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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gelato biz has alums in thick of success

    UA alumni Stephen Ochoa, left, and Jeff Kaiserman are co-owners of gelato chains Frost. They run and manage their two stores in town.
    UA alumni Stephen Ochoa, left, and Jeff Kaiserman are co-owners of gelato chains Frost. They run and manage their two stores in town.

    Two UA alumni are making a name for themselves with a Northwest gelato shop that could branch into a nationwide chain. They’ve received an award from the Eller College of Management for their efforts.

    Jeffrey Kaiserman and Steven Ochoa, who graduated in 2003, opened Frost, 7131 N. Oracle Road, in the Casas Adobes Plaza in May 2005.

    It quickly caught on, and the duo opened its second store on Nov. 3 as the anchor shop in the Tanque Verde shopping plaza. More than 1,000 customers stopped by on the opening weekend.

    “”Our ultimate goal with the second location is to solidify that we’re not just a fluke,”” Ochoa said.

    For their outstanding achievement, the Eller College named the grad students the first recipients of the Emergent Entrepreneurs Award, in 2006.

    A friend and mentor to the duo, Eller dean Paul Portney attributed their success to their risk-taking strategies. While hundreds of UA grads start businesses each year, he said, only a few survive.

    “”They are good enough businessmen to pull it off and have room to expand,”” Portney said. “”(Eller) can give you skills, but unless you have that spark, you’re not going to be successful.””

    That “”spark,”” he said, consists of a willingness to take chances and follow up with hard work.

    “”You have to be willing to work like mad, and these guys do,”” Portney said. “”I can’t tell you how many times they’ve been there late at night making sure it works.””

    The Tanque Verde location, on the East Side, is the only store in the plaza, and is doing better than its Oracle counterpart, Kaiserman said.

    “”Five or six times a day, people say, ‘You don’t know how excited I am to be here. We’ve been waiting forever,’ “” he said.

    As customers pour in, Kaiserman and Ochoa have started negotiations on a lease in the Foothills for a third location. The store could be poised to franchise nationally within 18 to 24 months, Ochoa said.

    “”Those goals that seem distant are getting closer and closer,”” Ochoa said.

    But even successful entrepreneurial students like Ochoa and Kaiserman are not immune to self-doubt.

    “”Paul once asked me if I ever get nervous,”” Kaiserman said. “”Of course, there’s that doubt about whether or not things will work. No matter how well you’re doing, you always have that in the back of your mind or else your competition is going to creep up on you. We’re very confident that we can go into any shopping center and we can turn it around.””

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