Bennet Cohen is an American entrepreneur. Popularly known as Ben, he was born March 18, 1951, in New York, United States of America. He is the co-founder of the Ben & Jerry’s chain of ice cream parlors.
Ben Cohen was the son of a Jewish couple of modest means. While in the seventh grade, he met and befriended his life-long business partner, Jerry Greenfield. In his final high school year, he worked in an ice cream factory. He enrolled at the Colgate University but did not finish a course. After quitting school, he found job in several companies including being a craft teacher for three years at a private school for emotionally disturbed adolescents.
In 1977, Ben and Jerry completed a $5 correspondence course on ice cream making from The Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery where they got a perfect score in the final exam because it was an open book. The following year, the pair opened the first ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in Vermont which they shared with a farmer selling his own farm produce. Their initial capital was $12,000 including a $4,000 loan.
The ice cream business was a roaring success. It helped that Time magazine ran a story that theirs was the best ice cream in the world. The first flavor ever created was Vanilla Gasp. Later, they added seven more flavors but none of the eight original flavors survived up to the present. Since then, there have been over 300 discontinued flavors. This fact tells much about the innovativeness of the founders which account for the success business. Other factors such as marketing gimmicks and profit-sharing with employees contributed to the year after year profits of the company.
In 1981, the first franchise store was opened in a nearby town. Subsequently, the company expanded throughout the country. In 1996, Ben Cohen stepped down as CEO. In 2000, the company was sold to Unilever but he remained as member of the advisory board.