This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That? We ask readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories.
Introducing Lauren Walter, co-owner of Be Good Gelato, based in Toronto. She started the business with her co-founder, Kevin De Clippeleir.
1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate?
Our business, Be Good Gelato, was founded in 2012 and began operations in the spring of 2013. We hand-make fresh gelato and sorbetto and deliver it by cargo bike to our customers throughout downtown Toronto. Our gelato is all made from scratch and we pasteurize our own base in house. We partner with local growers for many ingredients and source local and organic where possible.
We operate seasonally, from April to October, and aside from delivery and custom orders we can be found at events and markets throughout the summer. Another service we offer is custom packaging for our gelato. So far this has been used primarily for weddings and corporate orders, but the sky's the limit.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
It didn't take much. We had both been working in the hospitality industry, Kevin in Belgium and myself in Canada. We became disillusioned with the industry. The uncertainty and instability of our work kept both of us up at night. We felt the only way to regain control and empower ourselves was to build our own business, rely on ourselves to create jobs we were passionate about. No one was going to hand them to us.
We both had different reasons for starting a gelato business. My passion is marketing and Kevin's is food. I came up with my marketing plan long before I knew how to make gelato. Kevin, a formally trained pastry chef, spent his off time researching everything food. Funny enough, it was in Italy learning to make gelato that we met. Realizing we shared sentiment, passion and love for artisan food, our partnership came naturally.
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
Our typical customers are gelato fanatics. We deliver throughout the downtown core mainly to businesses. Arriving on bicycle to a crowd waving, waiting for gelato is the best part of the job. We have built our client base through word of mouth, thanks to a lot of wonderful customers.
We use Twitter and Facebook to update our daily whereabouts and take delivery requests. On top of delivery we do pop-up gelato shops, vend at farmers' markets and have customers pick up orders from our production kitchen. Something new we are able to offer this season is custom packaging for customers looking for an extra personal touch.
4. What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business? Do you have any employees?
My role in the business is the sales and marketing end – although I have been known to spin a batch of gelato or two. Kevin is the chef and go-to for custom recipe development. Although we work closely together we try to keep out of each other's way. We will be bringing on two employees for the coming season.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
For us success is loving what we do, taking pride in our product and giving the best service possible. Every day we think about how we can go above and beyond to show our customers that their happiness makes us happy. I mean, we hand deliver gelato directly to our customers. It doesn't get much better than that for us.
To quote Maya Angelou, "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Be good.