Yale Entrepreneur’s Cool Summer Business: An Ice Cream Boat

Fun and inspiring story of Jake Viola, a Yale undergraduate, who launched a business selling ice-cream from a boat to summer vacationers on Little Sebago Lake in Maine.  View Map

Yes, basically, the Good Humour Man on water. The story by Ray Routhier highlights the creativity of students and the role that family members can play in supporting entrepreneurs.

Viola, 19, of South Portland, has been selling ice cream from a pontoon boat on Little Sebago all summer long, calling his business Jake’s on the Lake. His family has a one-bedroom camp on Lyons Point, so he decided it would be a great launching point for an ice cream boat business.

His parents let him sell the family speedboat, and he used the money to buy a $3,500 pontoon boat, plus a freezer. He also printed business cards, which he hands out so people can call for special deliveries or party appearances. A family once asked him to come to their lobster bake, with more than 60 guests, and sell his ice cream.

He painted a big “ice cream” sign on the side of his boat, and now cruises the lake daily while blaring music from his sound system, including the ice cream truck standard “The Entertainer,” but with a hip-hop beat.

It didn’t take him long to develop a slew of regular customers along the shores of Little Sebago, which is densely populated with camps and homes. Viola had been to Lefebvre’s often enough that as soon as we landed, the family’s black Labrador retriever hopped aboard, apparently knowing full well that Viola had Frosty Paws, a frozen dog treat made by Purina.

The article notes that Jake does not want to major in business. (We have highlighted Yale entrepreneurs in the past).

Also interesting in this article are the comments. Many people support Jake, but there are a rare few, filled with spite that offer misdirected and blistering criticism towards Jake, his customers, Walmart, and any one else near Jake’s wake. Strange.

Either way, enjoy the article by Ray Routhier from the Portland Press Herald.

Writer Ray Routhier pilots Jake's on the Lake ice cream boat as Jake provides guidance on H2O ice cream delivery.

Yale Entrepreneur’s Summer Business Land’s Big Time

4 thoughts on “Yale Entrepreneur’s Cool Summer Business: An Ice Cream Boat

  1. Murph

    The negativity just shows the ignorance of those who express it. And on the up side, it’ll help Jake prepare for a walk into politics as it will only get uglier there. He did a great job as I was one who had the pleasure of seeing him regularly selling his goods – sometimes at the end of my dock. He’s a good kid, he’ll do well.

  2. I love this idea. Being a young entrepreneur and former wakeboarding instructor I couldn’t NOT love anything that brings business to the water!

    That being said I really love that this kid took a chance on a unique business. I always try to be a trail-blazer in the type of businesses I pursue because I believe those people are the ones who are really going to make good money and do something they enjoy.
    I might even write something on my site about it.

    Great post!

  3. Norma Wilkinson

    Hi Jake!
    Great job – fun & very clever!! You’re a fantastic role model and I wish you the best, always! Kids will grow up and tell their kids and grandkids about the cool ice cream boat on their lake.
    -Norma Wilkinson

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