Louis Armstrong and Matt Price are excited for two new things happening within their local startup: fundraising for a new product and expansion in the grocery retail market.
Killer Creamery, known for its sugar free yet tasty pint ice cream selection, is raising $2 million in funding for commercialization of a healthy ice cream sandwich to join the brand’s growing presence in big name retailers like Ahold, Albertsons, Kroger, QFC and WinCo Foods.
About half of the $2 million is already committed, Price said, and the brand wants to amplify its traction; now is a good time for investors at large to join.
“There’s been a delta in the better-for-you space and what the consumer remembers about ice cream; this ice cream sandwich signifies the shortening of that delta,” said Price, COO. “We’re excited this product really is something of a transcendence, not just for us but the category at large.”
Image provided by Killer Creamery.
The grocery retail market helps give accessibility for Killer Creamery to prove its healthy ice cream sandwich concept, which took two years to commercialize.
“You have to be pretty confident to push it out there,” said Armstrong, CEO and founder. The hope is to make a good local case study for those wanting to bring innovation into that world, and how to launch it.
Keto friendly ice cream was how Killer Creamery penetrated the grocery retail market, and the brand grew from recognition through Boise Startup Week’s TrailMix Pitch Competition — supported by Albertsons.
Armstrong, a food scientist, and Price, a seasoned entrepreneur executive, met in 2018 at Trailhead Boise, and are continuing to work out of that space.
Armstrong credits his diverse experience in food manufacturing as helping him get his start as an entrepreneur; Price said he has always had a deep appreciation for entrepreneurship and has spent much of his career growing such ventures.
Image courtesy Killer Creamery.
The five-member company’s development facilities are now in Meridian. The immediate hope is to add a VP of Sales to the group.
“(Louis and I) and the team really believe in something bigger than Killer Creamery, and that’s to build infrastructure, bring resources back to this local ecosystem, help everyone else along the journey do the same,” Price said.
“We’re very happy with the support of Boise,” Armstrong said. “And (we’re) excited to keep our success going, and are willing to help anyone else going on the same journey.”
Boise Startup Week, Built in Idaho and Trailhead also took some time with Armstrong and Price to gain insight into their entrepreneurship journey.
Louis, how did you enter the entrepreneur space?
“It’s really trying to understand how to capitalize a business to rally the fans and supporters, and solidifying the story. ‘How do you get out there and prove the product, brand and how do you tell your story properly?’ That’s still kind of the journey, taking the leap, and making it happen.”
What is the most difficult thing you both have faced and how did you overcome it?
Louis — “Raising a family through all this; stretching my time; trying to be a CEO and grow the company, and being a good husband and father. We are innovating, doing something no one has ever done before, but it’s riddled with complexities, wanting to scale something and develop … you run into old systems, processes, and you have to change mindsets; and that takes time to train and efforts to make that happen.”
Matt — “Some harder parts, from a tactical standpoint, is being able to identify whether you have traction and if you have something investible, and I think every entrepreneur should have a bit of background in investment banking. Getting funding can be hard, (with the) set expectation of the responsibility of taking other people’s money and putting it to work.”
“Most (difficulties) are logically simple but emotionally complex; when you have a small team, what really drives it is the passion. Transitioning a startup into an actual company takes a lot of work, and is something people should go into not taking that lightly. As you get more and more traction the good idea fairy starts floating around, and that is like an agent of distraction; enhance your focus, not spread your focus out.”
What additional advice do you both have for other early stage entrepreneurs?
Louis — “Really I knew we could make a nice product within this huge category … I hope anybody understands the category they’re in, the size of the market they could capture, and why they’re special; innovation is part of that.”
“At least with my wife, we have stability through her job. I didn’t feel I was giving up anything, but I do respect those, especially those with young families — truly understand … what your path to success is and how you want to label that success: build a legacy and hand it to your kids, build then sell … be real intentional with the path you take; take the leap if supported but go fast.”
Matt — “Be able to start from a position where you have some sort of granular insight into what you want to do; dream around your opportunities or build something off the knowledge you have. Really fall in love with incremental wins. … You almost have to surrender expectations and just fall in love with the process.”
What resources helped?
Louis — “Trailhead is of course one near and dear; I started working out of Basecamp developing the brand; being able to showcase the product, pitch nights, all of that (is) part of my story, how I could grow the brand locally; now we are back full circle; it’s a great community of startups to be involved in.”
Matt — “I definitely second Trailhead as far as a community incubator. I’d say Tiam and the staff he’s built, they genuinely care about the health of the ecosystem and the participation in it. Local founders of companies have been really helpful to other local founders; they’re always willing to share resources and good advice. You don’t always get that.”
This article was created as a collaboration between Built In Idaho, Boise Startup Week and Trailhead.