Solo Gelato and Barry Callebaut join forces to disrupt ice cream market with capsule innovation


11 Dec 2017 --- Israeli-based startup Solo Gelato has been developing a Nespresso-style capsule system that makes fresh ice cream in an instant – and Barry Callebaut has been helping to bring this goal to fruition.

Led by former high tech entrepreneur and gelato expert, Barak Beth-Halachmi, Solo Gelato plans to disrupt the ice cream industry with this innovation. Barry Callebaut’s partnership with Solo Gelato began through mutual involvement with MassChallenge – a global startup accelerator that offers up to US$2m in equity-free funding for high-impact startups each year. 

Italian-inspired disruptive technology
It was during his gastronomy studies in Parma, Italy, that Beth-Halachmi first came up with the idea. Inspired by his love of gelato and with a background in high tech, he saw an opportunity to disrupt an industry that has remained largely unchanged for the last 150 years.

By the time he applied to join MassChallenge, Solo Gelato had grown to a team of five with an advanced version of their prototype well on the way to completion.

Prototype machine
Barry Callebaut joined MassChallenge as a founding member of their Swiss branch in 2016, alongside other big industry names such as Nestlé and Givaudan.

Massimo Selmo, Head of Global Sourcing, initiated Barry Callebaut’s involvement with MassChallenge.

“MassChallenge not only gives us access to new product ideas and innovative solutions we might never be able to create in-house, we get to know a talented pool of bright young people with an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. 

In addition to funds, the organization supports startups by providing free office space, mentoring from industry experts and unparalleled access to corporate partners. The aim is to help high-potential young businesses define their future and maximize their impact.

“MassChallenge is a unique opportunity for us to tap into open innovation and be the first to learn about potentially disruptive ideas for our industry,” said Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO Barry Callebaut.

Meaningful partnerships with industry leaders
Beth-Halachmi was attracted to MassChallenge by the prospect of meaningful partnerships with big industry players - something not always readily available to small, young businesses.

Working with the world’s largest chocolate company has been an excellent opportunity for the Solo Gelato team to develop their product and business model, adds Beth-Halachmi, and the huge wealth of resources and expertise available is something he refers to as “startup Disneyland.”

Solo Gelato’s product does not directly compete with any of Barry Callebaut’s offerings and opens up avenues of business that might not otherwise have been considered.

Through MassChallenge, Solo Gelato has also benefited hugely from mentorship from Nestlé and Givaudan. However, it is their partnership with Barry Callebaut that has proved the most productive.

Since the partnership began last year, the Solo Gelato team have attended the Chocolate Academy in Wieze, Belgium where they learned about the art of chocolate making and working with Barry Callebaut products. This training was important to ensure the excellence of Solo Gelato’s chocolate products. 

Next, they plan to attend the Chocolate Academy in Milan for more gelato-focused training and product development.

Fabrizio Di Marzio, Barry Callebaut’s Gelato Business Development Manager, and Freek van der Knaap, Vice President Gourmet Western Europe Business Unit, have also visited Solo Gelato’s headquarters in Israel.

They tested whether the recently launched Callebaut Chocogelato mixes could work in the Solo Gelato capsules. The testing was successful and produced wonderfully fresh, great tasting chocolate gelato, according to Barry Callebaut. 

2018 and beyond
2018 looks set to be a big year for Solo Gelato and its continued partnership with Barry Callebaut. The first half of the year will be spent planning the details of their product launch.

Following an intensive period of research and development to get their product right, Barak stresses the importance of a strong launch plan. This is where mentorship from Barry Callebaut colleagues is again invaluable with their extensive experience of bringing new products to market.

The second half of 2018 will be focused on executing the market launch plan and introducing the product to the world.

“It has been a long, hard journey, but our relationship with Barry Callebaut has been one of the most illuminating and fun parts of it,” says  Barak Beth-Halachmi, CEO Solo Gelato.

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