Podcast #23 : Revolution Gelato Founder & CEO Jared Olkin speaks with Andrew D. Ive from Big Idea Ventures about building a dairy-free gelato empire.
ice cream, people, flavours, dairy, revolution, gelato, pies, pint, product, investor, chocolate, little bit, find, tastes, based, year, business, point, georgia, vanilla
Jared Olkin, Andrew D Ive
Andrew D Ive 00:00
Welcome to the Big Idea podcast where we’re focused on food. Today we’re going to be talking to the founder of Revolution Gelato, a plant based ice cream company, who often win awards when stacked up against dairy based ice cream companies. So really great company to talk with, I think you’ll find this incredibly interesting. Please do reach out to Revolution Gelato or Big Idea Ventures if anything kind of comes up as part of this discussion today. I’d love it if you could like and subscribe to today’s podcasts so we can let you know when we’ve got more for you. So thanks very much. Let’s get into the conversation. Hey, Jared, welcome to the Big Idea food podcast. How you doing?
Jared Olkin 00:49
I’m great. It’s great to see you again.
Andrew D Ive 00:53
So you’ve been travelling around the country, right? While you’re an entrepreneur building a great, plant based, food company decided to take it on the road with your laptop, right
Jared Olkin 01:04
It’s true. Yeah, well, actually not just my laptop, I’ve taken a mobile office with me if I could pull things around, I’d give you a give you a tour. But yeah, my partner and I decided, as she got laid off and we were already working remotely anyway, that we should go and see some of the country and figure out a way to go visit my grandmother in California while everything was going on. So that is how it started.
Andrew D Ive 01:33
I think this is amazing that you not only launched a great plant based food company that we loved enough to invest in, but somehow you’re managing to balance, you know, work life, and you know, do something great from a business perspective, but also, you know, follow your passion in terms of seeing the US.
Jared Olkin 01:54
Yeah, I mean, it’s actually been amazing. It’s funny, people say, you know, how’s your vacation going? I said, this is this is I’m, this is a work trip. But, but it is true and I actually found, you know, especially when we got to the southwest and started going to national parks on the weekend. It’s so much more restorative than what I was doing when I was in the city. Getting out into nature, unplugging even for a day just makes a huge difference.
Andrew D Ive 02:23
So why don’t we talk a little bit about the company, you guys are building. Great plant based food company. Obviously, there’s a mission aspect to this as well. Why don’t you give us a little bit of background on Revolution Gelato.
Jared Olkin 02:40
Sure. So the simple story is, I personally grew up eating full fat dairy ice cream, my mom had a homemade ice cream store, it was fabulous. We were having hot fudge sundaes every day and that was my childhood. So I just absolutely fell in love with really incredible ice cream. And then when I personally started moving toward a plant based diet, tasted everything that was on the market, it all was not very good. So I started making it.
Jared Olkin 03:10
And I just got completely obsessed, and saw that there was a real opportunity, not just in the market to go out and build a company to do this but also to make a difference that it was something that was really needed that would both improve people’s lives and enjoyment of their lives, as well as make a positive impact on the world. So that was kind of the inspiration for it and then in 2015, I first took it to market in Atlanta starting in small places, and we kind of grew through then made a lot of mistakes, lots of things that worked out and that all paths eventually led to Big Idea Ventures and a big shift and we’re just incredibly excited for what 2021 holds.
Andrew D Ive 03:54
So you know, many people are probably thinking, Okay, the products out there in a particular category don’t do what they’re supposed to this, you know, this plant based product x for whatever it is, isn’t that great? Not everybody goes out and tries to figure out a solution. How did you? Well, a Why did you tackle it? Why did you think you could tackle it? And how did you sort of go through that iteration process? And maybe point C or three or whatever you want to call it? How do you think you stumbled across the solution.
Jared Olkin 04:32
So it’s a really interesting space because I think plant based in general is still so young from a product development perspective and just an understanding of how it all works. So that the parallel that I give is Dairy Science they have over 100 years of funding and practice figuring out exactly how dairy works and they’re still learning things. Plant based you’ve got hundreds if not 1000s of different potential sources and maybe 30 years of serious research
Andrew D Ive 05:06
if that by sources you mean ingredients
Jared Olkin 05:08
Yeah ingredients of possible usage, things that you can use dairies. Dairy, right. And so you know when I first started I, one of the reasons I knew that I had a good shot of doing it is I knew what the end product was supposed to be like, I knew what really good ice cream tastes like, and feels like and I knew what made that good. And so I started doing research first I started with what makes good dairy tastes like good dairy.
