True to Georgetown University’s Jesuit values, Luisa Santos, founder and creator of Lulu’s Ice Cream, imparted her wisdom with Georgetown students at the Innovo Workshop on Saturday, November 16th.
Luisa began the workshop by recounting her first taste of liquid nitrogen-made ice cream during a trip to Miami, prior to her senior year at Georgetown. Captivated by the concept, she conducted research upon her return, “not really thinking anything of it,” simply looking to satiate her unrelenting craving for the ice cream. Around the same time, Luisa was involved in Georgetown’s DC Reads with the annual Fall Fest fast approaching. Having volunteered her house as a location for tutee-Trick-or-Treating, she decided, in a spur of the moment decision, to serve them the nitrogen-made treat. With help from her fellow classmates, Luisa served around 150 students, utilizing her first tank of liquid nitrogen and a whole lot of ice cream base. This experience, though chaotic, marked the point at which Luisa realized the potential of her wild idea.
Describing her philosophy for business and for life, Luisa confesses that many may find it hard to grasp. Essentially, she commits to difficult goals, challenging herself to overcome obstacles and ultimately reach those goals. Although she admits that some people think her to be crazy in making such lofty commitments, by setting and achieving high goals, she has realized that she is capable of so much more than she originally thought possible.
According to Luisa, her journey has been an unpredictable progression of such challenges. However, many events in the development of Lulu’s Ice Cream have also been the result of happy accidents. For example, when Lulu’s Ice Cream was still in its beginning stages, Luisa hoped to participate in a local farmers’ market, which had already stopped receiving applications for the season. One of her friend’s husband’s mom happened to know the mangers, and put in a good word in case a spot opened up. Fortunately, a spot did open, and the managers asked Lulu’s to join. Luisa emphasized throughout her talk the importance of networking and reaching out to everyone you know.
As Luisa’s experience shows, relationships and forging a network of support are integral to the success of a startup. She advises those thinking about starting their own businesses to “take the relationships you have very seriously” but at the same time, to appeal to the person in everyone. For Luisa, “the best connections are those kept very personable—at the end of the day, we can crack a joke during a meeting.” In the midst of opening her flagship store in Miami, Luisa continues to set high goals for herself, and for Lulu’s.