Spotlight: Sub Zero Ice Cream Franchise Puts a New Spin on Frozen Treats

Spotlight: Sub Zero Ice Cream Franchise Puts a New Spin on Frozen Treats

You might think that there’s no way to update the ice cream shop business. But Sub Zero Ice Cream is trying to change that. You can read all about how the business is changing the ice cream game in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides unique ice cream options.

Founder Jerry Hancock told Small Business Trends, “Sub Zero Ice Cream is the nation’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream franchise. Sub Zero can customize ice cream upwards of 2.5 million combinations and also sells pies and shakes.”

Business Niche

Using a unique process.

Hancock says, “Sub Zero is best known for our made-to-order -321 degree liquid nitrogen treats, which take about two minutes to create using a unique patented process. The flash freezing ensures ice crystals are minuscule, resulting in an ultra-smooth and creamy product. The liquid nitrogen ice cream store also caters to a range of dietary needs, offering seven cream bases including original, premium custard, low-fat and yogurt, as well as lactose-free, vegan and sugar-free options.”

How the Business Got Started

Through a burrito franchise.

Hancock explains, “In 2003, my wife Naomi and I bought a burrito franchise in Utah. Within a year, we added ice cream to our store for additional revenue. As we began researching the ice cream industry, we knew we needed to offer something unique in order to stand out from the crowded industry. So we figured out a way to re-invent ice cream.”

Spotlight: Sub Zero Ice Cream Franchise Puts a New Spin on Frozen Treats

Biggest Win

Appearing on Shark Tank.

Hancock says, “To date, our company’s biggest win was in 2012 when Naomi and I had the opportunity to appear on the show “Shark Tank” and showcase our unique product. While it was a nerve-racking and unfamiliar experience, it was also very exciting and tremendously rewarding. Although the sharks did not “bite” at our franchise, they loved the product. Appearing on the show allowed us to showcase our liquid nitrogen ice cream on national television, and we gained thousands of franchise leads as a result.”

Lesson Learned

Take time to learn.

Hancock says, “If we could do it all over again, Naomi and I wouldn’t have underestimated the learning curve involved in the initial development of the ice cream. We spent countless hours experimenting with how to freeze it, serve it and make the best tasting flavors. There was a lot of trial-and-error in determining the proper flavor dilution ratio. What I thought would take a year to lock down, ended up taking about four. Liquid nitrogen ice cream had not been done as a customized, individual 4-6 oz. product for immediate consumption, so we had to learn how to do it successfully.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Building the franchise business.

Hancock says, “We’d use a spare $100,000 to generate new franchisee leads for Sub Zero. “Shark Tank” was an outstanding opportunity to initially introduce our concept to consumers and potential franchisees alike. Now we’ve mainly been focused on streamlining our marketing efforts, but we recognize the need to share our fun business opportunity to those who are looking to invest.”

Spotlight: Sub Zero Ice Cream Franchise Puts a New Spin on Frozen Treats

Fun Fact

A famous ancestor.

Hancock explains, “We are actual descendants of John Hancock. Therefore, we like to consider ourselves the “Founding Fathers” of nitrogen ice cream.”

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Images: Sub Zero Ice Cream

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.