Jared Olkin 05:36
And then I started looking at, well, what is everybody else doing? What are the current approaches, let me try those and see where they are and I started to just take notes of what was working what was promising or not. At the start, it was a lot of just trial and error and even now, you know, I would say it’s still informed trial and error. You know, I’ve learned a lot through this time and just devoured a tonne of food science research, which continues to improve but at the end of the day, there’s still just many unknowns and you got to kind of just try it and see what works.
Andrew D Ive 06:12
So your mom’s homemade ice cream store. She was literally creating ice cream every day or every few days for the store right?
Jared Olkin 06:20
Every day yeah…
Andrew D Ive 06:22
And so what does make great ice cream. As a person that loves Revolution Gelato, I’ve never really unpacked why it tastes so good but what is real not real ice cream because I don’t think you can call it real or unreal, but what is really good ice cream all about, why do we love it so much.
Jared Olkin 06:41
So it what’s interesting is my attitude toward this has shifted over the last 10 years. If you asked me when I started this, I would have said the first thing that’s most important is a high butterfat content. And the second thing is having really good quality ingredients that make it flavorful. But the common thread among all ice creams that that we love is that it’s creamy, and it’s sweet, and the flavour is good, and really it’s those three things and it’s getting that sweetness in the right balance that’s across it all.
Jared Olkin 07:13
But what really makes it kind of quintessential ice cream is that it’s creamy and smooth, and that you get that good flavour profile. Now obviously people have different preferences on flavours. You know, some people want a really dark chocolate, some people want a milky chocolate, so that’ll be all over the board, but you want it to be whatever it’s supposed to be. But I think the biggest differentiator, especially in the plant based space, is that creaminess.
Andrew D Ive 07:41
And so in terms of that trial and error you mentioned, what are some of the things you tried that you thought were going to work that didn’t? And then what what did you ultimately end up going with and why?
Jared Olkin 07:55
I’m trying to remember now what I tried, it didn’t work. Or I guess I should say what I thought would work. I mean coconut milk is a good example where as soon as I heard Oh, people are making this with coconut milk. Of course that makes perfect sense. It’s a nice creamy, fatty, you know thing, and it’s good, but it’s not great. It’s not enough on its own to get to a good result is what I found.
Jared Olkin 08:19
So the coconut milk gets you maybe 70% of the way there 80% of the way there but on its own, it’s not enough. And I think that my approach is that I think in the plant based you know, we’ll call it substitute world. Diversity is a strength. So pulling a diverse array of sources. Each of them can contribute a little bit of something unique to the final product.
Andrew D Ive 08:46
Okay, and how did you ultimately stumble across the ingredients? That Revolution Gelato is based upon?
Jared Olkin 08:54
So currently, and I say currently, because who knows what will be based upon in the future, I view us as a brand that’s going to continue to innovate and I think we’ve got an incredible product out there that stands up to any top tier dairy, but I think there’s always room for improvement, whether it’s in taste, price, nutrition, etc. So we’ll keep evaluating and yeah, exactly revolutionising the face. But where we are now is it’s a cashew and coconut base, and it’s a blend of those that we use and that makes a big difference.
Andrew D Ive 09:30
Now, you guys have made some great ice cream. How long has the business been going now.
Jared Olkin 09:37
The business has been on the market for six years now. or five and a half years.
Andrew D Ive 09:41
Six years. You guys have competed head to head with some of the best dairy ice cream right?
Jared Olkin 09:48
Yeah, I mean, that was where you know, I always felt like it was good but I’m biassed, obviously and so you know one of the first pieces of really wrong external validation we got was we competed. There was a competition in Georgia called the flavour of Georgia competition, they run it every year. And so we you know, they have 10 or so categories, and we submitted in the category we felt closest to … dairy. So we submitted our gelato and in that category were dairy butters and cheeses and ice creams and all these other things. And I remember we, that first year, we were selected as a finalist.
Jared Olkin 10:30
I was like, Oh, my God, this is incredible and then we won. And, you know, this independent panel of judges in Georgia, which, again, is not necessarily the most plant forward state, said yeah, this is great. This is the best dairy product that we’ve had in Georgia this year. And we did it again the next year, with a different product. And so that was where we first knew that it’s not just us, this really stands on its own,
Andrew D Ive 10:56
Even though you won in a category for dairy when you’re not dairy.
Jared Olkin 11:02
That’s right. It made people very upset. So they actually changed the rules after that. I have to imagine there was an agricultural push back. So now if you go look at it, you can’t enter the dairy category if you’re a non dairy product.
Andrew D Ive 11:18
So it doesn’t say you can’t enter the dairy category if you’re Revolution Gelato. They’ve been a bit broader than that.
Jared Olkin 11:25
Andrew D Ive 11:27
Now, in all seriousness, Georgia is home for Revolution Gelato, right?
