Things you need to consider:
1. Soft Ice Cream Machine to use
There are three kinds of machines you will find in the Philippine market today, namely, the USA brands (TAYLOR), Korea brand (Se-a) and the China brands (Guangli, Guangshen and others).
US brands are very expensive. I think the cheapest machines cost approximately 225,000 Php (brand new) but the quality of these machines is the best. All of the other soft ice cream maker machine brands are patterned to the US brands.
Korea ice cream machines. In the Philippine market nowadays, you will seldom find a brand new Korean soft ice cream machine. It is either a refurbish machine or a second-hand unit. The quality of this kind of machine is questionable but based on my observation, korean soft ice cream machines can still produce quality ice cream. The price of their units ranges from 130,000Php to 160,000Php.
China soft ice cream machines. Right now, there are plenty of China brands in the Philippine market - different models and different brand names. China brands are the cheapest soft ice cream machines. The price ranges from as low as 85,000Php up to 200,000Php. Take note, these are the costs for brand new units already. In terms of the quality of these machines, I won't say all China machines are good but some are truly good for business. In addition, spare parts are readily available. Production-wise, China machines can create the same ice cream quality as the US brands with minimal amount of investment.
Bottom-line is, buying a soft ice cream machine depends on the amount of budget you have and how much you are willing to invest in it.
Most people say, location! location! location! They are right. Choosing a good location is very critical. Even if you have the best ice cream but your location is not strategic enough, believe me, you are already very lucky when you get just a break-even on your monthly expenses. So you will ask, what is the best location for this kind of business? I don't recommend you to find a spot at the nearest mall or supermarket because starting-up is very difficult and you don't want to pay high rentals every month. Our clients usually put their machines either at the public market or at public schools (Elementary schools will do just fine). One of our clients who has been doing this business for a decade now told me she saw a lot of her friends fall down in this business because of the wrong choice of location.
Make sure you survey your location well enough before putting an ice cream stall. It must be at foot traffic or near schools. Kids love soft-served ice cream; you won't get wrong with that market. And I almost forgot, when starting-up, try targeting Class C and D in your area. It might not seem glamorous unlike putting a stall inside a shopping mall but the probability of your success is higher.
3. What Ice Cream Pre-mix to use and Where to find
The taste of your ice cream depends on the pre-mix you are using, not on the brand of your machine. About 10 years ago, there was little knowledge about creating an ice cream pre-mix and only a few supplier but nowadays you will find many companies supplying Soft Ice Cream Pre-mix. The next question that may pop on your head is, "Where can I find a supplier?" While I'm writing this blog, there are three ways I am thinking of: first, ask the company from which you bought your ice cream machine. They may either supply you with ice cream pre-mix or refer you to one (I'm sure they have contacts); secondly, find a phone directory and look for all the cone suppliers you can find (I'm sure they also have an idea) or open your laptop and use a search engine to find a supplier (You might get lucky); lastly, ask around (Maybe the information you need is just around the corner).
What pre-mix to use? Important to keep in mind that you are doing this business to generate income so to maximize your income you need to find the cheapest pre-mix in the market. the prices of the premix today ranges from 85 Php to as much as 120 Php. Some companies have different classes of mix i.e. ordinary, deluxe or premium but others just have a single type of mix which is, premium. There are a lot of flavors to choose from: simply vanilla to rocky road; you name it, they have it. It is really up to you to monitor your market. Find out what flavor is salable in your area. Of course, you will still need to experiment and try new flavors to get the taste of the market but just to be safe, stick with vanilla, you'll never go wrong with vanilla.
Before I forget, ice cream pre-mix usually has 40% expansion rate. This means that when the label on a kilo of pre-mix says it can produce around 70 cones, that's an underestimation. Always remember, ice cream contains air, so it expands.
Please let me know if you have questions. I'll be very happy to answer your questions. Just drop me an email in firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.