25-year-old ‘Shark Tank’ contestant sold ice cream from a roadside tent—now he has a $200,000 deal with Barbara Corcoran
When Jeremy Carlson was a college freshman, he started selling ice cream cones from a tent by the side of the road.
These weren’t normal cones: Unlike the normal wafers, Carlson rotisserie-grilled his dough to create fluffy, soft cones. The cooking style, which he discovered during a mission trip to the Czech Republic, ultimately led to two brick-and-mortar ice cream shops called Crispy Cones — and a $200,000 investment deal with Barbara Corcoran on Friday’s episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
The offer was somewhat surprising: Carlson, 26, and his wife Kaitlyn, weren’t exactly making money at their shops in Logan, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho.
Carlson’s earnings as an Uber and Lyft driver, along with a Small Business Administration loan and $190,000 credit line, helped Crispy Cones move from a tent to a trailer to the two storefronts. But the company only brought in $743,000 in revenue between its launch in 2018 and the end of 2022, Carlson tells CNBC Make It.
And the second location hadn’t made any profits since opening in August 2021, despite grossing $290,000 in its first year, he said on the show.
“That is industry standard, especially in the food industry,” Carlson said.
Together, the couple asked for a $200,000 investment in exchange for 10% of Crispy Cones. Their goal: Turn the company into a successful franchise, with 11 new stores over the following year and a half.
The request shocked the Sharks, most of whom told the duo that their existing stores needed to make more money before even considering such an ambitious expansion. Mark Cuban said they should “still develop and grow into their own stores,” and Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, and Lori Greiner all agreed, passing on the company.
Corcoran, the final Shark standing, took a different approach.
“I’m very interested in this business, and I am the person who knows more about franchise and food than anybody here,” she said.
She referenced Cousins Maine Lobster, a food truck in which she invested during a 2019 “Shark Tank” episode. That deal was relatively small: $55,000 for 15% equity.
Cousins Maine Lobster has now brought in more than $50 million in lifetime sales, selling food from 40 food trucks and nine restaurants — including 21 franchise locations, between the trucks and restaurants — CNBC reported last year.
Corcoran offered the Carlsons a more lucrative deal: $200,000 for 20% of Crispy Cones’ equity. “I should really charge you 50%, because I know so much about it,” she said.
O’Leary encouraged the couple to take the deal. Instead, they countered with 17%, and Corcoran rejected it.
Together, the Sharks gave the duo a deadline of one minute to make their decision. They eventually accepted the deal on the table, embracing each other and then Corcoran.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”
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