Can one man find the meaning of life in a nondairy fruit snack? Perhaps.
Post-college, Luke Untermann ’11 and three surfing buddies living in Oahu posed the question “Why not be the next Jamba Juice of banana ice cream?” They bought a $2,000 truck from Craigslist after perfecting recipes in parents’ kitchens, named the business Ban’an, and debuted their dairy-free frozen fruit bowls in 2014.
After the food truck gained traction, the partners ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to open a brick-and-mortar store, and now have four small outposts. They are thinking big when they contemplate future expansions. “We definitely want to open a few more shops on Oahu in the next year or two, Maui in the next couple years, and possibly Australia and California one day.”
Behind their drive to succeed is a commitment to sustainability. They source nearly all their ingredients—from bananas and papayas to honey and chocolate—on the island, and give their food waste to a local pig farmer. For customers who bring their own bowl, Ban’an donates a dollar to a nonprofit on the island. It offers fundraising parties for nonprofits, too, donating 15 percent of profits.
In Hawaiian, “pono” means righteousness. “Living pono is extremely important to our mission as a company,” says Untermann, who is married to professional surfer Carissa Moore. “It’s what gives our business meaning and guides a lot of our business decisions. We are in the business of spreading good vibes. We just happen to sell banana ice cream.”