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Small Business – September 18, 2020

Lucy’s Lab Creamery Gives UH Students Real Entrepreneurial Experience

Peter Hessler (Left) is the owner of Pono Potions, a local coffee syrup business, and Nathan Bek (Right) is the CEO of Lucy’s Lab, a local ice cream shop. Both businesses operate out of the Lucy’s Lab Creamery Kitchen where this photo was taken. Masks were not mandated for kitchen staff at the time that this photo was taken.

The ice cream store at Ward Village has provided real-world learning since 2014

Lucy’s Lab Creamery is a store in Ward Village’s South Shore Market that provides a case study and launching pad for entrepreneurial education at UH Mānoa.

Students get hands-on experiences with a real business, learn about business finances and the many other responsibilities of running a company, and can even experiment with new culinary creations.

Lee Wang, a graduate of UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business, started LLC in 2014 with the goal of melding entrepreneurial education and social good, and this year transferred ownership to an organization at UH Mānoa called Hawai‘i Student Entrepreneurs.

This immersive internship program allows students to experience firsthand the successes and failures of a real community business. “It’s as involved as students want to get involved,” says Lee. “While students have the opportunity to learn the marketing, finance and management part of the business, they also have access to the food science, process and creation of the ice cream – even down to the scooping.”

Photos courtesy of Lucy’s Lab

LLC also provides a commercial kitchen where student entrepreneurs can pursue other business endeavors, like Pono Potions, the lab’s first student-partnered business.

Pono Potions is owned by Peter Hessler, a senior at UH Mānoa and one of the current student managers at Lucy’s Lab. The business specializes in locally sourced latte and cocktail syrups, and Hessler uses LLC’s commercial kitchen to test products and invent special ice cream toppings.

“This program is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between entrepreneurial concept and application,” says Lee. “While internship programs exist and allow students the opportunity to learn specific skill sets, our hope is to create an opportunity for students to learn holistic entrepreneurship while at the same time, having the opportunity to apply it to their own current endeavors.”

Lucy’s Lab has donated part of its proceeds to a different cancer charity each year and Hawai‘i Student Entrepreneurs plans to continue those donations. But another goal is to channel part of the profits towards funding student organizations and student-run partner businesses.

Nathan Bek, student CEO of Lucy’s Lab Creamery, says, “We are hoping that, by providing a chance for students to make real business decisions in Hawai‘i, we can better prepare them for the many decisions they’ll inevitably need to make down the road in their own ventures.”

The LLC team hopes the student entrepreneurs will stay in Hawai‘i, develop their businesses here and contribute to the local economy. Hessler says it is “vital for the business community in Hawai‘i to provide opportunities and mentorship for emerging entrepreneurs so we are able to create a thriving future economy for our state.”

Says Bek: “I have to say my favorite ice cream is the Coffee and Donuts with the Pono Crunch topping. It’s special because I watched it become a product, and even though I had a small part in its actual creation, it’s awesome to witness the first ice-cream invention that brings HSE, Lucy’s Lab and Pono Potions all together. It’s a little taste of what’s to come.”

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