Newly minted Georgetown alumna Luisa Santos knew from an early age that she wanted to create something that she could grow on her own. “I’ve always wanted to be able to leave an impact on people and on the world,” the Miami native explained.
What she did not expect was that her love ice cream would lead to an opportunity to make that happen. “ I first discovered ice cream made with nitrogen when I went home for a visit,” she said. “It was amazing— the flavor and texture.” When she came back to the northeast, she was unable to find a similar product and a light bulb went off: she decided to create her own version, using only whole, natural ingredients.
“Food industries have spiraled out of control in the sense that a large portion of the food that is shipped around the world in large quantities has become very fake—either genetically modified or sweetened with high fructose corn syrup,” she said.
Her all-natural product has another distinct advantage. “It also tastes better,” laughed Santos.
Halfway through the fall semester of her senior year, she launched Lulu’s Nitrogen Ice Cream, hosting her ice cream pop-up shop at various events on and off campus and later hosting a weekly stand at the Georgetown Farmer’s Market.
Although she majored in political economy and not business, Santos said that if she weren’t a Hoya, she’s not sure this could have been a reality for her. Networking with other alumni small business owners through the Georgetown Scholarship Programtaught her many useful tips in registering, managing and marketing her business. “My family gives me wonderful support and are my biggest cheerleaders, but for concrete, business-related guidance, I have relied heavily on my Georgetown family, ” Santos said.
Still a budding new venture, Lulu’s has already had some great wins. In November, Santos won The Startup Hoya ChallengeRocket Pitch, an elevator pitch competition held as part of Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day. Teams are selected to present a two-minute business pitch to a panel of esteemed alumni, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs for a cash prize of $2,500. Most recently, Lulu’s fared well at the spring Hoya Challenge at this year’s Entreprelooza, winning Santos first place for a commercial track business, a People’s Choice Award and Student Entrepreneur of the Year.
Now that she has completed her undergraduate studies, Santos plans to spend her summer growing sales for Lulu’s by making agreements with local bakeries and coffee shops. “It will be like a Lulu’s shop within the other shops,” said Santos. “This way we get to test different neighborhoods out and start to get feedback about what works and what doesn’t before we open our own shop.”