Austin Gelato Company, LLC
A loan of $5,000 helps us roll out a marketing plan based on the new milk we are using from a local sustainably-designed micro-dairy.
As a newspaper advertising copywriter who lost her job during the Great Recession of 2008, my prospects for finding work were bleak due to my age (46), profession and state of the economy at the time. A year after my husband and I moved from Seattle to Austin to be closer to my aging parents, he too lost his corporate job. We knew we had to quickly reinvent ourselves without the safety net of a 9-5 job.
My husband came up with idea of starting a gelato business, but the excitement of starting our own company was tempered by the realities of learning that business from the ground up. We traveled to New York to learn how to make gelato and sorbetto from an Italian gelato master, Stefano Tarquinio of Rome’s renowned Al Settimo Gelo gelateria. We brought that knowledge back to Austin and poured all our savings and hopes into our start-up, Austin Gelato Company.
From the very beginning we were dedicated to doing business the right way, and not just financially. We purchased an expensive chiller for our water-cooled equipment that saves hundreds of gallons of water a week. We use all-natural and organic ingredients sourced close to Austin whenever possible, for optimum freshness and to support local farmers and producers. We now get the finest quality milk from Richardson Farms, a small family dairy an hour outside of Austin, our wildflower honey comes from Austin’s own Good Flow, and we continually search for local suppliers whenever possible.
We’re in 42 stores and restaurants now and are continually expanding. With help from Kiva, we will improve our marketing efforts, hire employees and pay them a good living wage. That’s our idea of success.
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
Austin Gelato Company is a packaged gelato and sorbetto producer (CPG) located in Austin, Texas. Our aim is to produce the smoothest, most flavorful gelato and sorbetto desserts using the cleanest, most natural recipes possible, using as many local products as possible, packaged for sale in grocery stores. Our company is somewhat of an experiment, seeking to find out if we could avoid all those non-food ingredients other companies use and still make a true, smooth, tasty packaged gelato. And, we have succeeded, building a steady stream of sales almost solely on a word-of-mouth basis.
A major breakthrough for us is the startup of Richardson Farms’ dairy in Rockdale, Texas, about 70 miles from our commercial kitchen. It is a sustainable operation, producing the freshest, richest, most nutritious and best tasting milk we could hope to find. We are now using their low-temperature pasteurized whole milk exclusively, and will be showing their logo on our labels. This is a major competitive advantage for us, and in the process, we will also be contributing to the success of a sustainable, humane, local farm.
What is the purpose of this loan?
We have been in business for over three years as a packaged gelato producer (CPG.) Until this recently we haven’t had access to commercial volumes of high quality milk. We put off developing a strong marketing plan as a result, relying on word-of-mouth for growth. Recently, Richardson Farms’ dairy, a local sustainable-designed farm, began producing a low-temperature pasteurized, non-homogenized milk. It is the richest, most nutritious and freshest milk we could possibly hope to get. So, we are now producing gelato of a quality that only a few gelaterias or ice cream makers can boast, using milk straight from the cows to our kitchen, literally within days of production. And, we can expand production dramatically, as they are producing much more than they can sell, being so new to the market. Our goal is to increase sales at the existing 43 stores that carry us locally as well as get in to new, larger stores in Houston and Dallas, total population about 18 million people. Our marketing plan will be provided free of charge as a team project by students of the Marketing Policy class at The University of Texas at Austin. We expect to spend about $1,500 on local public radio sponsorships, and the balance of $3,500 on new pint package design and purchase of packaging, point-of-purchase promotional materials, labor for in-person “demos” or tastings at our retailer’s locations, in-shelf display materials.
Years in operation: 3 years – 5 years