Jared Olkin 11:32
Andrew D Ive 11:33
So proudly building the business, creating the products in Georgia. Atlanta is the centre of it all, or whereabouts are you in Georgia?
Jared Olkin 11:43
Yeah our headquartered are in Atlanta. I mean, at this point, a lot of our operations and our team is kind of decentralised but that’s still where we call home.
Andrew D Ive 11:56
Got it. So tell us a little bit about the last 12 months. Where do people find you? You know, where are you pushing this out, so that you can get in as many mouths as possible.
Jared Olkin 12:12
So the last 12 months, needless to say, have been interesting. I think it maybe a week ago, last year, that executive order was issued in New York, shutting down businesses. For us, we actually really spent most of the better part of last year focused inward. It was one of the things that came out of our time in the accelerator that we had, as we’ve talked about this incredible product that people love, that we’ve seen growth and yet we hadn’t been growing the way that we felt like we should be given that.
Jared Olkin 12:47
And so it was a time to look inward and say, how do we address these obstacles that have been holding us back and that was where we focused this past year and it was really on, in a sense, doing a complete relaunch of our brand. So we reformulated our products, something that I had had in the works for a while but hadn’t pushed across the finish line.
Jared Olkin 13:09
So we kind of came out with our version 2.0. and finished that process. We updated our brand to reflect some of these changes, expanded the team to help deliver, raised a little bit of capital to undergo all of the stuff. We came out with a brand new product line our mini pies. So this is a first to market, novelty plant based mini gelato pies, and they are incredible.
Andrew D Ive 13:39
These are the gorilla pies?
Jared Olkin 13:40
They were originally, we toyed with calling them gorilla pies, we decided to go with something a little bit more classic and just call them mini pies.
Andrew D Ive 13:49
You dropped the gorilla?
Jared Olkin 13:50
Andrew D Ive 13:54
They are animal free I guess ….
Jared Olkin 13:59
Those also won an award. So those won an award the followinf year, for Best New Dessert in October.
Andrew D Ive 14:06
Not best dairy then?
Jared Olkin 14:08
No, best new dessert. So dairy was included. You know, there were other dairy competitors in there as well. And while we’re on the subject, because I’ll keep bragging, our new or revised chocolate formulation we submitted to the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. Every year they run an evaluation where people can submit products from all over the country, and they have trained dairy scientists evaluated against this 43 point rubric based on the standards of identity for ice cream.
Jared Olkin 14:43
We qualified with the third highest tier white ribbon. And even on the evaluation form, it said 10% milk fat, was one of the things that was included in there. So, you know to me that was a huge honour that our non dairy formulation was blindly evaluated by experts and said, yeah, this stacks up to, you know, the top quality dairy.
Andrew D Ive 15:10
So, in the last 12 months, you guys kind of stopped, took a look inside of the business and said, Okay, there are things we need to change. That’s actually phenomenal that you took the time to do that. But until that point, what have been some of the kind of key challenges for the business over the last five to six years, once you had launched the product, once you’d got started?
Jared Olkin 15:41
There were two big problems. One, I did not raise enough money to launch a CPG business. I came in, and I was trying to do a fast growing startup, and I had the money for organic growth and I didn’t know what I was doing on that side. The second thing is I didn’t have the right team around me. Again, it was just me, basically and I brought my sister into help with some of the operational sides of things but again, I didn’t have anyone on my side who really knew how to grow a CPG business, how to do the sales, how to do the marketing and so that really held us back.
Jared Olkin 16:20
That was basically a constant for the first five years, where I kept trying to push ahead and saying, well, you know, when we get to that next milestone, then we’ll go raise money, but I didn’t know where to go raise money from. I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know, I didn’t have the network. I didn’t have the people. And so that was a big sticking point.
Andrew D Ive 16:41
So, from your point of view, what are the signs that a founder needs. Either a co founder or other members to join the team? Because obviously, in the startup world, we all think about bootstrapping, and trying to make do with what we’ve got and that sort of thing. How did you know that it was time to add to the team and start building?
Jared Olkin 17:05
I don’t think I knew early enough. If I were doing it all over again, I probably would have done it six months to a year in. Basically, we were on our own to your point bootstrapping, you know, landed in 25 doors within the first six months- We had gotten a commitment from whole foods to open us up and that was the time where we should have said, Okay, we’ve got some traction here, Let’s go raise some money and take this to that next step.
Jared Olkin 17:33
And that was a way I hadn’t really thought about it of how much do I need to get to that next milestone of proof that this is working. And I just really, I think I was a little overconfident and felt like some of the rules didn’t apply. And I and I think that that it was just yeah, it was a mistake.
