Business Growth Strategy
Why I started Feverish Pops...
The most popular question I get from people I meet is: ‘How did you start Feverish?’ My answer is simple, I fell into the business. Actually, it was more like a trip, stumble, and epic fall.
Two years before starting Feverish I was leaving a party and – like clockwork, as soon as I walked out of the gate, an ice cream truck drove by. I heard the music, and I turned into a five-year-old kid again and started chasing after it. I completely forgot that I was wearing heels. I am sure you can guess what happened next. Yep, I fell flat on my face, chasing after an ice cream truck in heels!
I looked left and right to make sure no one was laughing at me, and I saw the ice cream truck driver. Thankfully, he stopped, but he was laughing at me.
Two big ideas came to me while I was on the pavement:
1. I’m way too old to be chasing after an ice cream truck.
2. Why hasn’t anyone come up with a cooler way for adults to enjoy ice cream?
That was my, “Ah-hah!”, Oprah moment. I toyed with the second question for about two years. I had a sketchbook with all these different ideas and drawings and cut out pictures and inspiration from the internet, like the old- school Pinterest. But I really loved what I was doing in experiential marketing at the time, so I let it go.
While I was working for Nintendo, my husband and I both worked on the team that launched the Wii Fit campaign. Unfortunately, the economy started going downhill in 2008, our contracts ended, and we both ended up unemployed.
So I thought… “Now is the time to start this thing.” When I say we started on a super-low budget, it’s an understatement. I started by purchasing two ice cream carts from Craigslist. I had no money for a fancy graphic wrap so I spray painted and decorated them completely by myself.
I put up a free profile on a website called MyPartyPlanner.com and on Myspace.com. I literally started showing up at events that I hoped some day would actually pay me to be there. (That’s called Positioning. We will talk more about that later in the book)
For a while, I was just trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. I was still trying to figure out how I was going to make money off this wacky idea. Sometimes I gave away free ice cream because I was afraid to sell it, but after a while, I built up the confidence to show up to places and sell. I figured out a few things really early.
I knew that I didn’t want to drive around neighborhoods and sell to kids, because that market was saturated. Also the last thing I wanted was people I knew laughing at me and saying, “Oh my God, look what happened to Felecia’s life after college. I thought she was such a promising student.” I knew I wanted to create something that was really different and that was tailored towards adults. That’s when we decided to focus on offering unique ice cream and specializing in ice cream catering, and a little bit of street vending.
Fast forward to the present. We make gourmet popsicles with really unique flavors like Pineapple Basil, Raspberry and Sweet Tea Vodka, Chocolate Salted Coconut, Mango Bourbon and Strawberry Balsamic We have a line of vegan-friendly gourmet popsicles and spiked popsicles made with all-natural, organic ingredients and organic evaporated cane juice as a sweetener. We produce everything locally in our Midtown Miami shop.
Our claim to fame is our line of spiked popsicles that we launched about two years ago. It’s a cocktail on a stick (pretty cool!). Offering such a unique concept and product has garnered lots of media attention from outlets such as The Today Show, the Cooking Channel, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine, the Boston Globe, UrbanDaddy, The Miami Herald, Daily Candy, AllBusiness.com, and The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch.
We were honored at the White House for the Empact 100 Awards, for being one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs under the age of 30; Top 10 Superstar Entrepreneurs by AllBusiness.com, NBC Grio’s 100- Top 100 African Americans Making History and Mother Nature Networks named us one of the Top 10 Eco-Friendly food businesses.
All of the great media attention and accolades helped us launch our PopPreneurs Entrepreneurship Training Program that teaches young kids how to launch their own pop business and engage in technology development. And now our client roster has grown to include big clients – Google, Cadillac, JCrew, William Sonoma, Adidas, Forever 21, Cirque du Soleil, Tom Cruise, Whole Foods, BB&T Bank, Universal Music, Capital Records, Vitamin Water, The Ritz-Carlton, Reebok, Taj Hotel, and the U.S. Census Bureau. I could go on and on naming all of the cool clients that we’ve been able to work with.
