- 2024 Franchise 500 Rank
#39 Ranked #47 last year
- Initial investment
$167K - $212K
- Units as of 2023
1,665 27.6% 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.
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.
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
More from Kona Ice
Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in opening a Kona Ice franchise.
Have you ever wondered what the largest food truck company in the world looks like? Or how the largest food truck company in the world has ranked #1 in franchisee satisfaction by the Franchise Business Review 9 years in a row? It looks a little bit like this:
- A company of passionate, hardworking-employees dedicated to the Kona Ice brand day in and day out.
- A brand that is designed to be good, do good, for good.
- A business that supports and ranks #1 for culture, women, veterans, and more.
- A recession-proof business model that thrives during any economic season.
If you’ve dreamed of starting your own business and are looking to find an established company that’s fun, innovative, and dedicated to you, then look no further.
Tony Lamb founded Kona Ice in 2007, beginning to franchise the following year. The concept behind the shaved ice mobile truck is to provide the perfect texture of shaved ice in delicious flavors to parties, events, fundraisers, and any other location their ice trucks can reach.
There are over 1,500 Kona Ice franchises located throughout the United States to go along with multiple locations in Canada.
Why You May Want to Start a Kona Ice Franchise
Owning a Kona Ice franchise calls for a potential franchisee looking to run a business that will give them flexibility. With this franchise, you may get to dictate your working hours and enjoy the mobility and flexibility that comes with it. If you love to interact with people and have a fun, easy-going nature, then a Kona Ice franchise may be the right fit for you.
Opening a Kona Ice franchise may offer a more predictable outcome than investing in a completely new brand that could struggle to thrive in an already crowded and competitive industry.
Kona Ice has been ranked in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 many times since its inception. This ranking is based on an evaluation of more than 150 data points in the areas of costs and fees, size and growth, franchisee support, brand strength, and financial strength and stability.
What Might Make a Kona Ice Franchise a Good Choice?
It is crucial to note that opening a Kona Ice franchise may serve as an excellent opportunity for franchisees who may not qualify for other high-investment ventures. The franchisor claims that its startup figures are quite affordable, and they strive to make it easier for you by including a full setup Kona Ice truck that is NSF-approved.
Once approved for a Kona Ice franchise, new franchisees will receive a multi-day all-expenses-paid trip to the Kona Ice headquarters in Florence, Kentucky for an immersive training experience. At Kona Kollege, franchisees will learn the ins and outs of running a Kona Ice franchise. A typical franchise agreement runs for ten years. Franchisees may be allowed to renew their agreement if they meet the company's requirements.
How To Open a Kona Ice Franchise
Before making any financial commitment or signing an agreement, you must perform your due diligence and establish if this is the right opportunity for you. As part of your due diligence, you may want to speak to existing franchisees and ask the Kona Ice franchising team any questions you might have.
To be part of the Kona Ice team, you should make sure you're financially ready for an initial investment made up of a franchise fee and other startup costs. In addition, you should prepare yourself for ongoing fees that will include advertising, royalty, and potential renewal fees. Franchisees will also need to meet the company's set net worth and liquid capital requirements.
|2008 (16 years)
|# of employees at HQ
This company is offering new franchises throughout the US.
This company is offering new franchises in the following international regions: Canada, Mexico
|# of Units
|1,665 (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
|$167,115 - $212,100
Ad Royalty Fee
Term of Agreement
|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.
Meetings & Conventions
Security & Safety Procedures
Franchisee Intranet Platform
Additional details about running this franchise.
|Is absentee ownership allowed?
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit?
Can this franchise be run part time?
Are exclusive territories available?
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 2024
Best of the Best
Ranked #39 in 2024
Ranked #31 in 2023
Ranked #8 in 2023
Top Home-Based & Mobile Franchises
Ranked #114 in 2023
Top Global Franchises
Ranked #1 in Miscellaneous Frozen Desserts in 2022
Top Food Franchises
Ranked #85 in 2023
Top Brands for Multi-Unit Owners
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