March 4th, 2019
Editor’s Note: This Friday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. We’re commemorating the day early by hearing from Natasha Case, Founder & CEO Of Coolhaus from Los Angeles, California. She’s sharing her story of how her business idea grew from one Google Search to a product that’s sold in thousands of stores across the U.S. Check out the stories of other women around the world who have built #MoreThanABusiness here.
Ice cream has always been a lifelong passion of mine, and when I went to architecture school, I thought I could use food to make architecture more fun. I knew I was onto something when my friends were devouring my crazy ice cream concoctions—ginger cookies and chocolate wasabi ice cream, anyone? My partner, Freya Estreller, and I decided to do a Google search (“hipster ice cream truck”) to see if anything like my ice cream experiments was already out there. Nothing popped up. After we did that search, we saw an opportunity to take a leap of faith and turn my hobby into an actual business. In 2008, we converted an old postal truck into an ice cream truck, brought it to a music festival—and Coolhaus was born.
Coolhaus now distributes to over 7,500 grocery stores, has three storefronts and operates 10 mobile ice cream trucks and carts in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas. It’s been a rewarding, challenging and delicious journey. Along the way, people have asked us countless questions about how we built and expanded our business. For us, the answer has always been following the guidance of mentors and partners. You can learn from other female entrepreneurs, whether they’re further along in their business journey or just getting started. It’s common—almost natural—for us to overthink or feel as if we have to prove something before we ask for a mentor or partner. Have the courage to ask; the worst will be a “no,” but the upside is so much greater than that.
Now that we have more than 10 years of experience, we’re passionate about being on the other side as mentors to other female entrepreneurs. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way:
- Fail forward. You’re going to fail, so make the most out of how you do that. When you need to cut cords on an idea, do it with efficiency and don’t drag it along.
- We talk a lot about the minimum viable product—meaning that sometimes, an idea just needs to get put out there to see how it will do. Focus on building, measuring and learning.
- Inexperience is not an obstacle. When you realize the status quo are not hard truths, you start to take risks that you didn’t realize you were taking.
We’re thriving in an important moment of time where there’s real energy of women helping and supporting each other. We’re proud not only of the business we’ve built but also of the opportunity to lead by example. We want other women to take their crazy ideas from a Google search to an actual business, too.