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Springfield, MO

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Photo provided by SNO-BALLZ LLC
Photo provided by SNO-BALLZ LLC

Startup Corner: Courtney McCurdy, Sno-Ballz LLC

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Minimally viable product …
Hawaiian-style shaved ice. Unlike snow cones, which are made with crushed ice and a conservative pouring of syrup, Sno-Ballz are made with shaved ice, giving them a fluffy, snow-like texture. They are also doused with more syrup than a traditional snow cone, and it’s absorbed by the finely powdered ice. Our flavors come directly from Hawaii.

Problem solving …
I started this business with the idea of my children, Jack and Zeda, running it. I own a Farmers Insurance Agency, and I had the perfect location to put Sno-Ballz. I was close enough to help them if they needed me. We are 100 percent operated by local kids, ages 13-18. I am the only adult involved. We have three or four kids who have worked every season and are now going away to college. I’ve wanted to inspire them to be entrepreneurs, teach them about hard work and hiring, firing, ordering, etc. All the kids are paid hourly and keep all the tips earned on their shifts. I really feel like the world undervalues our youth, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to shine and prove they are valuable employees and have the ability to run a successful business.

Seed money …
We started with $5,000 and a lot of help from my father and brother. We give most of our profits back to local charities, schools, donations to kids programs, etc. We just simply want to support and encourage kids to work hard, think outside the box and take chances.

Hurdles overcome …
I did have a lot of mentoring to do, as well as adapting to the kids’ schedules with school and sports.

Next phase …
We are continuing to add to the community events we do with our travel trailer, Baby Ballz and continually adding events and fun things for kids to do. We’re creating a fun, safe place parents can hang out with their kids.

Pivot …
Now that Zeda has turned 18, I will be gifting the business over to her and she will be 100 percent in charge in the coming seasons.

Biggest mistake …
With no experience in the food industry, I thought it would be easy. I didn’t realize the amount of time and effort it would take to make it a success. Many things I could simply do, but I wanted the kids to learn by doing it themselves.

Best/worst advice received …
I was told early on that I was crazy for opening a business for kids, that they would never be responsible to run it, and they have proved everyone wrong.

Greatest need …
Warm, sunny days to provide the best shaved ice in the Ozarks!

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