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KEO Homemade Ice Cream

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Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator

Company Description

Homemade premium vegan ice cream: - non-dairy, gluten and lactose-free, rich and creamy, using high quality ingredients. The ice cream is perfect for anyone with allergies to dairy, wheat, soy, have celiac disease or who are vegan and traditional ice cream eaters as well because it taste great. The company mission is to provide a wholesome and delicious treat that nourishes the mind, body and spirit, while respecting the environment and all living things.

Updates

I went to bed happy, I woke up happy! Now that my final presentation is over I feel a thousand pounds lighter. Can’t believe 12 weeks flew by but at the same time it feels though it has been a very long tough journey! That’s probably because I did so much and made great progress. I can’t help feeling extremely appreciative of my mentors. They are the backbone of all my accomplishments here. In the midst of all this I found that my time is the most valuable thing so for my mentors to volunteer their time, effort and support, it speaks VOLUME of them!!! And I find that very inspiring. I’m beyond humbled to be a part of all this. Sandbox is a great platform and this morning I felt every single letter in the term “accelerator” in my bone :) And how great is Sandbox staff! Lianna is so support with motherly demeanor and I may have gained a few pounds with all delicious food she fed us ;). Emil always makes us feel like celebrity flashing his camera all the time. And of course David and Raj are always ready to give advice, help think things through.

So now the hard work begins. Fulfilling customer orders, finding resources to put all the pieces together for a successful launch will probably be the most challenging milestone of my business. But everything seems so simple every time someone say “I’m lactose intolerant but thanks to you I can eat really tasty ice cream”, or “it’s one of the best ice cream I’ve ever had” and she doesn’t even have any food allergy.

Looking forward to the ceremony!

It was great to listen to Evan Shapiro of Meerkat Technologies and Bing Broderick and Kathe Mckenna of Haley House Café talked about their start-up days. They were clear and answered all questions right on. Learning about what worked and didn’t work for them will help me to become more aware and define my processes more clearly. The big take away for me was about managing employees. I need to take accountability for my future employees.  If I hire them I’m responsible to make sure they understand and do their job correctly and effectively. Set clear expectations are one of the main key. And hiring people who believes in my mission and values is essential to my company’s growth. And of course keeping hard records can save thousands of dollars down the road in unemployment funds. Document everything!

I have been so busy I did not even get a chance to start on my final pitch or pitch for Mass Innovation Foodie Night this Wednesday. I have got to put something together for Wednesday tomorrow night!!! But, I’m happy to say that I went from having no customers to four stores wanting to carry my product last week. How cool! I’m so thrilled! I plan to meet new potential customers every week. I already have four set up for this week. Keeping my fingers crossed. And, two accelerator goals down, one to go Smile

Just when I thought my business card is done, more editing is needed.

With only four weeks left, feeling the pressure of must get it all done!

It has been busy every week, but I’m starting to see progress. Happy to say that one goal is down, finalizing the second one, and third is next week target. I’m a walking zombie but it’s paying off! I met with a potential customer Friday and it well better than how I played it in my head days prior. The meeting went for about an hour and it was great to learn about them and their startup story. The grocery manager likes my product and would like to carry it, but final decision is on the owner who was not at the meeting. Though it’s looking positive, you never know with things like this. Even if it this store doesn’t work out for now I learned a few things that will help me with future meetings with other retailers. Hope to find out for sure this coming week.

Todd’s advice on Tuesday will help me to better prepare for the final pitch. From listening to him couched Brenna and Floyd, I learned about appropriate hand movements, facial expressions, tone, and to speak from the heart, focus on the passion and not memorizing scripts. Now I only need to find a way to get rid of my fear of speaking in public/to an audience.

It was interesting to hear Lydia and Josh talked about understanding and setting clear message about their product’s worth from the start and not to sell themselves short. Setting higher product value perception by emphasizing personal values/product source and how it connects with customers for customers buy-in. This info will go into the formulation of me finding a medium balance between making it affordable enough to get the product in stores and the value of this high quality product to end users.

With the program coming to an end next month, pressure is on to get goals accomplished. I’ve been running errands, making connections, phone calls, getting out doing physical research during the day and writing, strategizing, researching, etc. during the wee hours of the night. I’m determined and will do what it takes!

My first goal was to test market assumptions is completed, I think. I did a few taste test totaling about 200 people and the feedback is excitedly positive. I collected emails, received new likes on Facebook and new followers on Twitter, and passed out my business cards. My main concern was if people would like the texture of the ice cream and feedback says they love it! I will market first simple flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, coffee and chocolate bits, coconut chunks, ginger, green tea, strawberry and almond. New flavors will be rolled out as more people become aware of my product.

This lovely lady email me the other day and said this:

“It was great to meet you Sunday @ the Grasshopper and especially great to sample your delicious ice cream! Hope you were able to get a lot of good feedback. I usually buy the "So Delicious" brand of coconut milk ice cream....I like yours better!!! Can it be purchased anywhere yet? I wish you ALL THE BEST in starting up your business!!”

Below are two of the many feedbacks. For the bottom one I think the guy meant to say, how could anybody not like it? Smile

 

And I'm so excited I have my first paying gig on 2/24 at Samurai Express in Bay Back. The owner, Andy has two very profitable restaurants and if this event goes well we’ll do it on a regular bases.

 

 

My other goals are coming along, but sales model is a bit more challenging. I need to figure all cost and determine my selling price point. Learning so much!

 

This weekend focus will be on the pitch to the mentors on the 17th. Looking forward to it! Pradeep, my mentor, and I went to chat with Mimi of Toscanini’s in Cambridge. She said ice cream is not healthy, it’s a treat. This helped me to reword my marketing message clearer and omit a few things. Though my ice cream is vegan and alternative milk bases have great health benefits, it is still a sweet treats. So I shouldn’t be saying things that can come back to bite me. And after have listened to Raj talked, he pointed out and helped me realized that to be successful in the long term I must invest in making a quality product, educate my customers about it and market to those customers willing to pay at premium price vs. creating an affordable mediocre product that it can easily be substituted for. And to not put too much focus on the cost of adding my values such as support local businesses, buy organic and fair trade as these values will help me to sell the product and keep customers coming.

I will be feature at the Mass Innovation Crowd Funding Night on January 23 at the NERD center in Cambridge, so I’ll be working on creating a video as well this weekend. Hearing my own voice will be weird! I sound like a little mouse talking haha. Ciao, till next time Smile