Sub Zero, the nation’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream franchise, is dedicated to providing gourmet, custom-made ice cream and changing the frozen treats industry by eliminating the need for freezers. In this exclusive Q&A, founder Jerry Hancock discusses Sub Zero’s revolutionary concept and what makes Sub Zero’s product so popular.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about how you came up with the idea for Sub Zero.
Jerry Hancock (JH): In 2004, after owning our own fast casual burrito franchise, Naomi and I were looking for ways to boost our revenue, and decided to start our own business.
When we decided to go with ice cream, we understood we needed a unique and entertaining idea to set us apart from the competition. Utilizing my chemistry background and Naomi’s experience as a teacher, we came across the idea to use liquid nitrogen to freeze ice cream. With that, the idea for Sub Zero was born.
FC: What are the benefits to using liquid nitrogen to freeze your ice cream?
JH: First, for franchise owners, it eliminates the need to use expensive, bulky freezers and electricity.
Second, it creates a unique customization process for customers that leads to over 2.5 million flavor combinations. Customers can select one of six bases, mix-ins and even the consistency of their treat.
As an added bonus – Sub Zero is a fun and exciting experience! Kids (and those of us who are kids at heart) love coming in and seeing the vapor clouds rolling over the counters as ice cream creations are being made.
FC: What makes Sub Zero so appealing for those with dietary restrictions?
JH: At Sub Zero, our customization is so unique that we cater to a variety of dietary sensitivities. We offer six bases – our original custard, low-fat custard, yogurt, lactose free, vegan and sugar free – making ice cream a treat everyone can enjoy.
FC: Tell us about Sub Zero’s mobile units and how they benefit franchisees.
JH: With Sub Zero’s mobile units, we are able to take ice cream on the go, thus creating a second source of revenue for franchisees. Because of Sub Zero’s unique liquid nitrogen concept, ice cream catering is now possible. These mobile units help bring Sub Zero’s products to events such as weddings, festivals, corporate outings and birthday parties.
They also allow franchisees to travel to schools, where they use our product to teach kids about food science, the properties of liquid nitrogen and to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.
FC: Why did you decide to go on Shark Tank, and how did that help Sub Zero?
JH: In 2012, Naomi and I had the opportunity to appear on Shark Tank and showcase our unique product. Albeit a nerve-wracking and unfamiliar experience, it was a very exciting and ultimately rewarding opportunity for our brand.
While the Sharks did not “bite” at the franchise business, they loved the product and we were able to show our liquid nitrogen ice cream on national television, and thus gain thousands of franchise leads for Sub Zero.
FC: How many locations does Sub Zero currently have?
JH: Sub Zero currently has 50 locations in three countries, including the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates.
FC: What are Sub Zero’s plans for growth in the next few years?
JH: We plan to open 50 new Sub Zero locations within the next year, as well as an additional 50 units within the next 18 months. We also plan to debut our new flagship corporate store and training center in Provo, UT in May 2016.
FC: What’s the typical investment to open a Sub Zero store?
JH: Total investment, including franchise fee, ranges from $165,000 to $381,000.
FC: How can people learn more about Sub Zero and its franchising opportunities?
JH: People can learn more about Sub Zero on our website at www.SubZeroIceCream.com.