Traffic and sales soar, investors call on eCreamery post-Shark Tank
eCreamery founders Becky App and Abby Jordan didn't walk away from their appearance on ABC's "Shark Tank" (above) with the $250,000 investment they sought from the show's panel of celebrity investor judges.
But even though the Sharks didn't bite on eCreamery, plenty of others have since the show aired on Friday.
In a phone interview Tuesday, App said her Omaha-based company, which sells custom-made ice cream online (and in its Dundee store), had welcomed 90,000 new visitors to its website since Friday night. App said those visitors were being converted to sales at an unusually high rate, leading to a 2,900-percent increase in purchases the past few days as compared to the same period a year ago.
The Shark Tank appearance has produced some sweet returns on the investment front, too, with eCreamery fielding inquiries from 26 potential investors as of Tuesday morning.
Despite the frenetic pace of activity in eCreamery's small Omaha store — multiple phones ringing off the hook in front of her, stacks of boxes piling up around her — App (below) took some time Tuesday to provide a Shark Tank postmortem.
Silicon Prairie News: What did you do Friday to watch the show?
Becky App: We had a watch party at Field Club, and we invited friends and family and some of our big supporters over the last five years. We invited our vendors that supply us with dry ice, our vendors that supply us with boxes, everyone that's really stepped up and helped us get to where we’ve gotten to in the last five years were guests.
SPN: Qualitatively, what has the response been like since Friday?
BA: What we are seeing from both customers in Omaha and online is they are very surprised the Sharks didn't invest. People are very, very incredulous of why they would really say no to the deal. … So we’ve had people from around the country just really surprised; they thought it looked like a great deal themselves. And so we’re having people purchase in support and literally having other investors say that they would like to take advantage of the deal.
SPN: You said before the show aired that exposure and driving traffic to the website were big goals of the appearance. What have those numbers been like since Friday?
BA: Well, before the show was even finished airing we were at 12,000 new visitors to the site. So that was in the first eight minutes. And it has continued. We thought it would slow down by Sunday; we were still averaging an order every two minutes. In all, if we look at it since the show has aired, we have had 90,000 new visitors and the page views is at over 370,000. …
We were very surprised to see the difference in the Shark Tank demographic than our typical public relations exposure. So our sales right now — we just ran the numbers this morning, because literally we are packing, shipping and making sales right now — compared to this time last year are up 2,900 percent. So this customer is a self-purchaser. These are not gifts.
SPN: A big theme from the Sharks was the impact that closing your brick and mortar store would have on the bottom line. Lots of local eCreamery fans have suggested they don't like that idea. What are your thoughts on the brick and mortar store and how it factors into the equation going forward?
BA: We will definitely keep the store open, although we want to find an off-site production facility. … Yesterday we started shipping our first boxes out, and the entire front window of our store is nothing but boxes. That's just not the customer experience we’re looking for. So we will absolutely keep the store open, but we would like to be able to produce and ship in a larger space off-site and then provide our ice cream to the retail store as a wholesale account.
SPN: How do you plan to proceed with the potential investors that have expressed interest?
BA: For the time being, we were able to get a loan from Dundee Bank, just as Barbara (Corcoran, a Shark Tank judge) said. We have a solid business, and we went to Dundee Bank and they gave us a loan for our immediate needs to be able to meet the challenges of fulfilling the orders we got from Shark Tank. But we are still going to continue to explore other investment opportunities to build a production facility at another location. We still have Mark (Hasebroock, eCreamery's biggest investor). Mark's on board, but we would open it up to additional investors.
SPN: I assume when you tune in and watch the show things are a bit different than you remember them being. Was there anything left on the cutting room floor that you were surprised wasn't part of the show?
BA: I can tell you that we were in there with the Q&A with the Sharks for 50 minutes, and the viewer got to see eight of that. So they were very supportive. … It was very conversational. They laughed about different logos they would put on their own flavors. Robert (Herjavec, a Shark Tank judge) had a daughter's birthday coming up where he wanted to send flavors to everyone, those sorts of things.
But, again, 50 minutes broken down to 4-6, there was a lot left on the table of what went on in that conversation.
For more on eCreamery's Shark Tank appearance, see our preview story: "Sharks set to bite into eCreamery Friday on ABC's Shark Tank". For the show in its entirety, see the embed below.