We recently found out that someone is trying to trademark a popsicle company called King Popz.
Being that our popsicle company is called King of Pops, this raised some eyebrows around the old pop factory. We kindly asked them to consider a new name, both to protect our trademark and to save them from themselves (seriously bad name, right?).
This kind of thing is not new.
A couple of years ago an ice cream company popped up down the street from us named Queen of Cream.
There is a competitor in Atlanta currently boasting that it makes “the best pops ever” and I once found entire pages of copy that I wrote for our website being used by a pop company in DC-and it wasn’t even good copy!
Just this week we found out that a large regional competitor is opening a new shop in Decatur Square, right on our turf.
We also get loads of requests for information about how to start a popsicle company and on this front we are generally pretty helpful. We remember just how in over our heads we were in those early days and like to help out (we are still in over our heads, to be clear, just slightly less so).
One such entrepreneur started asking a lot of the typical questions last year like “Where do you get your carts?” and “What kind of pops machine should I get?” and “Seriously, what is the deal with dry ice?”
We graciously answered them all, and not just because they were based in another country.
This year they are selling pops here in Atlanta.
Their name? Royal Pops. 🙄
So, in order to save everyone else a lot of trouble, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how to start a successful popsicle company, based on what I’ve learned from being immersed in one these past five years.
Here goes. . .
First, buy one of these. Then buy some fruit and mix it up. Then freeze it.
Plop a cart down somewhere and start selling your pops.
Easy enough so far right?
Okay, next you need to stay up until 2 in the morning freezing and bagging pops and then wake up bright and early to start selling them again.
Pretty soon after that you’re going to need to find someone like Neil who is willing to work alongside you until 2 in the morning making pops and then wake up bright and early and sell them with you.
Then find some pop slingers like Rachel, who you didn’t even invite to your open pop interviews, but who had the guts to show up anyway and then 3 years later knows more about the company than you do.
Or like Andre, who physically cannot frown and who only stops slinging pops long enough to go to France for a month to look for (actual) dragons*.
Soon, people are going to start wanting you to bring pops to their weddings and office parties and such, so find someone like Tyler to handle catering. He will drive everyone in the office a little crazy, but he will also berate Sir Richard Branson’s handlers at a speaking event until they hand deliver him a popsicle.
As you keep growing, find people like Andy, Brandon (and ahem, Matt) that are willing to quit their cushy corporate jobs and take pay cuts to join you, simply because they believe in what you are doing.
You’re going to be experimenting with some pretty weird flavors, so you will have to guarantee every pop you serve and if a kid drops hers, give her a new one. If shes crying give her mom one too.
Just when your office starts to get impossibly busy and loud, make it busier and louder by carving a window in the side of it and selling pops out of it to passersby.
Host a free yoga in the park event every week. Maybe some people will show up.
Work seven days a week in the blazing sun, averaging about one meal per day, whilst losing 20 pounds and getting a pretty nasty farmers tan.
Finally, invite the whole city out for a massive party at the end of the year and give out thousands of free pops.
After all that, go rest for a month or two, but get ready to do it all over again come Spring.
That’s honestly all there is to it.
When I joined King of Pops I had never really considered the idea of a popsicle company being a viable business, much less a place to earn a living. Now there are hundreds of them.
So yeah, turns out the barrier to entry in the pop game is pretty low.
The barrier to entry for almost everything is pretty low actually.
Want to start a juice bar? Be a real estate agent? Launch a messaging app? Publish a novel?
Nothing is really stopping you from entering any of that.
But relevance? Staying power? Real success?
No shortcuts for that, but lucky for all of us, it’s not rocket science either.
It takes a combination of hard work, constant innovation, and amazing people to help you along the way.
Just know that should you manage to pull that off, nothing is stopping your competition from following you right over that low entry barrier and setting up shop next door.
When it happens, don’t panic. Just shrug and get back to work.
That’s what we do, and it’s not arrogance.
It’s just that, if someone takes the time to compete, you must be doing something worthwhile.
*Not making this up.