Andrew D Ive 17:56
Now one of the great things about plant based category is there’s a lot of people who care about it, they want to see it succeed. There are you know, there are investors, there are companies, etc, all of whom are sort of seeing where consumers are going on the plant based side and really want to make sure that ultimately we build great companies that deliver on where consumers want us to be. How did you find the financial community? How did you find the investor community? Did you eventually find it easy to find those people who care about your business and helping you to succeed?
Jared Olkin 18:34
Eventually. A lot of it came post B IV, you know, by coming through the accelerator, which was part of the reason I I joined because I knew that I wanted access and resources and help on that side of things. So you know, coming out of the IV, we ended up doing a small convertible round through the glass wall syndicate, which is a network of plant based investors, angel investors and early stage funds from around the world.
Jared Olkin 19:10
And so you know, it was great, because there were people who were really mission aligned, who understood. I didn’t have to explain, everybody gets it and they believe in it, you know, and I think that’s really important. So, we’re still always looking to expand our investor network and have more people to talk to. Just because we’ve worked with them, there’s still plenty more need.
Jared Olkin 19:40
But yeah, I think in general, I’ve also found investors to be helpful and supportive and you get good feedback from them, at least from the ones that I’ve met. I’m sure there’s some bad apples out there but I think sometimes there’s maybe a little bit of a bad rap of this contrary in nature in this town. Tension between investors and founders and I think a lot of that’s probably misplaced.
Andrew D Ive 20:05
Yeah. So in terms of you should have identified that you needed to raise more money earlier, you mentioned building a team, you should have probably figured that out maybe six to 12 months before you did, I wonder if it’s occurred to you that some of the things you’re doing right now may either be things that you know, in the next 12 months I wonder sorry, let me let me put this in a slightly different way.
Andrew D Ive 20:34
I wonder if there are things in the next 12 months that you should be starting now which may be you haven’t and I know that’s a tough one right? But I wonder if in 12 months time you wish oh my goodness If only I’d have you know, started this particular thing or approached the business in this particular way 12 months ago, do you think everything’s going as it should be right now? Do you think there are things that maybe you should be taking stock of?
Jared Olkin 21:01
That is a very tough question,
Andrew D Ive 21:02
That ieally tis a tough one for sure. There was a cohesive question in there to be honest with you but ….
Jared Olkin 21:08
It’s basically I think, what they call a post mortem, which is like suppose things go wrong? No, no,
Andrew D Ive 21:16
No, no what I mean is is learning from the last 12 months 24 months where you’re like, I should have done this earlier. Do you think there might be some things that you should be starting now?
Jared Olkin 21:32
That’s hard to answer, you know, if I knew I’d hopefully be doing it doing it right. I know there’s there’s at least one thing that I know of that I’ve kind of pushed to the backburner because I’ve just got so much other stuff going on. One of the things I’ve been looking to do is expand my advisory board. So this past year, I brought on two members to the advisory board. Cheryl Newman, who was the former deputy chief of mission at Honesty and has invested in and advised and worked with a number of other startups. And then John Mills joined earlier this year and he’s founded and worked with early stage CPG companies in frozen and in frozen desserts, and has been a fantastic resource.
Jared Olkin 22:27
So you know, every time I bring someone on to the advisory board who really believes in me, believes in the company and is committed and wants to help, it just really helps change my trajectory and helps me think through tough to squish decisions, answer questions like you’ve just asked me and help take that big perspective when I can get lost in the day to day and all of the million things that are going on. I’m looking to flesh that out, but I have not been actively pursuing that right now.
Andrew D Ive 23:02
Okay, so you’ve got two great advisory board members who have recently joined. So you have three great advisors, two have recently joined. I’m guessing money will continue to be something you need to focus on every few months. In terms of raising more money, expanding your investor network, especially as you grow your distribution.
Andrew D Ive 23:24
I know that you’ve got a sales team out there actively engaging with grocery and convenience as wel,l given the mini pie. What are the channels, apart from grocery and convenience,or are those the two key ways you’re getting the product to people?
Jared Olkin 23:42
Those are the two biggest and I would say convenience is still a little bit on hold. So much has been delayed because of COVID and a lot of buyers have pushed back or the category reviews are delaying decisions. For example, we were going to be entering one of the paths into convenience through college campuses which have been closed, so some of that’s been delayed but that’s still on the docket.
Jared Olkin 24:11
The other area that we’ve started to enter into more of is ecommerce both direct through our own website as well as through other platforms. That’s an area that’s not a huge part of our business right now, but I see that growing a lot especially as consumer behaviour has shifted so much. Then food service is still also a piece that again has kind of quieted down during COVID but has started to pick back up. We actually have an account that we’re nearing a close on a deal with them for that, and it would be a sizable account, a really well fitted partner. So I don’t want to share any more details until it’s locked in, but but I’m feeling pretty good about it.
