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From Bike to Business: The Inspiring Journey of Katherine O’Brien, the Ice Cream Bike Lady

by Alice

In 2014, Katherine O’Brien had a simple yet transformative idea that would alter the course of her life. While biking to her corporate job in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor amidst a sea of commuters and tourists, she couldn’t shake the thought: “I bet people would buy a ton of ice cream on a hot summer day.”

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Armed with determination and entrepreneurial spirit, O’Brien embarked on her venture, acquiring a pink bike outfitted with a freezer to hold her homemade ice cream. After perfecting the recipe for her signature ice cream sandwiches – she insists the secret lies in the cookie – she launched the Cream Cruiser, setting out to sell her delectable treats.

The initial summer of 2015 saw O’Brien rake in $25,000 from selling homemade ice cream sandwiches at a local farmers’ market. Buoyed by her success, the following summer witnessed a doubling of revenue, signaling the rapid growth of her fledgling business.

What began as a weekend hobby soon evolved into a thriving enterprise, earning O’Brien the moniker of the Ice Cream Bike Lady. The Cream Cruiser has since catered over 700 events and sold over 160,000 ice cream sandwiches, amassing a total product sales figure of $1.6 million with minimal overhead – just a few employees, two bikes, and one cart.

With an initial investment of less than $10,000, O’Brien saw her business flourish, expanding into catering weddings and other events. While a brief foray into the wholesale business ensued, the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a refocus on catering and selling ice cream from her bike.

Documenting her entrepreneurial journey on Instagram under the handle @icecreambikelady, O’Brien began coaching clients interested in starting their own bike businesses. This led to the creation of Bike Business University, a self-paced course designed to guide aspiring entrepreneurs in building their own bike-based ventures in approximately four months.

For $874, students of Bike Business University gain access to a wealth of resources including training videos, budgeting tools, product development assistance, and personal support from O’Brien herself.

As the community around Bike Business University continues to thrive, entrepreneurs connect and share their experiences through monthly Zoom meetings and private Facebook groups.

Between catering and Bike Business University, O’Brien consistently generates a monthly income of at least $25,000. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? “Start before you’re ready,” she emphasizes. “Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and trust yourself to figure it out.”

Since her fateful commute in 2014, O’Brien’s initial idea has blossomed into a testament to the power of perseverance and creativity. Looking ahead, she plans to expand her e-commerce business and introduce new products for nationwide shipping, including gourmet-flavored Freezie Pops recently added to her online store.

For O’Brien, running the Ice Cream Bike business isn’t just a job – it’s the most fulfilling and enjoyable pursuit imaginable.

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