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Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders

Revealing conversations with the leading creators of our time. From proven entrepreneurs building the companies of the future, to non-profit founders creating change and the artists shaping our culture - we go beyond the surface to find the nuance in what it takes to turn your ideas, into action.
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Now displaying: October, 2018
Oct 25, 2018
 
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I visited Ben Van Leeuwen at his Brooklyn-based ice cream factory!  They have a truly remarkable story, starting from a single ice cream truck 10yrs ago, to building an epic brand with a cult following.
 
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They’ve since grown to a $20mil business, going from 15 stores to 25 in the next few months after taking investment for the first time. They’ve also grown their wholesale business where they now sell their ice cream in over 1000 stores across 44 states.
 
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We discuss their humble beginnings, meeting his co-founder, falling in love,  a focus on product excellence by sourcing the very best ingredients & you’ll hear what it took to build their business with zero investment after their modest friends and family round. 

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SHOW NOTES

Here are five things to listen out for:
 
(1) Travel – Ben leaving college to travel and explore the world.
 
(2) Kaizen vs 10x Moonshot Thinking – continuous improvement in all aspects of their company vs a mindset of massive transformational change
 
(3) Starting a business with his wife & brother – navigating a breakup, working with family & how they’ve made Van Leeuwen a huge success
 
(4) Product & Customer Excellence – focusing on using only the very best ingredients & bringing joy to their customers
 
(5) Growth – stories from starting their first ice cream truck to growing to 25 stores & 44 states & why they decided to take major investment for the first time

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Times Stamps 

  • 3:02 – Who is Ben Van Leeuwen
  • 3:58 – How did Ben get into ice cream
  • 10:45 – Where Ben’s food awareness came from
  • 13:23 – Ben’s parents and his upbringing
  • 16:56 – How Ben developed his entrepreneurial spirit
  • 18:00 – The “ice cream idea”
  • 20:44 – Being healthy in an ice cream world
  • 23:46 – Ben’s travel memories
  • 26:38 – Ben’s craftsmanship in his work
  • 29:35 – Company values
  • 30:54 – Ben meeting his cofounder
  • 33:10 – How the company began
  • 36:21 – Writing initial business plan
  • 42:09 – Logo, branding and naming
  • 45:55 – Tactically building your team
  • 48:34 – Beginnings of the business
  • 50:25 – Putting the best ingredients into their first chocolate ice cream
  • 55:47 – First real day of business
  • 65:19 – What the business looks like today – 15-25 stores, selling in 1000 stores across 44 states
  • 67:02 – Ben’s thoughts on expansion
  • 70:38 – First year revenue numbers
  • 71:33 – Focus moving forward
  • 73:30 – Working with brother and wife
  • 74:35 – Working with ex-wife
  • 75:42 – Difficulties with raising money
  • 79:18 – Dealing with rejection
  • 80:58 – 20 years from now…
  • 83:45 – Admirable trait: not taking shortcuts
  • 84:54 – Other products for Ben to explore
  • 86:29 – Final remarks and advice
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