Couple selling cool treats from pontoon boat

Instead of looking for the ice cream truck this summer, East Tennessee boaters can cool off with a sweet treat from Ice Cream Floats, which sells a variety of ice cream off the bow of a pontoon boat.

Ice Cream Floats, founded and operated by Garren and Lyschel Burket, launched in East Tennessee waterways this spring and will continue to run on holidays and weekends through the summer.

“It combines two of our loves — ice cream and boating,” Garren Burket said. “And it is something you just can’t take out there with you in your cooler.”

To get the business off the ground, the Burkets had to raise enough capital to buy a boat, deep freezers and inventory and cover marketing and licensure costs.

Using a fundraising website called kickstarter.com, the Burkets raised $4,000 in 28 days.

Left to right, Mia Venard, Morgan Arnurius, Trinity Venard and Kenna Venard, grab treats from the Ice Cream Floats pontoon on Fort Loudoun Lake on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS // Buy this photo

Left to right, Mia Venard, Morgan Arnurius, Trinity Venard and Kenna Venard, grab treats from the Ice Cream Floats pontoon on Fort Loudoun Lake on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.


“We raised a good chunk of our capital that way,” Lyschel Burket said. “It was a good mix of people who were family and friends and some who we had never met before. There are people who really enjoy watching a new business get off the ground.”

The entire start-up cost was close to $9,000 and the Burkets said it costs about $350 each day the boat runs on the water.

Lyschel Burket said the boat typically brings in $100 to $200 in profit, although rain and mechanical issues have been a hindrance on some weekends. “The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend we brought in $700 alone, that was a great day for us,” she said.

The Burkets also offer volunteers a chance to work on the

boat, in support of charitable ventures. When that happens, they said they keep enough of the proceeds from sales to cover their operating cost, but that the entire profit goes to the volunteer.

“We’ve had several volunteers so far. It’s a great way for them to raise money and they get to keep all of the profits from the hours they worked,” Lyschel Burket said.

The Ice Cream Floats pontoon on Fort Loudoun Lake on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. The boat costs about $350 per day to run on the water. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS // Buy this photo

The Ice Cream Floats pontoon on Fort Loudoun Lake on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. The boat costs about $350 per day to run on the water. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)


One Ice Cream Floats volunteer, Alexa Stephenson, raised $300 for Women Getting Real, a local not-for-profit organization where she counsels women who have had abortions.

“It’s an experience to be out on the water, you get to volunteer, have fun and raise money,” Stephenson said. “It’s different than typical fundraisers. Everyone sends out letters or does pancake breakfasts so this is a totally different way to do it.”

To find the Ice Cream Floats boat on the water, patrons can visit icecreamfloats.com and follow Ice Cream Floats on Facebook and Twitter. The boat also is available for private events and parties.

“My hope for the first season is to work out the bugs for the boat and spread the word enough to have everyone waiting for us come next season,” Garren Burket said.


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