Entrepreneur Profile: Ben and Jerry
In 1980, Ben and Jerry make a big leap when they started selling
Hi! This is Meghan Lynn Allen for About.com, and today we'll talk about entrepreneurs Ben and Jerry.Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends and grew up together in New York. Ben got his first taste for making ice cream on a farm, and you could find him behind the wheel of an ice cream truck. Jerry went to Oberlin College and you could find Jerry behind the cafeteria counter scooping ice cream.A few years later, they reunited over an idea to go into the bagel making business, but eventually they gravitated towards ice cream. They started their business in Burlington, Vermont, and quickly realized that the college students in Burlington had no ice cream options. They invested $12000 in a renovated gas station, and a whopping $5 in an ice cream making course.They had a philosophy of close community connection. They started a film festival, and gave away free ice cream scoops. They still have free cone day to this day. As their business grew, they took a big leap in 1980 and started selling pints, like these, to local stores. This marks the beginning of their spectacular rise.By 1983, they had stores open outside of Vermont, and they had flavors like Cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby, usually whipped up by Jerry himself. Competitors like Haagen-Dazs tried to limit their growth and block them in markets. Ben & Jerry responded with lawsuits in order to keep the markets open. Ben & Jerry continued their mission of social consciousness with flavors like Rainforest Crunch, which helped direct funds towards the preservation of the Amazon rainforest. In 1995, they ran the "Yo, I'm Your CEO" contest, which playfully reflected the need of a CEO with more business savvy.The company was bought by Unilever in 2000 for 326 million dollars. Ben & Jerry themselves are no longer involved in the day-to-day operations, but the company has been able to maintain a social minded identity. They promote recycling, conservation and hormone-free milk. In 2005, they created the world's biggest baked Alaska, all to protest the Alaskan Refuge wildlife drilling.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.