The ice-cream man

Science, Humanities

Daniel Edler, founder of 49 Below Artisan Ice Cream. Photo: Tegan McMartin.

A UVic alumnus who recently made a bold life change

Name: Daniel Edler, founder of 49 Below Artisan Ice Cream

Age: Below 49... Just kidding, I'm 34.

Hometown: I was born in Linz, Austria and spent 14 years there, then moved to Victoria where I’ve lived ever since.

UVic degree and year: I received a BSc with a double major in Biology and Germanic Studies in 2006. (The Below 49 logo features the Giant Pacific octopus, a creature local to Victoria. It was in part inspired by my biology studies.)

What I used to do: In 2007, I took a job as a Metadata Analyst with the BC Government's Integrated Land Management Bureau. Over the next few years, I advanced to various jobs, ultimately ending up as a Senior Spatial Data Administrator with DataBC. Then I had the idea to get married, become a father and start an ice-cream business.

Why I did it: There are a several reasons why I made the switch. For one, I was no longer being challenged in my role. Every day ended up being more or less the same. I had no creative freedom, and I saw no opportunity to advance. I often walked through these mental exercises, one of which was fast forwarding 30 years. Would I be happy if I still did what I’m doing today? Would I be satisfied? In 2015, the answer was 'No.'

How I did it: 49 Below Ice Cream started with a very lean business plan and the decision to start things in stages. Start small, grow and invest back into the company. I had limited time and limited capital to invest, so starting small was key.

With that in mind, I decided to start the business as a subscription service. I could raise capital and invest it into the company on a monthly basis. Last year, we began selling a few of our staple flavours in grocery stores and at local markets. All the while, we did everything to keep our costs low. We share a commercial kitchen rather than renting space of our own. We advertise using social media. We deliver our own pints instead of having a distributor.

What I love about my new life: Starting your own business (especially in the food sector) is a time-consuming endeavour that requires you to get good at jumping through hoops. There are a lot of sleepless nights and early mornings, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m in control of what we do and when we do it, and it gives me the freedom to spend more time with my wife and children.

The other thing I love is when I’m wearing a 49 Below T- shirt and people come up and tell me that they have tasted 49 Below ice cream and they LOVE IT!

What I miss about my old life: My co-workers and the pay cheque.

One lesson learned: Don’t be scared to charge a premium price for a premium product. Making ice cream with seasonal and local ingredients in small batches comes with a cost and there is a reason why most mass-produced ice cream in grocery stores costs what it does.

One person who helped me: I have met so many wonderful people in the Victoria food scene that have been amazing. If I can only name one, I will go with my wife, Erin (BSc ’01). She has been nothing but supportive and a great sounding board for me. I couldn’t do it without her.

One trade secret: Don’t produce and distribute a flavour before having completed extensive R&D.

Where to find me: Sign up for our ice cream subscription at 49below.ca or follow us . Find our pints at Pepper’s Grocery and For Good Measure in Victoria—with more stores to come soon.

Photos

In this story

Keywords: alumni, business

People: Daniel Edler

Publication: The Torch


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