“Our business feels an act of defiance, saying, hey, this is who we are. It is our refuge and the way we express ourselves.”

The superpower we’d like to have: Turning back time The person we’d most like to have dinner with: Oprah

Luis Gramajo and Hans Schrei

Using food to nurture your inner child and tell powerful stories

JOY IS AN ACT OF DEFIANCE. Luis Gramajo and Hans Schrei’s business is a joyous expression of their identities. Their company Wunderkeks, for them, is so much more than a bakery - and a wildly successful one at that. The pair’s vision for the business has become a symbol of creating a safe space for progressive conversations.

Their journey, from growing up in the developing world to launching an immigrant and queer-owned bakery that became a Hollywood sensation, has become local folklore. Wunderkeks’ origins can be traced back to Hans’ family kitchen in Guatemala, where the ritual of baking was a regular source of comfort during his childhood. As a gay man living in a country that wasn’t accepting of LGBTQIA+ people, he had always felt like an outsider. His passion for pastry was reignited in 2012 when he spent an extended holiday from work at Procter & Gamble baking cookies as Christmas presents for friends. “By the time the fifth person told me I should be selling these, I thought, okay, I should start a cookie business.”

Three years later, Hans met Luis, a professional photographer with a background in marketing and PR, and they quickly fell in love. With gay marriage illegal in Guatemala, they uprooted to Austin, Texas, and fused their creativity to establish Wunderkeks. Their mission is to nurture your inner child, an aspiration crystalized in their company mascot: a dinosaur wearing a tutu. “It felt like an act of defiance to say, hey, this is who we are. It is our refuge and the way we express ourselves.”

On the cusp of Wunderkeks going national, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. What they believed would be their breakthrough moment, a high-profile spot at South by Southwest for which they’d made 25,000 cookies, was lost, along with interest from retail giants. Instead, they took out a $5,000 loan and pivoted to e-commerce with zero experience. “In Guatemala, e-commerce didn’t exist around food, so we’d never thought about it. But we were asked to do it, and as an entrepreneur, you always say yes.”

HARNESSING THE VIRAL POWER OF MEDIA. Their story, combined with the brand’s upbeat and carefree aesthetic in uncertain times, quickly gained attention in mainstream media. From features on The Today Show to the Oscars (the latter with their gold leaf-covered ‘Red Carpet Fudgiest Brownies Ever’), Wunderkeks, by the end of 2020, had become a million-dollar business. Celebrity endorsements flooded in, but one in particular from Imagine Dragons’ singer Dan Reynolds had a transformative effect on the company, inspiring them to donate sales proceeds to LGBTQIA+ causes during Pride month.

However, the announcement saw them lose 10% of their subscribers and receive a wave of online abuse. The reaction made Hans and Luis realize they’d become complacent about attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community. “We realized that what we had in our hands was more than just cookies; we were becoming the signifier of a safe space. That realization was a huge moment for us. We need to stop being coy and put our foot forward with our identity and who we are because it is absolutely needed.”

Now, Luis and Hans, with the help of Jeff Furman, one of the minds behind Ben & Jerry’s, are developing a framework around Wunderkeks to encourage people to share their stories through food. “Regardless of what is going on in the world, food is always there. We use food to tell stories all the time, and the beauty of sweets is that we’ve ritualized them as symbols of love and care.

“Right now, we’re telling our story, but the next step for us needs to be listening to someone else’s – the people we’re trying to serve.”

Order your own copy of the Gaingels 100, today! Our mission is to encourage greater representation and create a more diverse, equitable, and accessible venture capital ecosystem. Elevating the stories of the most inspiring amongst us is one of the ways in which we do this.

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.