359 – Disruptive business Gelato Messina is successfully breaking all the rules

359 – Disruptive business Gelato Messina is successfully breaking all the rules

Gelato Messina shouldn’t be successful. It’s lives and breathes one very challenging core value. It pumps the in-store music so loud that you can’t hear yourself order. And it does collaborations that would appear completely off-brand. That said, Gelato Messina is killing it!

One of the founders is Declan Lee and he’s responsible for an amazing Gelato experience called Gelato Messina. With 17 outlets around Australia and one in Vegas baby, Gelato Messina is the nightclub of ice cream shops!

I was introduced to Declan through past guest Daniel Wilson of Huxtaburger.  I figured he’d be pretty well connected in the ‘cool food’ brand category so I asked him, who should I interview next. Without hesitation he introduced me to Declan. And thank God! The guy’s a marketing genius … he might not know it, but trust me, some of the insights and learnings he’s about to share with you are gold.

And a lot of them go against the grain of how successful business is often done.

You’ll be that little bit better off for listening because Declan shares:

  • How Gelato Messina disrupts the gelato market
  • Why a collaboration with Tim Tam worked
  • Why having ONE core value is all you need
  • How he is constantly applying his background as a music festival promoter
  • Why he has no set rules for doing business



Here’s my Top 5 Attention Grabbers from the chat with Gelato Messina’s Declan Lee:

  1. The Gelato Messina Honesty policy. In fact, the idea of having and absolutely living the one core value throughout every part of the business is admirable. Especially during my years in corporate I’d come across far too many businesses that paid only lip service to 4, 5 maybe even 6 core values that were nothing more than motherhood statements.
  2. Declan’s unwavering belief in his product. It seems obvious that all business owners should have this, however, it’s not always the case. What was quite amazing was that this belief clearly trickles down to all the staff who (from what I observed) were extremely proud to be serving it up.
  3. No set rules about doing business. Theoretically, a cool, independant brand like Gelato Messina shouldn’t collaborate with a mass band like Tim Tam, but they did and it’s worked!
  4. Declan’s openness to all opportunities. It felt like he’s always looking for a reason to say YES and not NO.
  5. Honesty with customers. You know that saying “The customer’s always right”? Well, maybe they’re not. Maybe sometimes we need to have honest conversations with customers that are causing our staff or our business pain. Clearly Declan thinks so.


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If some thing in this episode of Australia’s favourite marketing podcast peaked your interest, then let me know.Leave your comments below.

May your marketing be the best marketing.

Bye for now.

tim reid

Timbo Reid

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