Headquarters: Dania Beach
Concept: Mobile, premium, handcrafted gelato on a stick that is fully customizable with different dips and unique toppings.
Story: Anthony Fellows has owned, managed and operated food service businesses for more than two decades, including experience with frozen desserts dating back to 1990. “After many years of developing stores/kiosks in large regional shopping centers, I grew tired of having to sign long, expensive leases and conform to standardized hours of operation. After noticing so many self-serve frozen yogurt concepts open, I knew I wanted to create something fresh and unique" said Fellows.
He said his aunt took a trip to Italy and told him that gelato was being sold on a stick. “Simultaneously, I was watching the mobile food industry around the country and believed if I could deliver a portable product in a mobile format, that would be fresh and fun, I could be on to something,” said Fellows.
The result: “HipPOPs is a healthier frozen dessert option that I feel good about serving to my kids and our community. We’re sourcing and hiring locally whenever possible. Our business model is interesting because we have taken all of the financial and operational inefficiencies out of the traditional frozen dessert model. I call it the Frozen Dessert Business Re-Imagined.”
Today there are two portable POPup gelato bars and one POPtruck operating in South Florida, with the next truck slated to launch in the United Arab Emirates in the third quarter of 2015.
Why the UAE? “Our truck fabricator was working with The Food Truck Company on a large project in Dubai,” said Fellows. “They are building multiple savory truck concepts and asked her to also build an ice cream truck concept for them. She introduced us to them and they really loved what we were doing in Miami and felt our brand would translate really well in Dubai. It felt right and we believe we have a great partner.”
Launched: June 2012
Management team: Anthony Fellows, CEO, and Niva Botknecht, co-founder, who handles social media and catering operations.
No. of employees: 7
Financing: $350,000 in friends and family investment.
Recent milestones: HipPOPS recently sold the master franchise development rights for the UAE to The Food Truck Company from Dubai. The company is currently developing a 5,000 square foot micro creamery in Dubai and will launch the first of 10 to 20 trucks in the third quarter of 2015; HipPOPs’ 2014 sales were up 27 percent.
Biggest startup challenge: Securing capital while also recruiting well-qualified franchisees who are passionate about building the brand.
Next step: Aggressively marketing to develop the domestic market with franchises. There are no domestic franchisees signed yet as the Dubai deal took up much of 2014, but the company is currently speaking to potential franchise candidates in Orlando, Palm Beach, and South Carolina. “We are currently searching and have been speaking with potential strategic partners to assist us in our growth,” Fellows said.