Meet the Founder: George T. Haymaker III of ReThink Ice Cream
George T. Haymaker III swapped his alcohol and drug habit for an ice cream addiction. While that already sounds like a happy ending, it was really just the start of George’s incredible story.
The sugar helped George combat other cravings, but it wasn’t ideal for his long-term health. Meanwhile, the so-called substitutes he tried were more chalky than creamy. Needing something better than “better-for-you,” George took the mixer into his own hands.
ReThink is rich and decadent with less carbs, calories, and sugar than regular ice cream. Made with A2/A2 dairy and a modest amount of sugar, George says it can even fit into pre-diabetic or low-lactose diets.
Recently, we caught up with George to learn more about his journey and hear his advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start ReThink Ice Cream?
ReThink was created out of my addiction to pain pills and alcohol. After transferring addictions to sugar — particularly ice cream — I realized I needed to eat healthier. After looking for a healthier version that still tasted great, and not finding one, I decided to make his own and share it with others.
Our brand’s mission is to create resources to help others, especially those who have difficulty advocating for themselves or face certain stigmas. Addiction, mental health, animals, and children are among the causes we support at ReThink.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
Many! And we’re still facing obstacles to this day. Building a brand is hard and there are lots of challenges along the way. Sometimes, we’re the cause of those obstacles. Other times, they’re out of our control, and those challenges are even more difficult.
For starters, raising investment capital is tough, especially in the early stages when the business doesn’t have much of a track record. We also had to evolve our product and packaging significantly along the way, and we continue to do so. How do you stand out from the competition? What product positioning will capture the imagination of the consumer and develop momentum? We continue to tweak and pivot as we try to thread the needle.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Try and get your product and packaging right, before you go to market. Trying to make significant changes after launching is expensive and difficult.
Focus on a limited geographical area to prove out and hone your strategy. Going too fast in terms of geographical expansion, before you develop sales momentum and work out all the kinks, is a mistake.
Before you expand, make sure you have the necessary capital. It’s a lonely existence and, sometimes, you may be the only person that believes in what you are doing. Get used to hearing the word “no” a lot, especially from investors. Be prepared to pivot quickly if things are not working, otherwise you’ll run the business into the ground.
04What’s on the horizon for ReThink Ice Cream?
Continuing to build out the Western region and build sales velocity. Our product is very good and, now, we have the packaging to match. At the same time, we’re working to improve our product even more with an even lower-carb recipe.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Building the ReThink brand is my entire focus. I love the challenge and the process. I have dedicated the rest of my life to helping others. Selfishly, it makes me feel good about myself. The better I feel about myself, the sturdier my foundation is in recovery.
It took me a while, but it has become clear to me — achieving joy and serenity in life comes from being a harmonious and contributing citizen of the world.