Together, my husband and I packaged and created this really exciting brand, powered by social media, crazy guerrilla marketing, and a great customer experience. That’s how we catapulted our brand from scratch, with just a little over a thousand dollars back in 2008. In 2014 we successfully sold the company.
When we were kids we didn’t really care what was in our popsicles as long as it was sweet, cold and colorful we were all in! We gathered our shiny quarters and headed as fast as we could in the direction of the ice cream truck music. Fast forward 10-20 years and we are forced to be more concerned with the fact that a patriot rocket popsicle has 1/3 electric blue but we can’t find an electric blue fruit anywhere on this planet.
People want more variety in their food and desserts as well as we now want to be able to pronounce all the ingredients in the food that we are eating and feeding our kids. If you are anything like my family we are major foodies, we want to take our taste buds on a wild goose chase but of course an adventure that ends in an amazing and pleasurable experience that we can’t wait to share with our friends and family.
This provides a huge opportunity for starting a healthy ice pop business. I like to say it’s about time the popsicle grew up! We started a business 5 years ago and have grown it into a very successful mini ice pop making empire. I get emails all the time asking for advice on how to start a popsicle making business. So this article will serve as a source for those wanting to get in the industry.
Despite the questionable ingredients in most popsicles its hard to imagine these treats going out of style. Enter the gourmet ice pop cart. No matter if you live in a big or small town you can find farmers markets or busy and lucrative locations to set up and sell your pops.
What you will need to start your ice pop business from home:
Popsicle molds: They usually come in 10-12 cavities per mold. Most people are buying the plastic ones from amazon.com. While they are okay for testing out you will quickly need to graduate to stainless steel molds.
Cart: If you can find a cold plate cart I promise it is worth the extra money you will shell out in the beginning. You can easily find a dry ice cart on craigslist during the ice cream off season. Dry ice carts mean you will have to purchase dry ice daily and often times you can’t capitalize on last minute events because of waiting on a delivery or having to make a daily trip to your local grocery store.
A place to produce your pops (Home, Commissary)
Churches and Day Cares are certified by the health department and with a little negotiation you can probably get them for free or a cheap weekly rate
Commercial Kitchen or Home Kitchen
3 compartment sink
Purchase bulk fruit vegetables and herbs
Location/High Traffic Exploration Sheet
popsicle sticks & Bags
City Occupational License
County Occupational License
General Liability Insurance
SafeServe Food Manager Certification
Chest Freezer (for your home)
Company Email address/Website
Supplies (Cup, Spoons, Napkins)
Event Fees Budget
Credit Card Processing (SquareUp)
Set Up Social Media Sites Twitter, Facebook Fanpage, Instagram, yelp.com and foursquare
Fanny pack :)
Starting a Popsicle Business
You will not have problems when it comes to selling pops, you can do street vending, catering, or focus on retail or on all 3. The very first thing which you need to pay attention to is the strategic plan because this will direct you on how you will operate in the popsicle industry. If you want to put a business plan together we have 2 available in our course manual
This can be a low cost business with less then $5,000 but can quickly exceed that if you are not careful and that is the main reason we started ice pop university to show people how to get into the business with a low budget or those that have capital and want to launch stores or buy franchise opportunities.
If you are ready to start with commercial equipment look to be around at around $10,000-$30,000 investment to start with commercial equipment
If you prefer to start-up with super low upstart cost, you have no choice but to make home-made popsicles. For you to make sure that you will have an outline and timeline of the entire business operation, drafting a strategic plan over a business plan is the best thing to do in my opinion. Research other big and small pop companies. Or sign up for a ice pop training class.
Licensing and permits are a big deal in this business. You may be able to skate by for a while but any big event that is going to make you some serious money is going to request insurance and your permits. Since the rules and regulations for any kind of business operation varies in every state, you need to check first in your locality if there would be inspections to be conducted at your home to secure that the place is safe for food production.
