October 10, 2015
Charlie Francis – The Ice Cream Wizard
Meet British ice-cream wizard Charlie Francis, a former advertising industry veteran from Wales, who got so bored from his job that he started his own Ice Cream Company “Lick Me I’m Delicious.”
Francis’s ice cream company was quick to create a buzz among ice-cream fans with its exotic product line including ice-cream made from jellyfish protein and a machine that produced edible mists available in 200 flavors like Swirlywoosh, Whizzbang and lobster.
The mobile liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor “Lick Me I’m Delicious” is all set to record its growth from £60,000 present turnover to £140,000 in the coming year.
Ice-cream was not something new to Francis. In fact he got his first taste for invention while growing up on a Pembrokeshire farm where his parents made ice cream. Francis confessed in an interview that he is happiest when holding a fork and a screwdriver.
He grew up trying out different flavors. Francis invented an ice-cream that could glow in the dark by using synthesized jellyfish proteins. These are the same proteins that help jellyfish produce light inside their bodies. With a cost of $220 a scoop, these ice-cream are not cheap, which also means you are not going to find these exotic ice-creams on supermarket shelves anytime sooner.
However, these ice creams taste really good. Francis has experimented with more than 200 flavors. It was during this time he was struck with an idea of glow-in-the-dark ice cream while he was looking for a red berry (aka miracle fruit) which when eaten causes sour food like lemon to taste sweet like candy.
While searching online, he stumbled upon a research paper on jellyfish that described the inherent property that allows it to emit light called bioluminescence. He found a lab in China where they are synthesizing the protein. The scientist agreed to ship over a sample to Francis.
The protein mixed in the ice-cream reacts with the tongue at neutral pH. As the mouth warms up the protein, the pH levels rises and the ice-cream starts to glow. Since the production of protein is still in its early stage, it costs Francis around $320 for just 2 grams.
Though it might sound too ambitious, Francis is now looking at ways to create an invisible ice cream. It sounds practically impossible since ice crystals refract light, but Francis believes he will figure out a way of doing it.
Francis secured funding for his business by participating in a competition “take one small step competition” with Barclays bank. The competition was like X factor for business where entrants had to get as many votes as possible from a panel of judges and members of the public.
Frances spent plenty of time giving out free samples of ice cream. He ended up winning £50,000 from the competition and he invested another £20,000 of his savings.
Much of the business Francis got, was from events where his ice cream images were placed quite prominently. Francis said if he had invested his marketing budget into a magazine, he wouldn’t have got much interest. So he focused on creating interesting stories and making his business sound exciting to others in order to generate lot of noise in the press.
Francis, whom now many call Willy Wonka of the ice cream world, not only has a great taste for ice-creams but has also proved himself to be a great businessman.
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