Trader drops Wall Street, takes up Italian gelato

Source: Il Laboratorio Del Gelato

Making it on Wall Street isn't easy. Neither is breaking into the New York restaurant industry. That didn't stop Jon Snyder from trying both.

Snyder was like one of the more than 85 percent of U.S. workers polled by Manpower's Right Management unit who say they are unhappy with their jobs. Snyder held positions at Lehman Brothers and ABN Amro during a career in finance that lasted seven years and proved lucrative—but which didn't exactly fit his "laid back" personality.

Snyder decided to become one of the 11 percent of Americans who actually reinvent themselves—a statistic revealed recently in a study this year from American Express. That meant chasing a personal passion: Italian gelato.

Snyder founded an ice cream "laboratory"—Il Laboratorio del Gelato—on Manhattan's Lower East Side that not only sells into the retail market, but which also tackles the wholesale side of the business by crafting individual gelatos for chefs and caterers in the restaurant industry, a massive sector that generates $33.6 billion in sales in New York state alone.

"Jon and his guys make gelato like it's no one else's business—why would we even compete with it?" asked David Lombardo, wine and beverage director of Benchmarc Restaurants, an Il Laboratorio customer that operates four high-profile restaurants in New York City.

Of course, Snyder's industry of choice is a turbulent one, and not without its risks. Most restaurants do not survive their first year of operation, and 70 percent of those that survive one year do not make it five years, according to data from consultancy the Perry Group.

Learn more about Snyder's road to success below, part of CNBC's new series, "Escaping the Cube."