LOS ANGELES — Matthew Jung is no stranger to startups.

He launched his first brand — surfing gear and apparel now owned by Huckberry — when he was 18 while attending Whittier College. Once that entrepreneurial bug sunk its teeth in, it never let go.

He has since launched several brands ranging from clothing to skin care, and today, he’s taking the country by storm as CEO of Los Angeles-based Last Crumb, a luxury cookie brand with a direct-to-­consumer (DTC) model more typical in the fashion industry than food.

Last Crumb sold its first cookie just two months after Jung met founders Derek Jaeger and Alana Arnold. For Jung, a self-proclaimed skeptic, skilled risk taker and disruptor, the opportunity was one he couldn’t pass up. The first meeting was like gasoline on a match, and the rest was fire.


“I candidly have no experience with baking, but I have a lot of experience building brands and launching direct to consumer,” Jung said. “Derek told me he wanted to build the ‘Rolex of cookies.’ It was crazy, but that’s what made it so intoxicating.”

Presented with nothing more than an amazing brand and what Jung would describe as perfect cookies, he jumped in.

“That’s not an uncomfortable place for me — joining something that hasn’t fully taken off yet,” he said.

Less than a year after that first cookie, Jung is changing how consumers access a product once reserved for jars in Grandma’s kitchen, the center aisle of the grocery store or the counter at the local bakery. These cookies have the same allure of an exclusive Hollywood nightclub, a limited-edition pair of Jordans, or even a Rolex. That’s because Last Crumb goes to market in quite a different way.

Oftentimes, DTC companies are marketing-focused, relying on a co-packer or co-manufacturer to make, package and distribute the product.  But for the Last Crumb brand, Jung opted for a different method. The company does its own baking, packaging and shipping, and people can only get Last Crumb cookies one way: by waiting.


The cookies are sold through the drop model, a marketing-style sales method that “drops” limited runs of product — sight unseen — for consumers who sign up online to receive the items on the next run. For a startup that had no marketing, no social media and no customer list, a drop model could bring people to the brand; Jung trusted that the rest would fall into place.

“I created a framework of looking at everything we did through the lens of the consumer experience,” he said. “The physical, digital, product, taste — everything. Then secondly, we had to make sure that if we did that right, it would position us as being seen the way we wanted our brand to be seen. I had a theory that if we focused on those, then sales would come. But we needed to nail the product, brand and experience.”

In those terms, the drop model wasn’t the question for this company, but perhaps the answer. It was a means to an end.

“The drop model came about because of our constraints,” Jung said. “We could only make so many cookies, and we had to start an email list from scratch. This was an organic way for us to build through the consumer experience and brand, and it allowed us to create the experience we wanted and pay off the brand in a cool and interesting way.”

And pay off it has. In just a year, Last Crumb drops sell out in less than a minute — every week — at about $150 for a box of 12 cookies. Through this model, the company controls the pace of its growth while scaling up at the same time.

With business booming at warp speed — Last Crumb is experiencing years’ worth of growth every few months — Jung has put his 15 years of startup experience into high gear. Only this time, he’s leading a startup he didn’t launch.


“This is the first time I’m running someone else’s company, not one that I started,” Jung said. “It puts me in a unique position because most startups are run by the person who founded them. But I have to credit Derek and Alana for having the wherewithal to say, ‘Maybe we should bring in someone with experience to round out the great things we are already doing.’ That’s been a key to so rapidly propelling our growth. I can see things differently because I don’t have that emotional attachment as a founder.”

Although the company had yet to be “born” when Jung took the helm, Jaeger’s and Arnold’s clear vision provided a firm foundation from which Jung could catapult the brand.

“Derek and Alana knew exactly what they wanted, and they knew what they wanted the product to be,” he recalled. “The question was, ‘Would anyone else want it?’ I knew the answer was yes, but the risk was not knowing if that would be the case. But we were unapologetically who we were and boldly building the company they wanted.”

That risk came with reward.  The cookie company recently secured a $1 million injection of capital to continue its trajectory.

While Last Crumb is riding the momentum of sellout drops, the innovation doesn’t stop. Jung is using that investment to fuel progress, first by moving out of its commissary and into its own facility 10 times larger. There, it can continue product development, scale up production and upgrade packaging to enhance the already memorable unboxing experience.

“We’ve been able to grow demand significantly, keep the momentum going and continue using the drop model while trying other things,” Jung said. “That’s not easy to do. It’s working great for us now and has helped with some of those flywheels of our organic growth.”

From Jung’s experience, the success wasn’t necessarily driven by the drop model. In fact, it might be fair to say that his skepticism played a critical role. After launching nearly half a dozen startups himself, he knows the potential pitfalls that come from those common misconceptions early-stage founders often have.

After all, rapid growth is not synonymous with easy growth. Jung and his team — having expanded from three people to 25 in about 10 months — take every step with intention, despite the speed.

“Things like, ‘We just need to throw it up online, do some drop models and we’ll make a lot of money,’ those don’t work,” he cautioned. “If it were that easy, I’d be living on a yacht right now. You can’t just build it and expect them to come.”

He compared a company taking off faster than expected to a sailboat riding a hurricane.

“Everyone is either trying to jump off the boat or change its course, but that won’t work,” he said. “My job is to trust the program and stay the course.”