Felecia Hatcher’s Feverish Pops Started In An Ice Cream Cart, But She’s Ready To Franchise
While chasing down an ice truck in heels, an idea came to Felecia Hatcher. What about an ice cream truck that catered to adult tastes?
After years of working for Nintendo both she and her husband, Derick Pearson, were let go from their marketing jobs in 2008. Although Hatcher, 30, worked in the corporate world she has a history as an entrepreneur. She is the author of The ‘C’ Students Guide to Scholarships and How to Start a Business on a Ramen Noodle Budget. Prior to joining Ninetendo, she launched two companies.
And besides Feverish Pops she is also teaching young people ages 10 to 21 to code through Code Fever, which she founded in April 2013. The program offers weekend trainings for kids and their parents and winter bootcamp sessions. Eventually it will include a full-fledged six-week program in Miami schools.
When venturing back into the entrepreneural world, Hatcher decided use $2,000 and try out her idea. She bought an ice cream cart from Craigslist, came up with fun and funky popsicle flavors and hit the streets. But Hatcher wasn’t taking her cart just anywhere. She took her Feverish Pops cart only to places where adults hung out–in front of night clubs, at weddings, etc.
Now, her boutique gourmet pop company even has a store in Midtown Miami. Hatcher uses organic and natural ingredients sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice for her unique pops. And her flavor menu has expanded to include Pineapple Basil, Mango, Strawberry Balsamic, and Chocolate Salted Coconut. She also has a line “boozy pops” with alcohol: Mango Bourbon, Watermelon Ginger Vodka and Strawberry Mojito.
Feverish Pops has catered events for such A-list clients as Google, Forever 21, Live Nation, J. Crew, Universal Music, Cirque de Soleil, Playboy, Bacardi and even the US Census Bureau. And Hatcher has been honored by the White House as one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs under 30.
The ice cream business was a good choice. Annually, an estimated 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related desserts are made, generating about $10 billion annual revenue.
MadameNoire: Why the name Feverish Pops?
Felecia Hatcher: If you feel hot, you can cool down with ice cream. Ice cream and pops make people feel good and we wanted to create a brand that didn’t sound like an old-fashioned ice cream company. Plus I love dessert! I even got married in a donut shop.
MN: You and your husband were both working at Nintendo and you were both laid off. Why did you go the entrepreneurial route instead of getting another corporate position?
FH: It’s not that I didn’t look. I looked at a lot of places. I realized I could be depressed or do this crazy idea. So I picked the crazy idea.
MN: Was it a major transition to go from the corporate world to being a small business owner?
FH: I think entrepreneurism is in my blood. I started my first business when I was a teenager. Despite being a “C” student I was able to land more than $130,000 in scholarships because I knew how to market myself. People started asking me for advice and it was my mother who first said I should charge for the advice. So I started my first company, Urban Excellence. We were a college prep company and we were doing really well. I was speaking all over the country and running the business from my dorm room as a college freshman. We created college prep programs for companies like DeVry University, MECA, AMPS Institute, the YMCA, TED Center, and the Urban League. But there came a point when I asked another person to take over an account, only to find out he took the account for himself. I felt so betrayed. I stopped working on the project and swore I would never go into business again. But later on I realized it was available lesson, one that has helped me today.
Now I am very careful who I trust with Feverish Pops. At 24, I started a public relations company but I didn’t put in the effort to take it to places it could have gone. But we did create marketing and social media campaigns for such companies as Nintendo, Sony, Wells Fargo, Microsoft and Little Debbie.
MN: You have a unique marketing strategy for Feverish Pops.
FH: Yes, we didn’t want just to sell ice cream. We knew our target market was adults. Adults like ice cream too, so we wanted to give them some sophisticated flavors. And honestly I took the pops to places I wanted to hang out — nightclubs, etc. We wanted to branch out to catering but I didn’t have any contacts so I would go set up outside of the events and eventually people started hiring us. It’s all about positioning. We recently did an event for Adidas and they wanted us to do 5,000 blue pops to go along with their logo and we had the carts wrapped in the Adidas logo.
MN: What’s next for Feverish Pops?
FH: We want to start offering licensing opportunities within the next five years. This will expand our brand. We already have a program were he help young entrepreneurs set up their own Feverish Pop carts. We have a lot going on, so it’s going to be a fun 2014.
MN: Tell me about Code Fever?
FH: We are teaching underserved kids about coding. There are a lot of opportunities out there but some communities are being left behind. We want to change this. We also get the parents involved. I hope to open innovation centers soon. I think that it is everyone’s responsibility to give back. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have help. I was a knucklehead student in high school and I want to help those same types of kids.