Zach Davis, an alumnus in the School of Business and Leadership, received an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise in 2009. For his Capstone project he wrote a business plan for an organic ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, California. Once he graduated, he opened that very ice cream shop, The Penny Ice Creamery, which soon became famous due to great organic ice cream and a viral YouTube video that reached even the White House.
Zack Davis with President Obama and the First Lady.
When Zach Davis was creating his Capstone business plan before graduating from Dominican’s GreenMBA program in 2009, it did not include a YouTube video, a telephone call from Vice President Joseph Biden and an invitation to the White House.
It all just worked out that way.
Davis is co-owner and manager of The Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz that opened two weeks before Labor Day in September, 2010.
By Thanksgiving, the organic ice cream shop was a hot spot.
People learned about The Penny Ice Creamery after Davis used his iPhone to film a video thanking President Barack Obama and key politicians for enacting the federal stimulus plan. His YouTube video went viral and even the President and the Vice President heard about it. As a result, Vice President Joe Biden called Zack to thank him.
Then, a week before the State of the Union Address on January 25, 2011, Davis received another invitation.
President Obama wanted him and his Penny business partner, Kendra Baker, to sit in the President’s Box during his speech. Davis accepted the offer.
The business plan for the ice cream shop started at Dominican. Davis already had attended the University of Washington and had worked at UW and UC Santa Cruz.
“I feel I have a good sense of what a good university looks like and what a good university can provide in terms of resources to students,” Davis said. “When I found out that they (New College of California) were going to move to Dominican, I just felt that was going to be a perfect fit. A great university with a really strong tradition of education and support … It seemed ideal.”
When it came time to write a business presentation for graduation at Dominican, Davis relied on the help of John Stayton and Jane Lorand and GreenMBA instructors to create an impressive 75-page business plan to propose to a bank.
“That’s a big part of the program there—constant improvement and measuring what you’re doing. I presented what was the bones of the plan and there were some adjustments."
"All the instructors over the course of the last year had a look at it," Zach continued. "I received a lot of good feedback. I received some critical feedback that was really valuable in making improvements. All in all, it was a huge part of getting us where we are now.”
In the news.
“It’s definitely a little bit surreal,” Davis said.
Because of the viral video, Davis became a poster child for the federal stimulus plan and the way it has been helping small business survive and thrive.
“We’re a story, but we’re not the whole story,” Davis said. “We’re not going to turn the economy around, but I'd like to think that maybe, at a minimum, we will inspire others to dream and start making their dreams a reality."
His little dream, Davis notes, began at Dominican.