- 2023 Franchise 500 Rank
#47 Ranked #73 last year
- Initial investment
$150K - $189K
- Units as of 2023
1,512 15.9% over 3 years
As a child, hearing the chime of the local ice cream truck was a source of pure delight. The anticipation of running down the street and selecting a flavor from the colorful menu was an unforgettable experience.
You can regain some of that childhood enjoyment and start a thriving business by investing in a Kona Ice Franchise.
What is Kona Ice?
Started in 2007 by Tony Lamb, Kona Ice has its corporate headquarters in Florence, Kentucky. Shaved ice happens when ice runs over a blade and is finely shaved. It’s different from chunk, crushed or cubed ice – and not the ice you typically find in a slushie.
Shaving ice allows the flavors to better soak into the ice, providing the customer with the best taste and texture experience. With fruit as the first ingredient, Kona Ice is Smart Snack approved according to the USDA’s standards, making it a perfect, healthy and delicious treat.
How do you start a Kona Ice franchise?
When you become a Kona Ice franchise owner, the startup is quick and easy.
Starting this mobile franchise doesn’t take years. Once you decide to own your own business, you will be contacted by a corporate support team member and enrolled in a three-day, all-expenses-paid Kona Kollege training program where you will receive hands-on training.
Related: Top 15 Home-Based and Mobile Franchises 2023 | Entrepreneur
To be considered, you must have a net worth of at least $50,000 and liquid capital of at least $30,000.
What is the startup cost for a Kona Ice franchise?
This business opportunity involves a minimal initial investment, and advertising costs are kept low with the help of social media. You don't need to take out a second mortgage on any real estate you own or dip into your children’s education savings.
The fact that this is a mobile franchise, which doesn’t require an actual physical store location, provides for a simple business model, helps maintain a low overhead and allows you to bring the entertainment right to your customers for a one-of-a-kind experience.
The initial franchise fee is approximately $15,000, with a total investment including all the necessary equipment and inventory ranging between $150,000 to $190,000.
The royalty fees are as follows:
- Year one to two – $3,000.
- Years three to six – $3,500.
- Years seven to 10 – $4,000.
Does Kona Ice offer franchisees protected territory?
When you sign a Franchise Agreement with Kona Ice, the franchisor usually allows only one license for any area with a population of up to 100,000 people.
This guarantees exclusive rights to a specific area to run their day-to-day operations and helps aid in their success.
Related: Exclusively Yours - Protected Franchise Territories - Entrepreneur.com
What are the vehicle options for Kona Ice franchises?
A few different vehicle options exist when you start a Kona Ice Franchise, ranging from large trucks to self-contained trailers.
The Kona Entertainment Vehicle (KEV)
When you open a Kona Ice franchise, one of your vehicle options is the Kona Entertainment Vehicle (KEV). There is also the KEV 2.0, a slightly smaller version of the same vehicle.
These aren’t just any ordinary shaved ice trucks; these trucks are loaded with fun features, from the bright, colorful decals to the head-turning chrome wheels.
They also have a top-notch sound system, allowing you to play tropical steel drum music to transport customers to a warm, tropical getaway while they enjoy their delicious shaved ice treat.
The Kona Mini
The Kona Mini comes into play when the KEV is too large for a particular venue. This adorable little truck has all the same amenities as the KEV in a more compact size.
This allows you to access locations unavailable to the KEV, including:
- Sporting events
- Indoor venues
This flexibility is partially responsible for the high degree of franchisee satisfaction among Kona Ice franchisees, as you can conduct business virtually wherever you desire.
The Kona Kiosk is the best option when the KEV is too large, but the Kona Mini is too small. With its smaller size and unique pop-up top, the Kona Kiosk can serve hundreds of customers per hour and has 10 flavor options.
The Kona Trailer
The Kona Trailer has all the same features as the KEV, minus the truck body.
This option is perfect for more permanent venues such as zoos, amusement parks and campgrounds. It has the same customer capacity as the KEV but a much smaller price tag.
