Former NFL teammates Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo, as well as their common friend Bryan Hynson, decided to pursue a more hands-on approach to entrepreneurship, and they are now widely recognized as The Cupcake Guys.
Griffin planned to set up a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise in Austin with Orakpo and Hynson after playing his final down in 2016 and receiving his degree from the University of Texas, based on an agreement they made.
“The only people that really have your best interests at heart is yourself. So, we agreed to start this business, we all agreed that it wasn’t going to be any significant others, it wasn’t going to be family, it was going to have to be us three that run and operate our store,” Griffin said to SI.
The two now-retired football players were involved in each step of the procedure, from choosing a location and obtaining permits to writing an operating agreement.
“It was a different side of a world that me and Brian Orakpo didn’t know anything about. We can talk football all day. But we had to learn about business,” Griffin said to ESPN. “Learning how to start up a LLC to getting someone who is going to be working with your account, to financing, just a lot of things we take for granted being professional athletes.”
In 2018, the three friends debuted Gigi’s Cupcakes in Bee Cave, Texas, after a year of planning and creating a store from the bottom up. Griffin and Hynson even renovated their whole store’s interior on their own, which they now perceive as a time-consuming mistake.
They had their own two-day training that required working from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for three weeks straight while learning how to open the shop, decorate, bake every cupcake they sold, be the cashier, and close the shop.
“The positive part that surprised me is how much they’re willing to actually get down and dirty. Grif will get in there and knock out 1,000 cupcakes on the day or Rak will be in there decorating the cupcakes and handling any kind of maintenance items,” Hyson remarked.
In 2019, the trio gained national attention after releasing a viral commercial for the Microsoft Surface Pro. Since then, they’ve been dubbed the “Cupcake Guys,” which they trademarked and used.
With the wild ride that was 2020, the Cupcake Guys rapidly adapted to the pandemic, switching to exclusively takeout and delivery orders. They also shared online tutorial videos on how to make cupcakes and collaborated with a local group that helps foster families.
The Texas natives even acted as hosts and judges for bakers competing for a $10,000 investment on Michael Strahan’s executive-produced Food Network show Cupcake Guys Training Camp in 2021.
Last year, The Story Lab and SMAC Productions, a division of SMAC Entertainment, developed the three men’s own reality show, The Cupcake Guys, about how they picked up a piping bag and cupcake tin when it came time to put the football down.