If anyone ever said gelato couldn’t help cure the ills of the world, then they never met Matthew Holguin, founder of Working to Give, LLC. With a business that is driven by positive purpose rather than making money, Matt utilizes his company’s three DBA’s (Doing Business As) – Colossal Gelato, Legendairy Gelato and Popular – to serve gelato and sorbet, and bring smiles to the many faces of those who patronize his mobile gelato units. The cause is much bigger than palate satisfaction, seeing as the encouraging mission of Holguin and his business associates doesn’t stop there.
In this article the young gelato entrepreneur/missionary explains more about Working to Give, LLC, and how the company selflessly affects the world one sweet scoop of gelato at a time.
Working to Give
Matthew Holguin (MH)
329 Quarterhorse Ln
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Janae Morris (JM): What inspired you to start a mobile gelateria business?
MH: The banks inspired me! I tried to get a small loan after graduating college to open a gelateria in my home town, but not having enough collateral (a mountain bike and surfboard) along with $40K college debt, I was turned down by everyone. Since I wasn’t able to get the money for a storefront, a friend encouraged me to go mobile. I borrowed some money from the bank of mom and dad, and here I am five years later serving gelato at Disneyland, county fairs, events, and festivals alike.
JM: What do you think is the key to your success?
MH: A whole lot of prayer from family and friends as well as patience.
JM: If you could create any gelato flavor that does not currently exist, what would it be?
MH: I’m a California kid! With that said is there an In-n-Out Burger flavor? Animal-style of course! (*Animal-style consists of a mustard-cooked beef patty with additional pickles, cheese, Thousand Island variant “spread” and grilled onions diced up and mixed together on the grill before topping the hamburger.)
JM: How long have you been in business?
MH: We are celebrating five years!
JM: How many mobile gelaterias do you own?
MH: Currently we have three mobile units.
JM: What’s on your menu?
MH: I’d say it’s pretty similar to most gelaterias. Shakes, sundaes, Italian Ice, gelato, and Monster Energy floats (super popular with the younger crowd).
JM: What is the main thing you would want people to know about Colossal Gelato?
MH: We are a company that is primarily purpose-driven rather than profit-driven. Our business model is simple. Invest 50 percent of the profits back into the company to continue growth and give the other 50 percent away.
JM: What are your overall business goals?
MH: To work in 100 countries in the next 20 years. Our goal is to open businesses around the world that support and fund 100 percent of our foundation’s work in each country we serve.
JM: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in business?
MH: That you can hit the target dead on only later to realize that you hit the wrong target. Worded another way you can find yourself at the top of the corporate ladder to look on the horizon and realize you climbed the wrong ladder. I say this in reference to my original business model of starting the business to support my missionary trips, only to be so wrapped up in the day-to-day operations four years down the road that I became a workaholic. This all changed with my latest trip to the Horn of Africa.
JM: What drives/inspires you?
MH: It is my faith in Jesus Christ that motivates and inspires me. I’ve learned that you cannot out-give God, and the more we give as a business the more we are blessed. The sooner we realize that our time is short on this earth, the sooner we will be motivated to live our lives for others.
JM: Is there an occurrence/business blooper you would most like to forget?
MH: Let me get back to you on this one, Janae. [Writer’s note: Holguin is still getting back to me on this, and I have a feeling he’s not trying to forget a blooper, but it has since been forgotten.]
JM: What do you think sets you apart from other mobile gelaterias?
MH: We are the only ones that actually make our gelato in a mobile unit. Aside from this, it would have to be our purpose and mission as a company, a purpose by which we hope others will be more encouraged to be bold in their giving.
JM: How did you come up with the name for your business?
MH: Our name was derived from the World’s Largest Waffle Cone that my engineer brother created, hence Colossal Gelato. However, this past year our name was changed to Working to Give with a greater emphasis on our company’s mission/purpose.
JM: What is one of your most rewarding experiences/greatest success stories?
MH: One of the greatest success stories goes by the name of Robert. I was working in Uganda and met this amazing 24-year-old man who was working in the slums caring for 16 street kids. Robert and his wife started a wood carving business, and from the sale of the carvings they are able to teach the kids a trade, but also feed, clothe and house these orphans. What is more eye-opening was Robert only needed a $12 micro loan to buy a block of wood, and from the sale of carved safari animals it would care for these children for a whole month. In business we like to ask what the ROI (return on investment) will be. So let me ask what kind of ROI are you getting with your money? My mentor reminds me that, “things were meant to be used and people were meant to be loved, yet we find ourselves loving things and using people.”