Sunny Beatson started baking yeast-raised doughnuts as a COVID-inspired side hustle. 18 months on, the 17-year-old entrepreneur has put school on hold to run the business full-time.
Sunny founded Beadoughs Donuts from his mum’s kitchen during COVID in 2020. Since then, Beadoughs has grown into a flourishing business with nine employees, a shopfront in Burnie and another soon to launch in Launceston.
“It first started because I wanted to, like most sixteen-year olds, buy a car. I know my parents couldn’t afford [to buy] me one, so I had to do something for myself,” says Sunny.
“I wrote down a goal and I said, I wanted $20,000 by the end of the year. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I’d never made any money before, but I just said, ‘$20,000 and I’ll find a way to do it’.”
The 16-year-old began cooking up a storm in his Mum’s kitchen, making and delivering yeast-raised doughnuts around Burnie—enlisting his parents as delivery drivers because he was too young to get behind the wheel.
“I posted on Facebook, May 22nd, I said ‘four doughnuts, $12, free delivery’. I put $10 on the ad to boost it and from then on, I had a few messages come in,” he says.
“The first week was a bit slow. I don’t know why I continued it. I just felt like there was something in it.”
Sunny was right. Within two weeks, his hard work began paying off. Other businesses had taken note of his success and word was getting around that his doughnuts were “better than Krispy Kreme’s”.
“After two weeks of doing it every day, getting up at 4 a.m. and making doughnuts and delivering them, IGA hit us up, and they wanted to order, like, 40 doughnuts. And that was ridiculous, the most we’d ever made was, like ten, so I had to find a way to make 40,” says Sunny.
From there, BeaDoughs Donuts skyrocketed. Sunny was juggling school, a job at KFC, and preparing and delivering doughnuts every day.
“I got up at 4 a.m. every morning, and then I would finish the deliveries and all the business stuff by 12 and I’d have to try to cram [schoolwork] between 12 and 4. It was online school at this point, so I didn’t have to be there at 9.”
Beadoughs quickly outgrew Sunny’s family kitchen. He reinvested the profits he was making into bigger and better equipment, and through word of mouth his business continued to grow.
“There were about three months where I was taking up the whole kitchen and Mum sort of wanted us to get out,” he says.
“She wanted her kitchen back, so we just wanted somewhere, like a small kitchen just to get out of the house. It just happened to have a shopfront with it, like a door and a pathway.
“So, we decided to build our own counter, and start selling from there.”
Before starting Beadoughs, Sunny had no interest in cooking. Other than watching a handful of Gordon Ramsay videos, the 16-year-old entrepreneur had never tried his hand in the kitchen. But stepping into the kitchen has changed everything, he says.
“During COVID we were home and we had so much time. We had time to experiment. I think a lot of people turn into chefs during COVID,” he says.
When brainstorming a business idea, Sunny decided he wanted to make something that required some skill, and a bit of love and care. Although they’re more difficult to make than cake doughnuts, Sunny decided that yeast-raised doughnuts were the way to go.
“I want something more special, more premium,” he says.
“I thought about Krispy Kreme’s doughnuts, a product that people love, and they’ve created a reputation around and that’s why I went with yeast raised doughnuts.”
Like many others stuck at home during COVID, Sunny learned to cook from the internet. He experimented with doughnut recipes he found online and tested them out on the ultimate critics—his brothers.
“I was just experimenting with different flavours, and I’ve got five brothers so they told me if it was a good recipe or if it wasn’t and so I mixed and matched a few different recipes from YouTube and Google, and came up with a few really good ones,” he says.
“My brothers were the quality control team. They were happy with that job.”
Sunny’s family have been behind him all the way. From taking on roles as delivery drivers to tasters, the Beatsons have helped at every step.
“I was super lucky that my family members were always supporting me,” Sunny says.
“They also didn’t have jobs at the time. My whole family was around supporting me from the beginning.”
Sunny took a break from school when the business took off, and now works full time running Beadoughs. Despite stepping back from his education for now, Sunny doesn’t feel like he’s missing out.
“When I left school, that’s when the learning started for me,” he says.
“I haven’t missed out. I’m learning and continuing to grow myself, and learning is everything to me. I haven’t stopped learning just because I don’t go to school anymore. I think I’m learning more here. I’m learning every day.”
So far, Sunny has learned a lot about the business world, but he’s also learning about himself in the process, and what it takes to be successful.
“There’s plenty [of lessons], but when you start hiring people, I think treating your employees right and learning to be a better leader… I think that’s the best lesson I’ve learned—how to build relationships with your employees and being a better leader.
“I’ve always continued to learn and grow and that’s why I’m improving and the business is getting better, because I’m always open to new ideas and I’m curious and I want to learn.
“I haven’t really had time to look back. Now when I think about it, I just take each step as it comes and I don’t really look back.
“But if you told me one year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
BeaDoughs’ menu features an array of classic doughnuts and a rotational specials menu, and the team are constantly introducing new flavours. To improve his business, Sunny is always welcoming feedback from customers.
“We ask the customers. The customers are our inspiration. We listen to what they want and we make it happen,” he says.
In addition to their shopfronts, Beadoughs operates a trailer around Tasmania’s north west. In their trailer, they follow the demand.
“Our customers tell us where they want us to be. The more interest we get in the area, we’ll either try to get council approval, or hit up a private vendor to let us stay on their property. Wherever the interest is.”
With the upcoming opening of Beadoughs’ Launceston store, Sunny is content to ride the wave of success, with no clear plans for the future just yet.
“I’m trying to figure the next part out, taking it one step at a time. As long as I can keep developing and growing and improving every day. I’m not sure where that will take me but I’m only young and I’ll figure that part out,” he says.
After 18 months of hard work, Sunny has more than achieved his goal of $20,000 to buy a car, and shows no signs of stopping.
“The car was a little bit delayed,” he says.
“I was reinvesting the money to grow the business so as I learnt, my decision and knowledge changed and developed.
“I didn’t get a car until September. It was a small ute, around four grand. Not the twenty grand car that I wanted, but a car to do deliveries.
“But now I have a Subaru Forester, which is a little bit of an upgrade, so I’m happy with that,” he laughs.