All they were looking for was a loan. They ended up with much, much more.
Becky App and Abby Jordan, owners of Dundee ice cream parlor eCreamery, appeared in September on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank,” hoping to secure a $250,000 investment to help the company ramp up production to meet online demand for its custom ice cream blends.
The episode in which the celebrity investors praised their own custom blends but didn't bite on the eCreamery pitch aired again last week, raising the question: What did the eCreamery owners do instead?
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As suggested by Barbara Corcoran, one of the celebrity judges, App and Jordan secured a loan — through Dundee Bank — to help them fulfill the orders generated by their appearance on the show.
The space concerns in the small, 1,200-square-foot corner shop on Underwood Avenue were solved by leasing a large industrial freezer at Omaha-based Prima Distribution, 13636 Industrial Road. The company supplies food and equipment to movie theaters. Previously, eCreamery used smaller freezers on site to store inventory.
“I don't think there's room for another freezer in here,” Jordan said. “Prima drops off milk and takes back ice cream.”
The Prima freezer space allows eCreamery to store inventory and pack orders without having to fill the front of the store with shipping boxes.
The company also has added six full-time positions in production, fulfillment and customer service since the original broadcast. The additional staff has allowed more specialization, where previously Jordan and App handled everything.
The impact of the television appearance was big. Within minutes, Web hits soared and orders came in like never before. The company racked up $500,000 in sales from September through December after planning for a $750,000 year — total.
“December was our biggest month ever,” Jordan said. “We did double what we did in our previous best, which was in October.”
When the eCreamery episode re-aired last week, orders again spiked — even higher than the first time.
“We got more orders in the first four days after the rerun than we did when it originally aired,” Jordan said, and she attributed that to eCreamery's Valentine's Day specials. There wasn't a ready-made gift-giving holiday a few weeks away during the original airing of the show.
She said that as a gift-based business, eCreamery enjoys a steady stream of repeat business. All 50 states have been checked off by now.
Despite the added business — eCreamery adjusted its 2013 budget, projecting $2 million in sales, more than double the original estimate — Jordan says things aren't that much different than they've always been.
“It was just as hectic and it's stayed just as hectic. We've been able to scale the business, though.”
A full-scale production facility still is high on eCreamery's wish list, though it has to be the right opportunity at the right time.
“We're just trying to make sure we do the right thing,” Jordan said. “We have the capital we need from increased revenues. We're making sure we focus on the right details.”
And what of the “Shark Tank” investors' advice to close the retail shop in Dundee and focus on online business? Not a chance.
“The community supports us,” Jordan said, “and we're happy to be here.”
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