What is the Flavorwave experience?
This is no run-of-the-mill shaved ice truck or standard food truck business. When you pull up, one of your best-selling features is the patented Flavorwave.
The customer simply orders from the truck window and then goes to the self-serve station to choose however many flavors they want. This truly sets any Kona ice truck apart from all the other food franchise opportunities out there.
What are the different size options for Kona Ice products?
There are numerous shaved ice sizes and options available to the customer. Whether at a large venue or a smaller gathering, there is a size and option to fit every customer's needs.
- Kiddie: The smallest size available comes with 9 ounces of shaved ice, perfect for children or anyone looking to try Kona Ice for the first time.
- Klassic: With 12 ounces of shaved ice, this is the perfect size for nearly everyone. It gives the customer enough room to try as many flavors as they desire.
- King: This larger size comes with 16 ounces of shaved ice.
- Kowabunga: This is the largest size, with 22 ounces of shaved ice.
- Color-Changing: This color-changing cup holds 17 ounces of delicious shaved ice.
- Kollectable: The Kollectable cup changes every season and is a great collector’s item. It comes with 22 ounces of shaved ice.
What fundraisers does Kona Ice Conduct?
Since opening in 2007, Kona Ice has raised more than $100 million for local communities and organizations.
Related: Fundraising - Entrepreneur
With fundraising options ranging from pre-paid Kona Cards to donating a portion of their sales to different organizations, Kona Ice loves giving back to their communities.
Just a few of the numerous organizations they fundraise for are:
- Local Sports Teams.
- Band Programs.
Cans for Kona
This fundraising initiative helps raise money for schools by having a canned food drive.
Kona Days is one of the most accessible fundraising options available. Serving up to 500 kids per hour, with the option to hold this fundraiser every month or yearly, this is a great option to raise money for worthwhile events.
If your local sports team needs to raise money for new jerseys or to travel to an out-of-town game, then the Team Up fundraiser is for you.
Prepaid Kona Cards
Another excellent fundraising option is Kona Cards. These prepaid cards give $12 worth of Kona Ice for just $10. It’s so simple and convenient that it is the perfect fundraising option.
Testimonials From Kona Ice franchisees
Franchisees had the following to say regarding their franchise experience with Kona Ice:
- 98% of franchisees “agree” or “strongly agree” that they respect their franchisor.
- 99% of franchisees said they are likely to invest in Kona Ice again and would recommend opening a franchise to others.
- 98% of franchisees said they enjoy being part of the organization and operating their business.
Kona Ice is the ideal franchise to look into if you are looking at getting into a business that puts smiles on people's faces, has unlimited venue location options and prides itself on giving back.
If you want to learn more about Kona Ice or other franchise opportunities, check out Entrepreneur’s other articles for more information.
About Kona Ice
- Franchising Since
- 2008 (2023-2008 years)
- # of employees at HQ
- Where seeking
This company is offering new franchisees in the following US states: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming
This company is offering new franchisees in the following international regions: Canada, Mexico
- # of Units
- 1,512 (as of 2023)
Information for Franchisees
Here's what you need to know if you're interested in opening a Kona Ice franchise.
Financial Requirements & Ongoing Fees
Here's what you can expect to spend to start the business and what ongoing fees the franchisor charges throughout the life of the business.
- Initial Franchise Fee
Definition: The initial fee paid to a franchisor to join their system
What you need to know: Found in Item 5 of the FDD, this may be a flat fee, or may vary based on territory size, experience, or other factors.The franchise fee is an up-front (one-time) cost that a new franchisee pays to the franchisor. This fee is usually due at the signing of the franchise agreement and covers the right to use the franchisor's trademarks, name, and related business systems.
- Initial Investment
- $149,995 - $189,300
Definition: The total amount necessary to begin operation of the franchise
What you need to know: The initial investment includes the franchise fee, along with other startup expenses such as real estate, equipment, supplies, business licenses, and working capital. This is outlined in a chart in Item 7 of the FDD, showing a range of possible costs from low to high.
