063: Luisa Santos (Lulu’s Ice Cream)

Luisa Santos on Innovation City

“We’re entrepreneurs by blood here, it’s in our system to be testing things, hustling, and grinding…that’s just who we are.” — Luisa Santos

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Luisa Santos, Founder of Lulu’s Ice Cream. Lulu’s Ice Cream is a hand-crafted nitrogen ice cream shop that uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Luisa started her entrepreneurial journey in 2013 by selling homemade nitrogen ice cream as a project for school and quickly became captivated by the process. Luisa sits down with us to talk about how she started her ice cream business, the importance of networking and using advice to help grow yourself and your business, and Miami’s ever-growing entrepreneurial infrastructure. Find Lulu’s Ice Cream on Facebook at @LulusNitrogenIceCream and Instagram at @lulus_icecream.

They discuss:

  • Attended Miami Dade College and Georgetown University
  • Studied political economy and education in college
  • She stumbled upon nitrogen ice cream in 2013 and was captivated by the idea
  • The first person to make nitrogen ice cream was a scientist in 1901
  • How she was able to sneakily order her first tank of nitrogen
  • Started her ice cream business her senior year of college as part of an assignment for her entrepreneur class
  • Selling the ice cream at local farmers markets and pop-up locations
  • Building a customer base
  • Winning a few business pitch competitions through her school and using her winnings to buy more equipment
  • Networking with competition judges to earn investments for her soon-to-be business
  • Learning how to use your connections to get advice and support on whatever you’re working on
  • Advice can sometimes be more valuable than money
  • Starting small and starting cheap
  • Being part of WIN Lab
  • Origin of Lulu’s name from Luisa’s childhood
  • Adopting a cow from the local farm where Lulu’s gets their milk and cream and naming her Lulu
  • Moving back to Miami at the start of the big entrepreneurial movement
  • How Miami is still building its new entrepreneurial infrastructure
  • Colleges and universities playing a big role in local entrepreneurship
  • Fixing Miami’s transportation issues to make the city more connected
  • Teaching financial literacy as party of Lulu’s employment program
  • Being driven by your customers and employees
  • The future of Lulu’s Ice Cream:
    • Bring the cleanest and highest quality ice cream to all customers…regardless of growth