CEO, Feel Good Brands Corp
I wanted to do good and do well.
Every December, when Tuck first years are finishing their exams at the end of the first term, a truckload of Popcornopolis popcorn cones arrive on campus to be delivered to those first-year students. Sure, the popcorn itself is tasty—savory and sweet flavors like caramel, zebra, white cheddar, and cinnamon—but it’s the act of the popcorn that’s most appreciated after a gruelingly tough first semester.
The man behind this delicious gift? Lincoln Spoor T’84. “I remember that once the first term was over, I realized, OK, I’m going to make it. I’m going to enjoy myself,” Spoor says now, looking back at his time at Tuck. “That first term is a hard adjustment. That’s why I gifted the popcorn. I wanted to give the first year students a celebration of achievement and relief.”
Spoor, it turns out, is in the popcorn business. He’s the founder and CEO of Feel Good Brands, franchisee of iconic American food brands like Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Auntie Anne’s Soft Rolled Pretzels, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Hot Dog on a Stick and, yes, Popcornopolis. Spoor calls it all deliciously unhealthy food served fast. Not fast food. “In a world where we ration our calories, if we’re going to indulge, we’re going to indulge with the best,” he says. “That’s why people come back. You can taste the difference.”
Spoor was born in New York and grew up in Minnesota. After studying political science and history at the University of Utah, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a lobbyist for the food industry. His father, William Spoor, Dartmouth class of 1946, was in the food business, too: He spent his entire career working for Pillsbury, eventually becoming the brand’s chairman and chief executive. “I grew up surrounded by everything Pillsbury. It was a scrumptious childhood!”
“I decided I wanted to do good and do well,” Spoor says. So, after a couple of years in D.C., he enrolled at business school at Tuck. After surviving that first term, he focused on finance and dreamed of one day starting his own business.
“I knew I’d have my own business at some point, but I don’t know that I called myself an entrepreneur,” he says. Luckily, “Tuck prepared me for just about anything. It allowed me to develop the confidence in myself that no matter what I was facing in life, I had the ability to get through it.” I am very grateful for the Tuck experience.
After graduating from Tuck in 1984, he moved to New York City and spent the next 12 years working for Bank of America Securities, eventually as the managing director and head of high yield origination. He stuck with his interest in the food industry. “If there was money to be raised in a food company, I was the one to do it,” he says.
Then, one fateful day in 1992 in Alexandria, Virginia, a friend took him into a doughnut shop he’d never heard of before. It was called Krispy Kreme. “I tasted a hot original glazed doughnut and it changed my whole life,” Spoor says.
He contacted Krispy Kreme and asked if he could own a franchise. They said no. They weren’t franchising. For six years, Spoor asked and was denied. Then finally, they said yes. He was one of the first four people to own a franchise of the wildly popular doughnut company. He knew the business had the potential to be hugely successful, so he quit his finance job and dove in head first.
“Can you imagine anything better than this incredible doughnut? Unlike other foods, people remember their first Krispy Kreme,” he says. “Then you get to the analytical side. We had a 3,600 square-foot store with a drive-through window that just did doughnuts. A pure play. Low food cost, no competition. It’s a category killer.” And, Krispy Kreme had been in business since 1937. It had withstood the test of time. “Not many companies have been around for over 80 years. Not to mention the fact that a doughnut is happy food. Nor is it a trend or fad. It’s not going anywhere.”
He opened his first Krispy Kreme in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1998 and broke the company’s sales records in the first three days. Spoor rode the wave, opening Krispy Kremes across Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Montana and acquiring stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado. He added franchises for those other food brands, opened a food court in the Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and founded Feel Good Brands in the years that followed. He now splits his time between between Las Vegas and Sun Valley, Idaho, where he lives with his wife and their four children.
Back at Tuck, Spoor says he originally gifted doughnuts to the first-year students, but then realized that transportation was a problem. “The nearest Krispy Kreme store was in Boston and it was a logistical challenge.” So, when he added a Popcornopolis popcorn franchise to his company, it was the perfect solution.
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