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Lessons from a Brooklyn couple: Rebuilding their $40M ice cream business after bankruptcy – My MBA Career



Last Updated on October 29, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

Title: Brooklyn Ice Cream Business Rebuilds After Bankruptcy: 3 Lessons Learned

In a remarkable tale of resilience, Ample Hills Creamery, a beloved ice cream business valued at $40 million, has managed to bounce back after facing bankruptcy due to poor business decisions. Co-founders Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna are now sharing their story and three key lessons that can help others achieve financial success.

Ample Hills Creamery started in 2011 when Smith and Cuscuna used their life savings of $225,000 to open their first ice cream shop. The business quickly became a hit, prompting a partnership deal with Disney to create Star Wars themed ice cream flavors. However, this deal led to a cycle of raising outside capital and borrowing money, as the couple struggled to find knowledgeable venture capitalists.

Production issues in their factory and overspending on custom packaging and a Los Angeles storefront only added to their financial troubles. As a result, they were unable to raise more funds and eventually had to file for bankruptcy. Ample Hills was then sold for a mere $1 million.

But Smith and Cuscuna refused to give up. After reflecting on their mistakes and seeking entrepreneurial support, they decided to open a new ice cream shop called The Social in 2021. This time, they approached the business with improved financial management.

The couple focused on better record-keeping, budgeting, and sticking to their foundational ideals of using fresh ingredients. Their efforts paid off, and in 2022, they were able to buy back Ample Hills for just $150,000.

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The two ice cream shops now collectively bring in $300,000 to $400,000 in revenue each month, and both are profitable. Smith and Cuscuna have learned valuable lessons from their journey and are determined to approach growth slowly while focusing on building their brand effectively.

The key lessons they share are relevant to both personal and business finances. First and foremost, it is crucial to stay on top of debts to avoid complications and ensure a stable financial position. Learning from mistakes and applying past experiences to make better financial decisions is also vital.

Furthermore, Smith and Cuscuna emphasize the importance of being intentional with spending, sticking to a budget, and building an emergency fund for unforeseen financial difficulties. These lessons are key not only for aspiring entrepreneurs but for anyone looking to achieve financial success.

Smith and Cuscuna’s journey from bankruptcy to rebuilding their ice cream business serve as an inspiration to others. Their experience serves as a reminder of the importance of debt management, learning from mistakes, and being savvy with spending. By applying these lessons, individuals can set themselves up for financial success.

No longer just an ice cream business, Ample Hills Creamery and The Social represent a testament to the power of determination and financial acumen. Smith and Cuscuna’s story is a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs embarking on their own ventures and individuals seeking financial stability.

Robert is a talented writer and educator with a focus on MBA courses. He has years of experience teaching and writing about the intricacies of business education, and his work is highly regarded for its depth of insight and practical application. Robert holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from a reputable institution, and his academic background gives him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing MBA students. He has a talent for breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-understand language, making his writing accessible to a wide range of readers.

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