By Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development
Small Business Spotlight | Fulton County | Region 3
As the summer temperatures slowly begin making their way towards the century mark, our collective thoughts begin to wander towards finding ways to cool down. Some may find solace in a backyard oasis and others seek out the air conditioned space of movie theaters.
But if you’re like me, two words come to mind: ice cream! Although there is nothing wrong with a heaping bowl of store bought ice cream, sometimes I want something a little different. And something a little different is just what Revolution Gelato has created!
Jared Olkin and the Revolution Gelato team have created a dairy free, vegan product, using cashew and coconut milk as the base, rather than traditional milk. Launching with four flavors, their offerings have grown to include seasonal treats. Jared contends that Chocolate Fantasy is the most popular and this flavor won the Dairy Category for the Flavor of Georgia Award for 2017 and their Nekkid Espresso Dairy-Free Gelato was the Dairy Winner in 2016.
The love of frozen treats was planted in Jared when he was growing up. His mom had a homemade ice cream store, and Jared worked there as a teenager. But while in college at Tufts, Jared started thinking about his diet, specifically what it was doing to him and the environment.
Jared looked for options to traditionally mass-produce food. In many cases, he was successful; but oftentimes he fell short when looking for a socially-conscious substitute for his first love: ice cream. The options he did find ranged, as Jared put it, ‘from terrible to tolerable.’
Not to be deprived of enjoying one of this favorite treats, Jared started mixing different recipes in his dorm room and experimenting with flavors, textures and ingredients. This is where Jared’s passion for gelato took hold.
It developed slowly, but bit by bit, Jared was creating a product that was better than anything else on the market. However, two questions remained: How could he use his expertise to grow the product? And how could he make the transition from developing a product just for himself to a marketable product for many?
In 2010, Jared graduated from college, entered the consulting world, and the development of gelato was tabled for a few years. In 2013, the call of owning his own business became too strong, and Jared left consulting and focused full-time on gelato. Jared spent the next two years resolving production issues to ensure a consistent product.
On July 3, 2015, Revolution Gelato officially launched to the public in local grocery stores – including Candler Park Market, which remains one of the top markets for Revolution. In the early days, Revolution Gelato did it all including overseeing the production of each batch of product, distribution of the product by hand and conducting demonstrations increase awareness. During the first year, the number of accounts grew to 25.
Recalling the first year, Jared commented, ‘The challenges that they were faced with were in in developing an organization and infrastructure to support the growing business.’
Jared’s sister, Leah, came on board in 2015 to launch the retail arm. They initially thought a food truck would be the best way to reach customers and increase the exposure of gelato to new areas throughout the city. But as the summer grew to a close, the appeal of a food truck waned and they focused on establishing a fixed retail operation. As individual accounts grew, Leah became an all-purpose employee and made local deliveries.
In September 2016, the company experienced significant growth as it expanded into Whole Foods, quadrupling sales. This growth required that the company graduate from self-distributing the product to entering a regional distribution channel. By having a third party coordinate the distribution, it freed-up time to allow the company to play to its strengths and ultimately reach a wider range of customers. Leah again began exploring a dedicated retail outlet.
Fulfilling the initial goal of having a dedicated retail space, Revolution Gelato opened in a stall in the Global Grub Collective in July 2016. This location not only satisfies the neighborhood’s sweet tooth, but also allows Revolution Gelato to try out new flavor combinations and conduct market research.
Jared advises other entrepreneurs to seek advice from others. He established an advisory board to help ensure that the goals of Revolution Gelato remain on track and that the company doesn’t lose focus.
Revolution Gelato’s sales continue to be brisk, and the company now employees between 10 to 12 people at any given time working in the retail location, conducting product demonstrations at grocery stores across the area and operating the company’s catering services.
Got a Small Business question? Start the conversation! Contact Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development, at (404) 877-8406 or email@example.com.