Andrew D Ive 25:01
One of the challenges with direct to consumer that I’ve seen is, the cost of shipping needs to be defrayed across, you know, the product that’s being sold. So sending one pint of ice cream just doesn’t make economic sense. Because the cost of the unit plus the cost of shipping makes it unreachable from a price point perspective. How are you overcoming that? Are you going for larger quantities of, for example, your mini pies? Is it possible to come on your website and buy eight or 10 or 12? Or a larger number? at a time?
Jared Olkin 25:38
Yeah, so you’re right, it is a challenge, I think, for anyone, and especially for perishables, and especially for ice cream, which has kind of zero tolerance for temperature fluctuation? But, you know, we figured out how to ship it well and your question about cost is the big one. And so what we used to have was just an all inclusive pricing and set sizes, so you would come onto our website and order a four pack or a six pack or an eight pack and it was a set price. What we just did with our new website is I really looked at how we might price it, I looked at what other people were doing to get some ideas as well.
Jared Olkin 26:21
You see a mix across the board, you see people offering all in pricing like we were, you see people offering flat rate pricing, and what we did is we went with kind of a blend where we built in a little bit of extra margin into the unit price and we offered flat rate shipping. But if you order a sufficient quantity, free shipping, and then we also have a minimum, so you have to order at least four units. But above that, you can order however much you want and so far the economics of that have worked out well for us. And I think also to your point, like it makes it obvious for the consumer too. If you’re going to order one we probably could even allow it if you order one pint but it’s a $25 flat rate shipping that’s going to be very expensive.
Andrew D Ive 27:13
Yeah, and are people kind of opting in? are you finding that people are using this new system and it’s slowly growing the business?
Jared Olkin 27:26
We’ll have to see because we only launched it a week and a half ago. But orders are up within that week and a half and I don’t know if that’s just because we put out an announcement about it or if it’s a change in behaviour so we shall see.
Andrew D Ive 27:38
And you’re giving people the opportunity of having, for example, a subscription or I know that for SIG Matic and even Amazon and others have the ability for people to sort of get a regular shipment if they like something in particular.
Jared Olkin 27:52
We don’t have that yet but I think that’s potentially on the horizon.
Andrew D Ive 27:57
The other thing that I wondered about is, if you’re shipping ice cream, as you said there’s no tolerance for fluctuations in temperature, are you sending these products in 100 bucks worth of foam you know, foam containers that aren’t necessarily the best thing to be putting into landfills and so on? How are you solving that? Following the mission aspect of your business means that you should be thoughtful of the packaging and the ways of getting these products to people.
Jared Olkin 28:34
So we get our insulated containers from a local provider in Georgia and theyn are eco friendly containers. So the installation is basically a fibre that just biodegrades in the landfill, and it has a biodegradable plastic coating on it. They can either go to the landfill and will biodegrade or they can go in with the plastic bag recycling if you drop that off at the grocery store.
Andrew D Ive 29:04
I’m really glad you said that. I shouldn’t have asked the question without knowing the answer but I’m really glad you thought of it and I know you would have done because that’s just who you are as person. So I really appreciate that you guys went through this cycle to figure that out. Thank you. And I know people listening will care about that as well. So thanks. Thanks a lot. Let’s just give people, while we’re talking about your website, the ability for someone who’s listening, to go and check it out. Where do people go if they want to order or check out the product?
Jared Olkin 29:35
It’s very easy. It’s www.revolutiongelato.com I’m imagining there’s gonna be a little thing here at the bottom regular add that in post.
Andrew D Ive 29:50
I don’t know man. I don’t know if it’s necessary. You just spoke really slowly and clearly. I think people probably got it. So revolution gelato.com and the reason it’s called gelato is not because it’s ice and doesn’t taste creamy and amazing, like regular ice cream. It’s because those pesky FDA people won’t allow you to call a non dairy based ice cream and ice cream, right?
Jared Olkin 30:15
Well, it’s funny this is where you and I have a different take or I just think that you’ve only ever had crappy gelato because all of the gelato I ever ate was really creamy and delicious, but both are true. So on the one hand, yeah, there’s the legal regulations around it, where the FDA has a standard of identity for ice cream that, it in order to call any product ice cream, it has to have at least 10% milk fat. But also, our product does adhere a little bit more to a traditional Italian gelato style, in that it’s a little bit lower in fat, it doesn’t have as much air whipped into it like traditional American ice creams, and is best served at a little bit of a warmer temperature. So you’ll still get all that creaminess that you like from any good frozen dessert but But that’s how we ended up calling it gelato.
