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Recipe for success: Mike Tevlin & Dan Devlin, HBA ’81

  • Communications
  • |
  • Oct 3, 2016
Recipe for success: Mike Tevlin & Dan Devlin, HBA ’81

What started as a simple acknowledgement of their rhyming names soon became a wildly-successful partnership between Ivey alumni Mike Tevlin and Dan Devlin, the creators of the Two-Bite Brownies.

They returned to Ivey for their 35-year reunion and spoke to the HBA1 class for the Richard G. Ivey Speaker Series. The event is an annual tradition to kick off Ivey’s Reunion Weekend celebrations and to honour the legacy of Richard G. Ivey.

The two HBA grads met in their first month of the program and bonded immediately over their shared feelings about Ivey: both were excited and inspired, but completely overwhelmed. After they graduated, they moved to Toronto to pursue separate careers before realizing it was the perfect time in their lives to take a risk.

So they did.

In 1989, Tevlin and Devlin left their jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial venture: Give & Go Prepared Foods. It was a difficult start, with many sleepless nights and countless hours pouring over recipes and baking sheets. They each had their doubts during the harder times.

“The first butter tart order we got was for 1,200 tarts – the most we had ever made before was six,” Tevlin said. “It was a 20-hour day but we stuck with it and we trusted each other. You are all going to have stories like this at some point. Don’t quit. Trust each other.”

Their resilience paid off. In 1997, they crafted a snack that would launch their company to become one of the most successful bakeries in Canadian history – Two-Bite Brownies.

“They were magic,” Devlin said. “We had to hang on to our hats because we had the tiger by the tail.”

10 bites of advice

Tevlin and Devlin passed on some words of advice to current HBA students to complement what they were learning in the classroom.

  1. Be a mentor and be mentor-able – Both are a privilege, and both will help you grow.
  2. Be likeable –If people like you, they’re going to help you.
  3. Never quit – If you quit once, quitting the next time becomes a lot easier. You might lose, and that’s okay. Just don’t quit.
  4. Compete always – Don’t try to win at all costs and don’t be sleazy.
  5. Synergy is key – Form relationships and divide up the work. You can’t do everything alone.
  6. If you’re hungry, necessity will provide motivation – Don’t be scared off by the rocky parts of starting your own business. If you want it, you will accomplish it.
  7. Be someone your team can count on – Be there when your team needs you and be reliable.
  8. There’s more to life than being Number 1 – Define your own success. Outline what you want to do, measure what you think will be successful, make your plan, and then get after it.
  9. Get passionate about what you’re doing – Whatever you end up doing, be passionate. You’ll feel better and you’ll accomplish more.
  10. Details matter – If you’re going to start your own business, do some speculative analysis. Ideas are good, but they have to make sense. If they make sense, and you’ve done your homework, you’re going to be fine.