By: Kelsey Juntwait
When Nicole Frankel’s daughter was four years old, she went on a “fruits and veggies strike,” as Nicole calls it, and refused to eat the healthy foods she saw on her plate. Worried about the nutrients that her daughter was missing out on, she had the idea to sneak them into the family’s homemade ice cream. After tasting the brightly colored sweet treats, her daughter decided that fruits and veggies, in fact, are yum, actually! And from there, a company was born — Yum Actually to be exact, a fruit-forward ice cream brand that has real fruits and vegetables as its primary ingredient.
Two years later and Yum Actually is now found in 18 stores across New York City with four different flavors to choose from — Yummy Mango, Caramel Sweet Potato, Creamy Honey Banana, and Butternut Squash Butterscotch.
She tells me that she “fell into this business without a plan.” Although she’s previously worked in multiple start ups, she never really pictured herself owning her own business. But Nicole knew that other parents were struggling with the same issue of getting their kids to eat right, so she decided to capitalize on her creativity.
About a year after the initial idea of her food business venture, Nicole attended Hudson Kitchen’s day-long Food Business Bootcamp to learn how to kick start her dream into a reality. Among the many different ways the Bootcamp helped her, she describes one segment in particular that sticks with her through everything she does — the entrepreneurial mindset. “I think about this almost daily,” she tells me before giddily trying to remember a specific quote from the Bootcamp Handbook that she loved. “Every entrepreneur experiences ups and downs, both daily and over time. It is critical to remember that neither ups nor downs are permanent.” This is vital to running a business, she tells me. “Everything can change the next day — and it likely will.”
Once you’ve got yourself into that mindset and recognize how important it is, the Bootcamp takes you on a more logistics-focused route. Nicole’s business was already a year into the planning stage when she signed up for this course, but she tells me that a few things changed from her plan after the Bootcamp was done, and one major factor in particular.
Before the Bootcamp, Yum Actually was targeting just about anyone who wanted to get nutrients in a yummier way. But then she learned about value proposition and differentiation. She began to question her audience. “I didn’t want to be yet another healthy ice cream out on the market. I wanted to stand out.” She thought about why she started in the first place — her daughter. “I realized that it’s much harder to get fruits and vegetables into kids than adults, and then I recognized that that’s what will differentiatie me. By doing a kid-targeted ice cream product. The Bootcamp solidified that decision.”
We end the conversation with advice to fellow entrepreneurs. “Most entrepreneurs spend all their time trying to perfect their product, and what ends up happening is that they get so bogged down in those details that they just never launch. I say, launch it! Even if it’s not perfect. Get into the deep end. Start getting feedback from buyers and consumers, because, ultimately, that’s what matters. Your product will evolve once you get that feedback.”
It’s now two years after the initial idea of her business and Nicole is reluctant to consider herself a total success story — although we think differently. But, as she tells me, “I just haven’t given up. You just can’t give up. And, I guess, because of that, I’m a success.”