Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Student entrepreneurs launch ice cream co.

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-a1ac7776-5455-2d05-b933-0dadd625186a">Just a few months ago, Beau Smit ’17 and Rohan Mukherjee ’19 had no idea they’d become business partners, but found themselves on that path regardless. “We have similar interests, very counterbalancing traits, so we decided to go into business together and found this company,” Mukherjee said.

Last year, the two student entrepreneurs brought their love of ice cream to Carleton’s Start-Up Fellowship Competition, led by the Career Center and the Chair of Economics, Nathan Grawe. The duo successfully pitched their cause, winning a $10,000 stipend for initial business expenses. Whatever they’re doing must be working: over Family Weekend, Minnesota Nice Cream sold over 250 scoops of maple-flavored ice cream in Sayles-Hill Campus Center.

The ice cream industry is nothing new for Mukherjee, who built his own company from the ground up in high school. This time, however, he wanted to do even better. Mukherjee reached out to Maya Warren ’07, who holds a PhD in ice cream science, for her first-hand expertise. Then the team hit the road.

“Beau and I drove all around Minnesota for the entire summer, looking for the right milk, the right dairy, and the right people who have the machinery to make our ice cream,” said Mukherjee. Smit noted that the “right” products for the brand are high-quality and local. “We are the only company that sells retail-level super-premium ice cream made solely from Minnesotan ingredients,” said Smit.

At the end of their search for a dairy provider, Mukherjee and Smit decided on Autumnwood Farm, a multigenerational, family-run enterprise located just twenty minutes outside Minneapolis. According to Mukherjee, Autumnwood makes a 14% butterfat ice cream base, or mixture of ingredients, and brings it to Edina Creamery for production. Mukherjee and Smit rented Edina Creamery’s facilities, and the ice cream shop’s employees helped solidify their dream.

To create ice cream, the base first has to run through the ice cream machine. Then air is added, but not too much––the lower the overrun, the creamier the final product. Flavor comes next, by way of a process called variegation. Mukherjee and Smit relied on local honey, maple syrup, and coffee for their initial flavors.

“A big part of our company’s vision was developing local networks in Minnesota to help support other farmers while supporting our company,” says Mukherjee. “We have a symbiotic relationship with the Minnesota farming community as a bedrock to our ice cream flavor quality. The honey supplier said, word-for-word, ‘we will grow as you grow.’”

Both Mukherjee and Smit credit their Carleton education for providing them with the tools they needed to open up shop. For Mukherjee, the cooperative nature of Carleton’s ethos played a significant role in preparing him for entrepreneurship.

“Model United Nations, for instance, helped me phenomenally with this business because it taught me how to find the right people and resources to get me where I need to be,” says Mukherjee.

“I think a lot of it just has to do with critical thinking and learning how to solve unique problems,” says Smit. “You run into problems every day trying to launch a business, and you just have to work through them and knock down the obstacles.”

Smit cited Bon Appetit’s Farm-to-Fork policy as a driving force in their partnership with Minnesota Nice Cream. Beginning in January, students will be able to purchase half-pint containers of Minnesota Nice Cream at Sayles Cafe. Ice cream by the scoop, however, won’t return until the spring.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *