Ice cream company goes digital in Armenia

By Nick Thompson

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Based in Yerevan, Armenia, Pink Berry specialises in the production of soft serve and packaged ice cream. Founded in 2017 and known for its colourful branding and unique flavour combinations, the business has become a market leader in the country.

With support from the EBRD’s Women in Business programme and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Pink Berry sought to introduce a raft of digital solutions to increase automation and streamline processes. This has allowed the company to operate more efficiently, increase the quality of its products and provide a better service for customers at its boutique cafes.

The foundations of an aspiring entrepreneur

Pink Berry has unusual origins: co-founder and CEO Ani Gyazaryan’s path to entrepreneurship was atypical, yet unsurprising to those around her.

Following school, Ani studied international relations to Master’s level before pursuing a career in the banking sector for six years. Her professional success and a burning desire to do something more creative and entrepreneurial were pushing her in two very different directions. Eventually, the latter won out and sparked the foundation of a viable business and her move away from banking. It was a risk ­– but one that has clearly paid off.

Pink Berry started as a passion project by Ani and her husband Levon, developed for their eldest son Davit, whose love for ice cream inspired them to create a range of delicious homemade flavours to compete with the ordinary commercial offerings at the time. They quickly mastered the process and realised that it could become a feasible business venture when family, friends and acquaintances told them how good their products were. The couple took the leap, scaling up production in earnest as they sought to establish the business in the marketplace.

The company stands out for its creative approach to flavour development, playful branding, sustainable packaging and commitment to high quality, unique and delicious ice cream that dictates trends in the market. Indeed, wild berry, and mango and passion fruit have become the most popular flavours in the country, and were introduced by Pink Berry to the local population.

EBRD support for business development and digitalisation

As Pink Berry began to see daily growth and increased sales, issues related to business administration within the company increased exponentially. This is where the EBRD’s Women in Business programme and SIDA came in.

“The digitalisation programmes we undertook through the EBRD have had a substantial impact, helping our business management processes and oversight become more streamlined, productive and efficient. They helped us create new packaging and increase sales through advertising campaigns, and provided advice on financial optimisation,” says Ani.

These improvements allowed the business to focus on growing and delivering on its environmental goals, with a stronger emphasis placed on the green economy within the company.

Indeed, Pink Berry produces all its new ice creams in eco-friendly paper packaging, and production is optimised to limit waste wherever possible. Any paper waste is recycled, and food scraps are donated to charity, so the company is doing its bit to limit its impact on the environment and become more sustainable.

A rosy future

Pink Berry recognises the value of its staff, placing a high degree of focus on ensuring that employees develop alongside the business. To Ani, her staff are the most important resource underlying sustainable business development.

“We constantly invest in human resources, seeking out high-level talent and nurturing existing potential through professional qualification opportunities,” Ani explains. “We have competitive salaries, open motivational programmes and regular team-building sessions. That's why we have such a young, loyal and strong group. A team where everyone is equally valued, without discrimination.”

This sense of unity has helped the business thrive, overcoming many economic headwinds and external challenges since its formation in 2017. At present, Pink Berry has about 150 employees, with plans to double that number in 2023. With the recent growth, the company has adjusted its immediate and long-term goals in tandem, as it plans for expansion.

“As a result of franchising partnerships, Pink Berry’s sales points are increasing and we want to continue to establish these and our ice cream boutiques throughout Armenia,” says Ani. “We also want to identify export opportunities and capture new markets. Domestically, our ambition is to continue increasing our market share and improve on our current market position through innovation, product development and building on existing brand awareness.”

The inside scoop is that Ani and her team are in a strong position to achieve these targets and disrupt their competition in the local market and beyond!

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