David vs. Goliath

Who's afraid of Mr. Softee? One of the world's largest clothing chains? A day-care-center giant? Not one of these three entrepreneurs.

Kona Ice vs. Mr. Softee
Kona Ice vs. Mr. Softee
The challenge:Can you really beat traditional ice cream trucks at their own game?

What he did: Marketing consultant Tony Lamb, 43, was kind of puzzled that his kids went crazy when the local ice cream man appeared in his neighborhood in Florence, Ky. "My kids came running out to a broken-down ice cream truck [it wasn't a real Mr. Softee, by the way] with a derelict driving it," says Lamb. Why not something a little different? Cleaner? So in 2008, teaming up with a silent partner, he began selling franchises for Kona Ice trucks, which feature flavored "gourmet" ices for as much as $4 a cup. And then there's Calypso music to replace the familiar ice cream truck jingle. Now Lamb has 270 trucks on the road and says his business is profitable, with sales of $8 million last year. Take that, Mr. Softee!

By Elaine Pofeldt, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated July 20 2012: 5:53 AM ET
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