reported by restaurants for violations at their location.

Eventually, the Larsens decided it would be best not to have a physical location, and their website ordering system was born. Having cupcakes made-to-order can be advantageous — it allows for the freshest ingredients for a high-quality product.

In the end, the Larsens and their business associates hope the widespread love of cupcakes will bring them success. Ellie Madsen, Heaven Cupcake’s creative director and head baker, believes cupcakes have a universal appeal.

“I think they’re popular because they’re cute,” she said. “They’re fun to eat, and you can be creative.”

ivy.smith@chronicle.utah.edu