Ice Cream For Bears
Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School
Industry: Food Manufacturer, CPG
Founding Student Name(s): Timothy Berg
Brief Description of Solution: Ice Cream For Bears is a premium ice cream brand that uses the simplest ingredients and sweetens only with raw honey.
Funding Dollars: $15,000
What led you to launch this venture? I grew up in a family that was very nutritionally conscious, but also loved eating ice cream. As I grew older, my nutritional views evolved and I began putting emphasis on eating the most unprocessed and ancestrally consistent foods possible. Raw honey exists at the point where my sweet tooth and nutritional values converge. Given my history with ice cream, it felt like the natural vessel for me to bring honey to as many people as possible.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? I’m most proud of the product. Formulating an ice cream that adhered to the nutritional values of my company while still competing with the best ice creams on the market was a tall task. However, I think we’ve done it, and I’m very excited with where the product is.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? WashU has helped in too many ways to name. The coursework is designed to allow students to take their ideas from idea to launch. I think that structure in a supportive and collaborative environment is incredibly valuable to any young entrepreneur. There are also seemingly endless opportunities for funding to help students start exploring their ideas—Holekamp Seed Fund, Summer Stipends, Skandalaris Pitch Competitions, etc.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My inspiration is probably due in part to my friend Cosmin. We went to college together and spent summers teaching tennis on Long Island. When we weren’t on the courts, it seemed we were always scheming up new business ideas—most ridiculous in hindsight. After college, we continued to dream while we sat discontentedly at the desks of our respective corporate jobs. Cosmin has never hesitated to pursue his own happiness, no matter how it will be perceived, and he has always pushed me to do the same. Eventually, he quit his job to launch a business he had been working on. Seeing him succeed gave me confidence and eventually I followed suit a couple of years later. I decided to go to business school and develop my idea for Ice Cream For Bears under the mentorship of WashU’s entrepreneurship department.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? The Hatchery is a really cool class at WashU. It’s a team-focused class designed to bring students’ ideas to the point where they are ready to launch. I was lucky to have an Ice Cream For Bears team in my second year, and we exhaustively explored a storefront-centric model. The takeaways from that semester pushed me toward the CPG-focused model Ice Cream For Bears has now.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Doug Villhard has seen Ice Cream For Bears from the beginning and has been an invaluable sounding board and mentor the whole way. I also can’t say enough about Program Manager Rian Edwards. People say business school is about the people you meet and the connections you make, and Rian Edwards has made countless invaluable connections for me. For any problem I’m facing or question I have with the business, she has been able to find an alum or community member who is willing to help me find the answer.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? A lot! The biggest example is probably the collaboration that Ice Cream For Bears has with Honeymoon Chocolates. Cam Loyet, cofounder of Honeymoon Chocolates, a honey-sweetened chocolate company, graduated from Olin a year before me. Honeymoon was my first customer when we put a dipping cabinet in their storefront. We started serving ice cream featuring some traditional flavors, and some used the amazing chocolate they source from around the world. Not only has this partnership helped bring some much-needed early exposure to Ice Cream For Bears, Cam has also been a great mentor who has shared so much invaluable knowledge and experience from his time in the CPG space.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? The goal of Ice Cream For Bears is to bring food back to the way nature intended for us to consume it. This means using simple, unprocessed ingredients and removing refined sugars from our food system and replacing them with raw honey—a sugar source that I believe is a true superfood. I would love to see Ice Cream For Bears available to everyone—in stores nationwide. More distantly, I’d love to see Ice Cream For Bears disrupt other food and sweets categories with its honey-centric mission.
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