- Net Worth Requirement
Definition: The minimum net worth you must have in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company
What you need to know: Net worth is the value of a person's assets minus liabilities. Assets include cash, stocks, retirement accounts, and real estate. Liabilities include items like mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt.
- Cash Requirement
Definition: The minimum liquid capital you must have available in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company.
- Royalty Fee
Definition: A ongoing fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis.
What you need to know: Most franchisors require franchisees to pay an ongoing royalty fee, which is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD. This fee is typically a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales, but may also be a flat weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
- Ad Royalty Fee
Definition: An going fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis to support advertising or marketing efforts.
What you need to know: This may also be called advertising fee, marketing fee, brand fund fee, and more, but the basic purpose is the same-- to support promotion of the brand systemwide. As with the royalty fee, it is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD, and can be a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales or a weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
- Term of Agreement
- 10 years
Definition: The length of time your franchise agreement will last.
What you need to know: Franchise terms are typically anywhere from 5 to 20 years in length, but are sometimes instead dependent on factors such as the term of your lease. Once your term is up, you may have the option to renew your agreement, typically for a smaller fee than the original franchise fee.
- Is franchise term renewable?
Some franchisors offer in-house financing, while others have relationships with third-party financing sources to which they refer qualified franchisees.
- Third Party Financing
- Kona Ice has relationships with third-party sources which offer financing to cover the following: franchise fee, startup costs, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, payroll
Training & Support Offered
Franchisors offer initial training programs and a variety of ongoing support options to help franchisees run their businesses.
- Classroom Training
- 30 hours
- Ongoing Support
NewsletterMeetings & ConventionsGrand OpeningSecurity & Safety ProceduresLease NegotiationField OperationsProprietary SoftwareFranchisee Intranet Platform
- Marketing Support
Co-op AdvertisingAd TemplatesNational MediaRegional AdvertisingSocial MediaSEOWebsite DevelopmentEmail Marketing
Additional details about running this franchise.
- Is absentee ownership allowed?
- Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit?
Definition: The business can be run from your home and/or a vehicle, and it is not necessary to have a retail facility, office space, or warehouse.
- Can this franchise be run part time?
Definition: This business can be run by the owner on a part-time basis (less than 40 hours per week) and/or as a side business; it is not necessary for the business to be open/run full-time.
- Are exclusive territories available?
Definition: An exclusive territory is a fixed area in which you are given the right to operate and in which no other units of the same franchise may be opened.
What you need to know: Territory size may be based on factors such as radius, population size, zip codes, and more. Details can be found in Item 12 of the FDD.
Interested in ownership opportunities like Kona Ice? Request a free consultation with a Franchise Advisor now.
Franchise 500 Ranking History
Compare where Kona Ice landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.
Curious to know where Kona Ice ranked on other franchise lists? Find out below.
Ranked #1 in Miscellaneous Frozen Desserts in 2022
These are the companies that not only ranked in this year’s highly competitive Franchise 500, but ranked #1 in their respective industry categories.
Ranked #47 in 2023
Entrepreneur’s 44th annual Franchise 500® ranking shines a light on the unique challenges and changes that have shaped the franchise industry over the last year—and how franchisors have adapted and evolved to meet them.
Ranked #31 in 2023
Meet the companies that are leveraging their ability to scale fast across the U.S. and Canada in Entrepreneur's annual fastest-growing franchises ranking.
Ranked #8 in 2023
Check out the top franchises that offer you the freedom of working from home or on-the-go.
Ranked #114 in 2023
If you're interested in an opportunity with international appeal, start your search with our ranking of the top franchises seeking to expand outside the U.S.
Ranked #1 in Miscellaneous Frozen Desserts in 2022
Our annual list of the top restaurant and other food franchises, divided up by category, is the perfect place to start if you’re craving a food-based business opportunity.
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