Customer Engagement

From Facebook to football: one CEO’s journey to Super Bowl 50

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Logo_Classic Final with Kraft_3 inchWhen Vistage member Becky Sunseri began Tin Pot Creamery in 2012 as an ice cream of the month club, she had no idea that it would lead her to Levi’s Stadium during Super Bowl 50. Come this Sunday, Becky’s flavors will be on display in San Francisco as the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers take the field.

Growing up in the Midwest, Becky found herself naturally drawn to ice cream when she was young and her passion led her to develop her first ice cream menu at 15 years old. Even though she branched out into nutritional science and food marketing while in college, she always found herself coming back to her first love, whipping up unique ice cream flavors in her kitchen.

Moving to San Francisco launched a new chapter in Becky’s life, one that included pastry school and a job at Facebook, where she prepared hundreds of desserts in an incredibly fast-paced environment. It wasn’t long before she realized that her passion and excitement for the art of artisanal ice cream could be turned into a lucrative business.

Tin Pot Creamery started small in 2012 with the ice cream of the month club, quickly followed by storefronts in Palo Alto (2013) and Los Altos (2014).

The company was doing so well that after running out of room in the shops, Tin Pot Creamery opened its first production space last December, which is now where all of their ice cream, sauces, toppings and baked goods are handmade in 2.5-gallon batches.

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Becky has always been incredibly vigilant regarding what’s added to her ice cream and only chooses the finest ingredients. Whereas some brands use store-bought chocolate chips, for instance, Tin Pot makes those chips themselves, so they can control the taste, consistency, melt-time—even the shape. Staying away from artificial flavoring and color, Becky wants her ice cream to be “an indulgence, but one that you can feel good about.”

Many ice cream brands churn lots of air into the dessert, so thepints (1) consumer is actually paying for less than they think. Alternatively, Becky specifically uses a gelato machine to give a slow, soft churn that doesn’t result in as much air. “We have about half as much air as you typically find, even in super premium ice cream, so you’re getting more product and…it really is a nice luxurious sort of texture.” Customers are also constantly surprised by the seasonally changing menu, which features such flavors as Cinnamon Snickerdoodle and Baked Apple Sorbet.

Though it may be priced a little higher than what’s sold in grocery stores, you’re paying for quality and taste. “We are at a higher price point, but…you can get a scoop of ice cream for under $4 and it’s really good quality and you’re getting real food. Everything that we’re making is being put into this ice cream by hand. We’re really, truly small batch. I would rather charge what it actually costs to make something like this and make it right.”

With so much success, it comes as no surprise that Becky turned to Vistage for some help. “As a new business owner…I was feeling this intense need for not only support, but also accountability, because I have a lot of people that rely on me. I also need to make sure that I’ve got some people in my corner that I feel like will be really honest with me and help me with strategy.”

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Immediately after her very first conversation with Vistage Chair John Adams, Becky was able to take a wealth of new knowledge to her team of managers. “Every time I talk to [John], I feel like I get something good that I can pass along. I feel like I’m a better leader and I’m more on top of my business. I’m doing things in a smarter way.” With Vistage on her side, she has been able to move forward with even bigger projects, taking the right risks and meeting challenges head-on.

And how did that Super Bowl opportunity come about? Last year before football season began, Paraag Marathe, the president of the San Francisco 49ers, asked Becky if she would be interested niners_stadiumin having a spot at Levi’s Stadium. The new opportunity was made even more exciting when Levi’s was chosen to host Super Bowl 50. “We’re going to be serving at the Super Bowl, how can we use this as a marketing opportunity? What we can do is make really great ice cream and serve it in cups that say ‘Tin Pot Creamery,’ and have our brand there and a presence at the Super Bowl.”

Come February 7, Tin Pot Creamery will be at the game to serve several of their flavors, plus a new mint chocolate chip/cookies and cream flavor. While fans will be rooting for one of the competing teams, Becky just wants the Super Bowl to be full of action: “I want it to be a really good game and I want to see a Tin Pot cup in the crowd!”

Category : Customer Engagement

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

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