Thursday, November 15, 2018
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Welcome to the NABI Blog. Our Blog is intended to inform, explain, clarify and raise awareness on current business topics and issues. Do you have a story you would like to share on our blog or be featured in our newsletter? Simply send an email and tell us what you want us to know. We want to hear about your success stories.

NABI Success Story: From Farmer’s Market Feature, To High-Volume Production Chelsey Tattrie

Yvonne Irnich established DaVinci Gelato two years ago. Since DaVinci’s humble beginnings at the St. Albert Farmer’s Market, the business has grown immensely. Their gelato is now featured in well-known franchises across Canada, including Famoso restaurants. Find out how Yvonne got started, gained traction, and expanded with the help of NABI business coaches! 

Yvonne Irnich of DaVinci Gelato was trained in gelato-making in Germany and Italy when she was just seventeen. “Back then,” Yvonne says, “there weren’t all these convenience products out there being used for gelato, like artificial flavours, premixes, and concentrates. My gelato is still made in the style I was taught, with all natural ingredients, and it will always be made that way.”

Yvonne decided to start DaVinci Gelato in 2015, during a period of restlessness. At the time, she was working with her husband in his construction business. When a disheartening case of arson occurred at one of their jobsites, Yvonne decided to take it as a sign and start making gelato again. 

At the heart of her concept was authenticity. She and her husband were used to the style of gelato in Germany and Italy that she had learned to make, and they were disappointed when they couldn’t find anything in a similar style in Alberta. She wanted to see if people would notice a difference in flavor when gelato was made with real, natural ingredients.  

She worked hard setting up her space and developing her flavours and recipes, but found herself hesitant to introduce her product to the market. So before she took the plunge, she contacted NABI. She liked the idea of having the support of a business incubator, because though she’d been an entrepreneur (alongside her husband) for well over thirty years, this was a new venture, and navigating the unknowns of business in Canada was new as well.  

Dar Schwanbeck was the one to finally motivate Yvonne to take the plunge and introduce her gelato products to St. Albert. She took a modified trailer to the St. Albert Farmer’s Market, and was amazing by the positive response. Once she had found her starting point, she moved on to a much bigger scope, focusing on getting DaVinci Gelato into restaurants. Her hope was that her gelato could help make a lasting final impression on guests that would bring them back to the restaurant for more. One of her greatest successes has been becoming the supplier for Famoso restaurants across Canada. If you’ve had dessert at Famoso recently, it’s likely that you’ve already sampled DaVinci’s products!

davincigelato_nabibbqAs she grew the business, Yvonne continued to lean on NABI for advice in four different areas of business development: product development, marketing, finance, and identifying a target market. The last, she says, is particularly important for any new venture, and really helped her gain focus and a sense of direction.

“I just want people to know that NABI was so helpful,” Yvonne says. “And really, the whole city of St. Albert. It’s a fantastic business community, and we are so happy to have the business located here and get the support. I still like to go to the Farmer’s Market myself when I can, because you just get that ‘wow’ factor when people try the gelato, and it’s so great to see.”

As their success grew, Yvonne’s family jumped in to lend a hand. Her husband made the shift from construction to help with the gelato business, and their son also got involved. 

For now, Yvonne is focused on amping up production rates, finding more franchises that want to dress up their dessert menus with something more authentic, and focusing on niche markets like vegan and liquor gelato, which have tested as being incredibly popular. At the Rocky Mountain Food & Wine Festival, people waited in line for hours to try the newly developed DaVinci liquor and wine gelato. 

 If you’d like to learn more about DaVinci Gelato, or try a sample (and you definitely do!), you can drop by a Famoso restaurant for dessert, stop in at the Farmer’s Market in St. Albert, or drop by Davinci’s location – at 12C Rayborn Crescent – to buy a pint (or two, or three). 

To find out how NABI can help grow your business and expand into new markets, contact us today at 780-460-1000, or drop into our newly opened Commons space. 

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Northern Alberta Business Incubator Society (NABI)

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Mission Centre 

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St. Albert, AB  T8N 1H6

Phone:   780.460.1000
Fax:        780.460.5074

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