Last spring, I met Curt Jones at St. Louis University’s Pitch and Catch Competition. Several decades ago Curt founded Dippin’ Dots and built the company up to a multi-million dollar business. However, due to a series of unfortunate events involving the 2008 recession and a lengthy and expensive patent lawsuit, he ended up selling the company. Now, he still owns a number of Dippin’ Dots franchises and is currently working on a new frozen coffee company involving similar scientific methods. When I met him in the spring, he expressed interest in potentially doing contract manufacturing work for The Waffle Cookie. Over the past half a year, we have kept in close contact through biweekly calls and frequent emails.
On Wednesday, he picked me up from the airport in St. Louis and we drove three hours south to Mounds, Illinois where we toured a contract manufacturing facility where we could produce waffle cookies. After seeing the facility, we drove an hour to Carbondale to meet with a group of graduate students in the business school at Southern IL University who are helping on the marketing side of things with Curt’s coffee business. After this meeting, we drove another two and half hours back up to St. Louis where he dropped me off at my hotel. In the car, I learned all about the successes and hardships that Dippin’ Dots faced over the years. Curt had a unique approach when building up the company. He chose to specifically implement the Dippin’ Dots kiosks into theme parks and zoos because he wanted to create a Dippin’ Dots experience that the customer would find memorable. He also talked about his appearance on Oprah’s show! Overall, I learned a lot just from spending so much time with such a successful food entrepreneur and food innovator.