How This S’pore-Based Vegan Ice Cream Brand Raised $1M
Going vegan no longer means giving up all your favorite treats and desserts.
While many F&B establishments have started adding vegan dessert options to their menus, specialty stores selling vegan treats are also popping up on the island.
One of those stores is Kind Kones, a Singapore-based all-natural vegan ice cream brand.
Located at Forum Mall in Singapore, it serves ice cream without dairy, eggs, refined sugar, and other artificial additives.
It all started when co-founders Ishpal Bajaj and Serina Singhsachathet had the idea to experiment with making their own plant-based ice cream at home in 2017.
Serina told Vulcan Post that she looked for dairy-free desserts after having her first child, but found they weren’t widely available at that time.
With her knowledge of plant-based and alternative milks, she started researching recipes online and making her own ice cream at home.
At that time, the couple had no intention of selling their homemade ice cream. However, they quickly realized that it could be a viable business, which kicked off months of research and development (R&D).
Months of trial and error
Ishpal and Serina shared that they didn’t have any culinary experience, so the Kind Kones ice cream was born out of pure experimentation.
With Serina’s home ice machine, the duo started churning and mixing.
They started with the three basic flavors – vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate – and deduced that if they could perfect them, they were on to something.
Although the ice cream tasted great, Serena felt it wasn’t something worth selling, which is why they decided to bring a chef on board.
We literally started out in a home kitchen with no food science background. It was all trial and error, and make it fly.
Come to think of it, the ice cream was so different from what it is today. It tasted good but we couldn’t sell it because it’s something we would eat at home, but not buy.
Serina Singhsachathet, co-founder of Kind Kones
After six to eight months of R&D, the duo opened their first Kind Kones outlet in a “small community shopping center” in Malaysia.
Scaling from a single store
Even though the husband and wife team were keen on having store space in large malls, management “was not so open to the idea of plant-based ice cream.”
The duo shared that getting people to believe in their product is a tall order, especially when there is an abundance of brands of ice cream.
We were faced with a lot of challenges in the beginning, with people avoiding our ice cream and wondering why they should eat it. There was an idea that vegetable or vegan ice cream would not taste good.
Ishpal Bajaj, co-founder of Kind Kones
Despite the setbacks, the couple spent a lot of time educating their staff and customers on the benefits of their ice cream, both for vegans and non-vegans.
They added that the response to their first store launch was “fantastic” which helped the business grow.
Soon they began to receive calls from other shopping centers interested in having Kind Kones on their premises. The brand has since expanded to five outlets in Malaysia and one in Singapore.
Over the years, the brand has also expanded its menu to over 20 flavors, some of them unique.
For example, Blue Planet – which looks like Earth – gets its hue from the blue pea flower and pieces of matcha cake. Local flavors such as Durian and Pandan Gula Melaka are also part of the range.
A single scoop costs S $ 4.90 for standard flavors, while premium flavors cost S $ 6.90. Other treats such as brownies, cookies, donuts and cakes are also available.
Sharing the challenges of COVID-19, Serena said the crisis has made them stronger.
She added that when the breaker was announced, her team had to scramble to set up an online presence throughout the day to keep the business going.
The positive side is that the brand’s reach and presence has grown significantly.
“It was gratifying to know that people were still thinking of us then and wanting to order our ice cream,” Ishpal said.
As they had not yet set up logistics at the time, Ishpal spent his days driving to deliver ice cream to customers.
When Singapore’s economy finally reopened, the duo noted that their sales had doubled after the breaker, compared to pre-Covid sales.
Raised S $ 1 million in seed funding
Earlier this month, Kind Kones announced that it had raised US $ 753,900 (S $ 1 million) in a seed funding round led by Singapore-based venture capital fund DSG Consumer Partners.
The cycle was also joined by Saber Ventures, as well as other investors.
Commenting on the funding, Ishpal said he “gave them confirmation that they’re on to something; that there is a larger plan here.
Indeed, the couple have big plans for Kind Kones. A new point of sale with a different concept is already planned to open in March in Paragon.
Serina said they had previously had partner hotels and businesses approaching them to offer Kind Kones in hotels and offices.
She added that their priority is to make sure the ice cream is ready for sale, so that it can be stored in supermarkets and hotels, while also ensuring that no unnatural ingredients are used. .
However, the brand’s success doesn’t mean the couple will be resting on their laurels anytime soon, as Serina said the brand is a constant work in progress.
Three years later, our ice cream is still a work in progress. We are always in constant evolution and R&D. The process is ongoing and will continue for some time.
Serina Singhsachathet, co-founder of Kind Kones
The couple also aim to always strive to provide a better way to indulge in sweet treats guided by a philosophy of being kind to your body, the environment, and others.
That’s what Kind Kones is.
Featured Image Credit: Kind Kones
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