Andrew D Ive 31:16
Now about three to four years ago, there was this range of ice creams that were either focused on less fat, so there was a certain amount of calories, certain amount of fat per pint. We also saw higher protein content, ice creams, my understanding of those ice creams that had lower fat, lower calories was that they basically whipped more air into the product. So it was lower calorie, lower fat because you were just getting less product. Is that fair to say? Or am I just misinformed?
Jared Olkin 31:52
No, that’s fair to say that if you want to cut calories, the simplest way to do it is to cut the amount of product that you’re actually giving. So yeah, all of those low calorie products had the industry term of overrun and the air that gets added can be as much as half of the pint.
Andrew D Ive 32:14
So you’re basically paying for a pint, but you’re getting half a pint and a half pint of air.
Jared Olkin 32:18
Yeah, that’s right.
Andrew D Ive 32:20
That’s like putting ice cubes into your Coca Cola products. In the movie theatre, you know, you get three quarters of a thing of ice and a little bit of coke right down in the bottom there.
Jared Olkin 32:33
Andrew D Ive 32:36
So what’s next for you and Revolution Gelato? You’re obviously still travelling around the country, I’m not sure if ever, if you’re ever going to stop, maybe you’re just going to be the wandering ice cream salesperson for the rest of your life. But what is next for you and revolution?
Jared Olkin 32:55
The biggest thing right now is we are actually looking to raise additional capital. We spent this last year, kind of building out our new formulation, our team or we redid our packaging, redid our brand, redid our website, have the new product line, and now we’re growing. So we’re looking to go raise some additional growth capital to support that and then we’re really looking to just expand our footprint. So that’s what we expect to see over the next 18 months, some of that landing this year, and some of that landing next year, expanding up and down the East Coast and as well as into the southwest and even up to the west.
Andrew D Ive 33:42
What do the ideal investors look like from your point of view? Obviously this is not an invite for people to invest. But if they iwant to invest, they should reach out to you at Revolution Gelato, but do you have an ideal investor?
Jared Olkin 33:59
So I would say the ideal investor is somebody who doesn’t just bring capital but also brings experience and becomes a trusted partner. I think whether that’s an angel or an early stage Fund, those are the two areas where we’re targeting right now. But people who, whether it’s relationships, whether they’ve founded companies or worked in early stage companies, you know, being able to bring experience and relationships beyond just the capital is always great.
Jared Olkin 34:33
And I’m someone who really welcomes the input. You know, I don’t mind an investor who wants to know and be involved but I think the most important thing ultimately is that I want people who are aligned, who really believe in what we’re doing that’s really the bottom line of it.
Andrew D Ive 34:56
Yeah, absolutely and right now you are focused on ice cream. You’ve got the mini pies which are kind of a handheld symbol use product , are you looking at other formats so you for example looking at width for like QSR and restaurant and that sort of thing or is that maybe on the horizon at some point but not not anytime soon
Jared Olkin 35:23
Yeah I’d say it’s on the horizon. I think we’ve got enough in it you know. You talked about mistakes and one I made earlier, it was just too many line extensions before we already had a successful growing line you know. I was trying to do everything for everyone and I think, right now, the name of our game is just being more focused and we’ve got a great line out of pints and pies plenty enough to fill a retailer shelf, plenty enough to support some food service.
Jared Olkin 35:50
We do the bulk as well for some food service but so I think it’s really seeing these start to take off and we’ve got plenty of ideas in the pipeline for additional line extensions both in the novelty format and in flavours and in you know, food service options so I think there’s no shortage of what could come down the line as we continue to grow.
Andrew D Ive 36:16
And your partner, you called her I believe, but I think she’s a fiance is she not?
Jared Olkin 36:22
Andrew D Ive 36:23
Jared Olkin 36:25
Andrew D Ive 36:26
Does she have a favourite flavour?
Jared Olkin 36:30
Yeah She loves our mint chef, which is one of the new flavours we came out with during this refresh. She said before she met me she didn’t even like mint. So so I think that’s, that’s her favourite right now, but she she likes them all.
Andrew D Ive 36:48
And how about you, do you have a personal Revolution Gelato favourite? or are they all your children so it’s tough to say?
Jared Olkin 36:57
I would say yeah, it is hard to say. If you had asked me before, I would have said chocolate every day but I find myself skewing more and more to our vanilla and our mid ship.
Andrew D Ive 37:13
Your fiance’s rubbing off on you that’s what’s there. What is it Cardamom that you have as well?
Jared Olkin 37:20
We actually discontinued that.
Andrew D Ive 37:22
Okay. I remember you telling me that some people absolutely adored it and other people just really didn’t like it at all. So you didn’t want something that was so polarising?
