Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield

Shannon Cassidy

The Entrepreneurs

Ben Cohen was born on March 18, 1951 and his business partner/childhood best friend Jerry Greenfield was born just four days before him on March 14, 1951. Both men were born in Brooklyn, New York but lived in Merrick, a town on Long Island. The two didn't meet until they were in 7th grade where they were both in the same gym class at Merrick Avenue Junior High School. Of course after high school they went in different directions. Ben took courses in jewelry making and pottery at the University Without Walls at Skidmore College. Jerry went to Oberlin and college and then applied to medical school twice, in which he was not accepted. By 1977 they both moved to Saratoga Springs, New York with plans of going into business together. In preparation they took a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making at Penn State and both of them aced the class. From this they were well on their way to starting a business that they would develop a passion for.

Their BIG Invention?

Ben and Jerry didn't exactly invent a new product, but they did make some of the best ice cream ever. Some may say that all ice cream is similar and their product doesn't have a major impact on people's lives, as ice cream is easily taken for granted. Ben and Jerry's ice cream is different though. The two best friends wanted there to be an ice cream that doesn't just taste great, but has an amazing texture as well. This is why their ice cream is chunkier than most. Ben and Jerry developed new flavors like "Chunky Monkey" and "Cherry Garcia," which is another creative aspect to their business, the fun flavors! From their innovative ideas we now have chunkier ice cream today, and texture has become just as much of a priority as taste.

How Did They Do IT?

Ben and Jerry didn't necessarily have an ice cream business in mind this whole time, at first they just wanted to work together and have fun. During the summer in college Ben served ice cream out of a Pied Piper truck. It can be inferred that this is where they got the ice cream business idea. After this they got the training needed and were well on their way to starting a business.


With $8,000 of their own money and a $4,000 loan they started their ice cream business on May 5, 1978 in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Before long they were a success. In 5 years there were franchises appearing everywhere in nearby states. It wasn't until April 2000 that they sold the company to the conglomerate known as Unilever. With only a $12,000 investment Ben and Jerry sold their company for $325 million, which might be their biggest accomplishment of all. Although, both stay involved in philanthropy work and over the years have set their business apart from others with their concerns on environmental and social issues.

Entrepreneurial Qualities

The best quality to have as an entrepreneur is creativity and the ability to invent and innovate new ideas. The creativity of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield has helped them develop their ice cream making passion and their abilities to create new flavors. At first they started the business to have fun and because they felt they had a responsibility to give back to their community. With "making money" not the biggest priority of the business, this is why I believe their company has become so successful. Having a passion for social and environmental issues is why Ben and Jerry's company is different from other corporations and their competitors. It really does take certain qualities for a person to be a leader and start a business like this one.

My Opinion

Personally I admire Ben and Jerry for their drive and creativity that they've used to build up their ice cream business to where it is today. I don't think that I am as creative of a person, but someday I would like to invent something that changes people's lives. I can see myself inventing a new medicine that saves people and has more of a positive impact on humanity.