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Oct. 17, 2023

Graduate voice: How my time at MSU helped me create Groovy Donuts

Andrew Gauthier earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from MSU’s Broad College of Business in 2011. In 2015, Gauthier founded Groovy Donuts, which serves award-winning, hand-crafted donuts and locally roasted coffee at locations in East Lansing and Williamston, Michigan. He and Monica Gauthier, formerly Lucas (MSU Class of ’12), his wife and business partner, were recently named 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneur of the Year. He also earned recognition as a Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce 2023 Ten Over the Next Ten award recipient. Groovy Donuts also was named Capital Area Best Small Business at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala in May. 

Entrepreneurship is a truly unique experience. It can sometimes feel lonely and overwhelming. It tests your resolve, your confidence and your trust in yourself. But, it can also be among the most rewarding experiences in one’s life.

Much of the same can be said about college. It can be intimidating to leave home — I traveled about 1,200 miles from St. Petersburg, Florida, to attend MSU and I didn’t know anyone when I got there. It was a thrilling way to start my college experience, but I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous.

Throughout my first couple weeks of classes, I began to meet people, who at the time, I didn’t realize would become lifelong friends. I was thrilled to interact with peers of such varied backgrounds and interests. With some friends I watched football or basketball, with some friends I played IM sports, and with some friends I read the Wall Street Journal and talked about becoming an Investment Banker.

Andrew and Monica Gauthier pose with a glass award.
Andrew and Monica Gauthier accept an award for "2023 Entrepreneur of the Year" from the Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. Courtesy photo.

I now realize that allowing myself to experience the discomfort of establishing a social circle from scratch and avoiding settling into a comfort zone academically, socially or career-wise at MSU helped me build the skills for networking and building relationships as an entrepreneur today.

It was in my sophomore year that things seemed to crystalize for my career aspirations. I joined the Student Investment Association (eventually the executive board) and I was accepted into the Financial Markets Institute within the Broad College of Business — a great springboard for those seeking careers in high finance. The FMI opened the door to networking opportunities, honors and graduate level courses and advising/mentorship from two wonderful program directors: Elizabeth Booth and Helen Dashney.

These experiences eventually led to an internship and a two-year stint as an investment banking analyst at Wells Fargo Securities in New York City.

I never thought in a million years that this experience and a love of baked goods would eventually lead to me becoming the owner-operator of two donut shops in the Lansing area. But, I had a desire to strike out on my own. My experiences as an FMI Scholar and investment banker provided me with the business background, accounting skills and financial savvy to secure a startup loan and develop a successful business, despite having no background in baking or the hospitality industry.

It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. There were moments when I skipped a few paychecks to ensure my staff didn’t. I’ve had family members quit on me. I’ve had suppliers pull their product. I’ve had clients pull their orders. But, my experiences at MSU prepared me for the tough times. I already knew that I could handle feeling uncomfortable — I had done it many times during my college and early professional career. I also knew I had the support of great friends and mentors from my MSU days — people who I could reach out to for advice. And, despite dealing with a rough patch in my business, I had a dear friend tell me I had inspired their own dive into the entrepreneurial waters. I couldn’t give up and I wouldn’t give up until I had given it my best shot.

Since then, I am proud to say Groovy Donuts has enjoyed a fair amount of success. This has included being named SBDC Capital Region Best Small Business at the 2023 Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala and 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneur of the Year Award — both honors I am proud to share with Monica Gauthier, my wife and business partner, who is also a proud Spartan alum.

A white-frosted donut with green and white sprinkles sits on a wooden table.
A Groovy Donut is featured at a special pop up event held at MSU. Courtesy photo.

While I am incredibly proud of our achievements, some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an entrepreneur have involved my alma mater. We’ve enjoyed serving donuts at tailgates, department functions and student organization events. We were thrilled to participate in Eat at State’s Pop Up program, where we set up a donut bar at Case Hall this September. But, most of all, I’ve truly enjoyed offering my time and experience to students at MSU. It has been my absolute pleasure to speak to finance and entrepreneurship classes, to meet with aspiring entrepreneurs and act as a mentor in multiple MSU programs.

While my achievements may pale in comparison to other entrepreneurs who call MSU their alma mater, I feel that there’s a reason why many Spartans find success in this field. And, I believe the university’s slogan captures it perfectly: Spartans Will. The key to entrepreneurial success is the will not to give up, the will to ask for help when you need it and the will to help others when they are in need.

Michigan State University has meant so much to my life and my career. I am so fortunate not only to be a proud Spartan alum, but to continue to work with the university on a regular basis.

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