Jared Olkin 37:31
We had two flavours that we decided to discontinue in this refresh. The Cardamom was one and the orange cream was another. Both great flavours and orange was great. People loved them but for simplicity and focus, we looked a what was moving the most and what people were asking for and decided to deliver more of that. So that was how we made that decision.
Andrew D Ive 37:57
So take us through the flavours just so people can get really hungry while they’re listening to you talk.
Jared Olkin 38:02
Sure so we’ve got our full throttle vanilla, we call it that because it is not bland or simple. After you taste it you think, so this is what vanilla actually tastes like I didn’t know that before. And for that we use a blend of Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla so you get this really nice, rich vanilla flavour. Our dark chocolate which uses a blend of chocolate and cocoa and a lot of it so it’s this really nice, rich creamy chocolate flavour that has character to it. So I always say that’s one where like fine wine, let it breathe a little bit and the flavour just comes out.
Jared Olkin 38:53
We’ve got our French press coffee, which is absolutely fabulous. We get these wonderful coffee beans that goes from It’s a family farm from for the buyer that we get it from so it goes from the mother in Nicaragua to the daughter and her husband in Atlanta to us, and we get beans green, we have them roasted locally, right before we make our own in house cold brew, and it’s just fabulous. And then we’ve got our majestic mango, which was already a wonderful intense alfonzo mango flavour before but in our new formulation, we upped the mango quantity so before it was over 40% of the pint and now it’s over 50% of the pint and it’s just like eating a fresh mango.
Andrew D Ive 39:43
And then you’re going to tell me about the mint chocolate chip.
Jared Olkin 39:46
That’s right, which was one we’ve been working on for a long time and the challenge was finding the right chip. The mid part was easy. It was finding the right chip because we needed something that was organic. I don’t think I mentioned that our entire line of pints is all certified organic There was organic that was vegan, and that tasted good and you can’t just take chocolate and put it into ice cream. People do that, but then what you get is chips that are hard and waxy and flavourless because chocolate the temperature doesn’t work right so you need something that’s designed to be consumed frozen and we finally found one chip that’s delicious It’s a nice dark chocolate chip that’s designed for ice cream that melts right and we just loaded up with them
Andrew D Ive 40:31
Did you find that in Atlanta?
Jared Olkin 40:35
No, we get that from a supplier in New Jersey actually.
Andrew D Ive 40:39
New Jersey for the win. Yeah, that’s where my home is so you know I got to support the local guy.
Jared Olkin 40:47
I’m sure that chocolates coming from Europe but …
Andrew D Ive 40:51
Come on. We could have just left it at New Jersey, we were proud to take that for the win. Okay, so those are the only flavours right now apart from the mini pie.
Jared Olkin 40:59
Those are the only flavours. Yep.
Andrew D Ive 41:05
And the mini pie. Take us through what that is in particular. So it’s what kind of ice cream what kind of outside etc.
Jared Olkin 41:14
So we’ve got four flavours of these mini pies and basically the construction is we’ve got a crust which is this kind of chocolate cookie crust. That over time it softens from the gelato in the same way it does when you eat an old school Ice Cream Sandwich.Those wafers start out crisp, and then they soften. It doesn’t get to that sticky stage but it’s kind of a soft, chewy crust with a little bit of bite to it, filled with our gelato. There is a vanilla, chocolate, mint and coffee.
Andrew D Ive 41:49
So the Madagascan vanilla and the Tahitian Madagascan vanilla that you told us about, is the kind of basis at the Venetian of the vanilla.
Jared Olkin 41:58
Exactly. Got it. Exactly. And then, for the topping, we have this rich chocolate, like crispy chocolate shell that goes over top. So we take each of the pies and we dip them in this molten chocolate that forms that crisp shell over the top. So you get this nice variety of textures from the crunchy chocolate, the creamy gelato and that kind of soft cookie base, and, you know, chocolate is always a good thing and it pairs with everything. So he said, you know, we’ll give them all the same treatment.
Andrew D Ive 42:29
Now, this is something you invented, right?
Jared Olkin 42:32
Yeah, this just evolved. It started with a conversation with a buyer at Whole Foods, actually, on their food service side, who was looking to do some innovative stuff in the gelato bar. I had been toying around with the idea of doing some pies, and brought him a sampling. He said, This is awesome. Can we get some and that’s how it started.
Jared Olkin 42:56
And so at first, we were making these crusts by hand which was terrible. I mean, they tasted great, but hugely manual process but it was just about the concept. And then we started looking around and actually, again, through Big Idea Ventures, had help finding a supplier who could give us what we needed and the shape shifted a little bit, but it ended up with what we just put out on the market.
