Innovation, a Scoop at a Time

Today was a top 5 day in my career to date. My coworkers and I had the amazing opportunity learn about innovation and entrepreneurship at Izzy’s Ice Cream.

It’s a simple story: Husband and wife Jeff and Lara Sommers wanted to open an ice cream shop a notch above your average mom and pop shop. So, they wrote a business plan, bought a book and took a class to learn how to make ice cream, and opened Izzy’s. In the process, they redefined the ice cream business on their own terms and created something amazing.

Here’s how Izzy’s is different:

The Izzy Scoop: In addition to a regular ‘ole scoop of ice cream, at Izzy’s you get a bonus mini “Izzy” scoop on top. Jeff grew up anti free sample – he felt that to take taste tests was to take advantage. The Izzy scoop is his way to offer customers the chance to try a new flavor without the risk of committing to a full scoop.

RFID Technology: Izzy’s makes 150 flavors of ice cream, but only sells 32 at any given time. RFID chips on each container automatically update the website, twitter feeds and menu board at Izzy’s keeping everyone informed of what’s currently available.

Poker Chips: You’ll see poker chips on just about every surface behind the scenes at Izzy’s. These chips are a simple way to tell everyone the number and flavors of ice cream containers hiding inside various freezers around the kitchen.

Building: Designed by Minneapolis architect David Salmela, Izzy’s Minneapolis building is a futuristic ice cream playground. The building size was determined by subtracting the turning radius of a semi-truck from the total width of the lot. What’s left is a functional and beautiful building that fits perfectly in its neighborhood next to the Guthrie and Gold Medal Flour Park.

Custom Flavors: Izzy’s is capable of making many amazing flavors of ice cream that aren’t widely appealing to the general public. Think savory flavors like olive oil or avocado. These are made especially for restaurants and chefs across the country. Word on the street is that Andrew Zimmern stops by for a container of his favorite cantaloupe flavor at least once a year.

For the record, I got the infamous salted caramel, cinnamon and an Izzy scoop of basil. Tres bien – let’s go back soon.

Until We Eat Again,
Two Happy Cooks

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