You also need to learn how to come up with different kinds of popsicle flavors. In short, you must know the step by step process that you need to incorporate in producing a delicious and healthy popsicle. If you will produce different flavors every week, your business will be very in demand. There are a lot of really good books and articles out now that can help you with recipes. Take them and add your own twist or local flavor to them. You will soon find that trial and error will be your best friend for coming up with flavors. You will also see that they unique flavors will draw customers in but most will still buy the safe flavors.
Catapulting your Popsicle Business
Since you are producing your popsicles at home, your target customers would be your neighbors, friends, family and co-workers first. After noticing that your business clicked with them and they are willing to pay you money, you have created your MVP (Minimal Viable Product) now you have tested the market, you can officially register your company.
To make sure that more people will know about your business, you also need to get the word out about your business. Social media is amazing for mobile businesses. If you are not social media savvy. Find a local high school student and pay them a few dollars a week.
Drafting a press release to send to your local media outlets and bloggers will be great in marketing as well.
Why Storytelling is important for ALL Pop Businesses
“The reason I think storytelling is the most underrated skill in business, is because it doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, and I don’t think people realize it’s happening when it’s happening, and most of all, I don’t think that many people are really good at it…”
-Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, Wine Library TV and Vaynermedia
I think storytelling is a great way to market your ice pop business. Especially since its still a fairly new industry trend its a great way to educate and excite your customers about your flavors, ingredients and why you started your business. It’s all about connection!!!! Some of the most powerful and longstanding ideas in our culture started their life as stories. Storytelling and the oral tradition have been around almost as long as humans have used spoken language. Stories are such a natural part of everyday communication that we often don’t notice their prevalence and power. Almost everyone, regardless of background or culture, has grown up with stories being the backbone of learning new ideas. It should come as no surprise that many of the most successful marketers in the business world have harnessed the power of story.
Storytelling in business is an effective force for allowing ideas to spread in a meaningful, authentic way.
How to Use Storytelling in your Business
Stories Have a Structure
While we encounter stories all the time, we often don’t think critically about what makes a story different from other types of messages. Here are the structural elements to consider:
1. Plot – A definite beginning, middle and end, and a progression through each stage. Instead of a static description of things, stories are moving, they take the reader on a journey. Where does a user of your product begin, physically and emotionally? Where do they end up?
2. Character – How are you engaging with your audience as the protagonist, and who (or what) are you up against? Can viewers of your story easily visualize themself as the hero of your story?
3. Drama – The struggle in a business story is in desire versus danger. How do you and your company desire to change the world? What are the dangers that threaten this desire?
4. An Idea – Your product or service is the idea, the secret weapon that’s going to allow you to win in the end. How will your product accomplish this?
Tell the Truth
Authenticity is an extremely important aspect of any marketing message. Savvy, connected consumers are very sensitive to being misled, now more so than ever before. Even if you are presenting a fictional or hypothetical scenario, you must resist the urge to overtly persuade with your story. A story that presents your product or service in a realistic way, and has a ring of truth to it will be far more compelling than any pure fiction. Audiences can easily tell when a story is based on truth, and gravitate towards truthfulness with their tastes. When I first started Feverish I was embarrassed to tell people that I came up with the idea for the company falling down chasing after an ice cream truck in heels. But now when I tell the story people have a instant connection to our story and it humanize Feverish.
Trim the Detail
Using the example of both Flipboard and Dropbox, keep your story short. Explainer videos in particular rarely need to be longer than 2 minutes in length, and are often more impactful when they are shorter. Stories in general suffer when they become too long; nobody likes having to listen to a story that’s overstayed its welcome. Look at every detail of your stories and make a frank assessment of whether that detail absolutely needs to be included. Work with a desire to tell your full story in the shortest way possible.
Make it Personal
Like Gary Vaynerchuk, make sure you engage with your audience and include them as part of the narrative. Stories are most impactful when we are able to involve ourselves as part of the drama. Remind your audience that you are taking a journey together, and use examples, like product demonstrations in explainer videos that allow the audience to easily visualize themselves using and benefitting from your product.