Andrew D Ive 43:21
So where can people buy these pints and pies? Apart from coming to www.revolutiongelato.com? Where can people buy these pints and pies?
Jared Olkin 43:32
So Well, I’ll first say that at the same website, there’s a store locator. So you can open that up, and it’ll show you what’s nearby but broadly speaking, you can find us at Whole Foods throughout the southeast and in Florida. In the Mid Atlantic, you can find us at Mom’s Organic Market. And then there’s a bunch of independent, you know, natural foods and some foodservice places beyond that, that carry us.
Andrew D Ive 44:05
So this all started with your mom, you just mentioned mom’s supermarket. How does she feel about where you’ve taken the company and the pies? Is she a big fan?
Jared Olkin 44:17
She loves them. When we were doing our first test runs, and we were just doing it to make sure that everything was working, right. We were just packaging it, you know, to put it somewhere, but we didn’t have live packaging. We knew that it wasn’t going to go out on the market. She kept asking for more of these of these samples, and she was giving them out to everyone in her building. And yeah, she she loves them. She couldn’t be prouder.
Andrew D Ive 44:40
Fantastic. So I’m sure I have many, many more questions, but this is, you know, the end of our time together today. If anyone has any questions for you, Jared if people want to reach out about either Revolution Gelato, either for comments, suggestions if supermarkets or other buyers are interested in what you guys are doing, what’s a good place for them to hit you up and get involved? Same way from an investor perspective, if there are folks who want to get involved in the revolution, where should they, how should they connect with you?
Jared Olkin 45:23
Easiest way is just shoot me an email. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. If you forget all that, we’ve got a contact form on our website, you can also reach me on LinkedIn, any of those methods or just pester Andrew …..
Andrew D Ive 45:46
Yeah, you know, just harass me. This will be out on YouTube. We’ll also put it on iTunes and various other places. So underneath the podcast, there should be notes where you can hook up with Jared. You can find out about Revolution Gelato, you can see his social media presence so that you can engage via those platforms as well. You’re on LinkedIn, right?
Jared Olkin 46:10
Yep. Across all social media, we’re @revgelato
Andrew D Ive 46:16
@revgelato You couldn’t afford the full revolution gelato?
Jared Olkin 46:20
It was one character too long.
Andrew D Ive 46:22
Dude. Alright, so if people want to reach out to you via LinkedIn, it’s Jared Olkin and we’ll put this in the notes below as well so that people can find you one way or another.
Andrew D Ive 46:38
Now that you just given me something fantastic to do this weekend. You may not realise it, but my wife and I, because of the snow and cold in New Jersey, we moved briefly down to Miami, Florida. And you just told me that your Revolution Gelato is in Florida. So now I’m going to go to your website, revolutiongelato.com. and I’m going to look at the store locator and see if there’s anything within, I think I would be prepared to drive 40 miles for a pint of your ice cream, so if I can find anything in a 40 mile radius, my weekend is going to be sitting in front of a TV eating the best plant based ice cream on the planet.
Jared Olkin 47:27
I’m just imagining at an auction, can I get 40 miles? Who’s gonna drive 60 miles? 80 miles? I think I think you’ll find it much closer than 40 miles.
Andrew D Ive 47:36
Let’s hope so but I want to try those pies man, you keep sending me pictures but it’s not the same thing pictures just don’t deliver.
Jared Olkin 47:44
Well, you know, your partner Mike Barrow has ordered our pies already a couple of times through our website, I think. Yeah, the pies have not hit too many shelves yet. We’re still in kind of reviews with a bunch of retailers on them but you can definitely get them through our website.
Andrew D Ive 48:02
Okay, so if you’re a retailer in Florida, and you sell ice cream, you guys have to be taking the Revolution Gelato mini pies. I’ve only been hearing amazing things about them and these guys are kind of breaking the boundaries of what’s happening in ice cream and yeah, highly recommended.
Andrew D Ive 48:18
Alright, Jared, thank you so much for your time. I’m going to hit the pause button, and then I’m going to say a few words to you and then we can head off. Thanks for coming along to today’s podcast. I’m sure the conversation with Revolution Gelato was entertaining. Maybe it created some questions. If you do you have questions by all means, add them below or reach out to Revolution Gelato or myself. Big Idea Ventures.com or revolutiongelato.com.
Andrew D Ive 48:49
Thanks for coming along. Please do like and subscribe. We’d love to send you updates of our new podcasts as and when they arrive, usually weekly. That’s it for today’s conversation. Please do engage with us. We’re very much about wanting to get more people interested in the alternative protein and the plant based, cell based and fermentation enabled space of the food industry. I look forward to hearing from you look forward to next week’s podcast. Thanks very much. Bye