Meet Nicole Frankel – an NYC-based mother of 3 and CEO of Yum Actually, which makes the only nutrient-dense ice cream for kids. Each snack cup of their ice cream provides a full service of a fruit or vegetable and many essential vitamins and nutrients. After launching the business 2 years ago, they’ve now sold in close to 100 different retailers.
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Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Nicole Frankel: I’m an NYC-based mother of 3 and CEO of Yum Actually, which makes the only nutrient-dense ice cream for kids. Each snack cup of our ice cream provides a full service of fruit or vegetable and many essential vitamins and nutrients. After launching the business 2 years ago, we’re now sold in close to 100 different retailers.
I created the Yum Actually because I, like many parents, struggled to get my children to eat sufficient fruits and vegetables. I resorted to turning them into something they couldn’t refuse – ice cream. My daughter took one bite and exclaimed, “yum Actually!”. The name and business were subsequently established. I launched the business entirely on my own and up until recently have worn all of the company hats from sales and marketing to accounting and business operations.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Nicole Frankel: It’s a combination. There is a certain personality type that thrives under stressful, entrepreneurial circumstances – independent, creative, bold, adaptable. However, skills acquired during life will help nurture these traits and keep you going when things get tough. These skills I believe are patience, maturity, and a very, very thick skin.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Nicole Frankel: I’m persistent, creative, and stubborn.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Nicole Frankel: Yum Actually makes a better-for-you ice cream for children. We use either a fruit or vegetable as the main ingredient in our ice cream and less sugar to empower parents with delicious treats that they can feel better about giving to their children.
We started out making different flavors of avocado ice cream on popsicle sticks. Avocado posed a challenge for many reasons such as browning, cost, and flavor. Avocado is no longer a flavor and we make our ice cream in small cups instead of pops. Our packaging and branding have also changed over the last couple of years.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Nicole Frankel: An entrepreneur must assume that their initial idea and concept are going to be vastly different than the product that actually launches. Once customer feedback, costs, and manufacturing are factored into the initial idea, the product will be different than the initial idea. That is ok and it happens to everyone.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Nicole Frankel: Oh yes. I assumed the frozen dessert market wasn’t competitive because after all, it’s so difficult to introduce ice cream to the market right? I also assumed that because I found a nice co-packer (manufacturer) that they would be the right long-term fit. We ended up with lost ingredients, wrong ingredients, broken equipment, and a lot of wasted money!
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Nicole Frankel: I would have warned myself about the massive rising costs of goods coming our way.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Nicole Frankel: I was told friends and family would be the biggest support network. Unfortunately, I’ve found this to be wrong. Many people close to you won’t “get” what you’re trying to do and will not support you the way you thought they would. This is also normal.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Nicole Frankel: You need to have an e-commerce strategy in place regardless of the industry you’re in, as most sales have been coming from e-commerce over the last 2 years.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Nicole Frankel: “If you build it they will come”. This is false. You need to figure more creative ways to reach your target audience these days due to highly saturated markets.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Nicole Frankel: You need to have very thick skin especially given what we’ve been through during Covid19. You also need to be willing to change. You will probably need to change your product, strategy, cost, and more several times during this journey.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Nicole Frankel: There are several books and podcasts that have helped me. Some of them are “How I built this” by Guy Raz. “The 1 Page Marketing Plan” and “4 Hour Work Week”
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Nicole Frankel: A Guidance counselor. Mentoring and helping people is my jam.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Nicole Frankel: My mom of course! She raised 5 highly-spirited children to be caring, kind, and successful adults.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Nicole Frankel for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Nicole Frankel or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
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