Give your Audience an Idea, Invite them to Dream
Steve Jobs’ presentations were often impactful because they left the viewers with an idea, a vision of the future that was made better by Apple’s groundbreaking products. This instilled a desire in the audience to help create this future by buying the product. End your stories with an idea, or vision, and make it general, don’t be too specific. Allow the audience to fill in some of the blanks by inserting their own desires into this vision, thus creating engagement. End your stories by showing the world of possibilities that your product or brand creates. This is the “happily ever after” idea. By creating this vision, you invite your audience to turn the story into a reality by engaging with your brand.
The recent rise of gourmet ice pops across the world has lead the way to cash strapped entrepreneurs being able to bring their dreams and creative frozen deliciousness on a stick market. Long gone are the days of the Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks roaming around neighborhoods and schools looking for customers. Within a short period this trend has created a craze and completely revolutionized an industry. By combining technology like Twitter, Instagram and geo tagging with unique menus, snazzy carts and trucks and not to mention thousands of loyal followers these PopPreneurs are kicking the recessions butt.
8 Business Lessons for Ice Pop Entrepreneurs
Desperate times call for creative measures so here are 8 unique lessons that can be learned from the creativity spawned from veterans in the Ice Pop industry.
1. Don’t ask for permission ask for forgiveness. You have to make bold moves to get what you want as an entrepreneur especially when it comes to reaching customers and creating sales. In New York, the food trucks aren’t granted special parking spots. If they want good locations with high traffic they park at meters and usually rack up hundreds of dollars worth of tickets each month and they just chalk it up as “rent”
2. Completely rock out an old tried and true industry. We all grew up chasing the ice cream truck and getting a bomb pop that turned our mouth crazy flavors and were more then likely really bad for us. Sometimes starting a business is not about creating the next big thing, sometimes its just about breathing life into an existing industry and making people fall in love with it all over again.
3. Keep it Simple- The ice pop carts don’t t have the luxury of tons of storage space so they can create limitless menu offerings. A successful cart will focus on providing a few key menu items and preparing those items really well. Instead of trying to have a one stop shop for everyone focus on making sure your core flavors and catering services are amazing. Always have clutch flavors on your menu! Meaning safe flavors like a plain chocolate or strawberry. The eclectic flavors will draw people in, but remember vanilla is still the top selling flavor in the world for a reason.
4. Get personal with your customers- Most brick and mortar frozen dessert shops aren’t happy when the ice pop cart/truck arrives on their block for fear of them taking customers away. However many ice pop business owner/operators have mastered injecting their personality into their business. What restaurant can you walk into on any given day where you can have a personal conversation with the Chef/Owner? Even as you begin to grow your business you must still show customers that you are accessible.
5. Go Directly to your customer- Take a break from the computer or step out of your office and figure out where your customers really are. Find ways to interject your brand into their lives in other ways. The ice pop business has the luxury of not waiting for their customers to come to them but going directly to their customers whether it be a street festival or showing up at their office for an employee appreciation party.
6. Adapt quickly to change- If a customer complains that a menu item sucks most ice pop business owners can easily erase it off of their chalk board revamp it immediately and keep on slinging pops without having to waste time and money replacing expensive printed menus. Find ways to make your business flexible and nimble without having to go through multiple chains of command in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
7. Stop using traditional marketing- The biggest push for the ice pop revolution was adapting technology. Instead of putting an ad in the paper, or buying radio time most Poppreneurs use Twitter religiously to keep their customers/followers informed about their location and because they move so often this has proven to be cost effective and shows them immediate ROI. Living in such a mobile society it is important to look for new ways to reach your customers and choosing the right marketing mix that works for your brand.
8. When the traffic slows down make a move- Most businesses don’t have the nimbleness to just start up the engine and move locations when traffic is slow like carts and food trucks can but considering opening a pop-up-shop in a different high traffic area location for your brick and mortar business or web based business.