Co-founder Tracey Noonan took the time to answer our questions about Wicked Good Cupcakes, the Shark Tank experience, and the crazy journey that leads to success. Tracey started Wicked Good Cupcakes with her daughter Dani out of their kitchen in 2010 and has turned the company into a multi-million dollar success in the years since.
Read the story of the mother-daughter duo that came up with a new way to serve up and ship decadent cupcakes – from a mason jar – and got a sweet deal with Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank.
Wicked Good Cupcakes’ Tracey Noonan Shares Her Shark Tank Insight
Wicked Good Cupcakes is now a nationally known name. It’s amazing that it all started with you and your daughter Danielle taking a cake decorating class together! What first made you consider going on Shark Tank? Did it seem like a pipe dream at the time?
TN: The whole business was like a dream. We literally had no intention of even starting a business. Cake decorating was just a hobby.
Dani and I would post our creations on Facebook and people began to order. We were baking out of our home kitchen. We could only bake 2 dozen cupcakes at a time in our little oven.
Once corporate orders started to roll in, we knew we had some decisions to make. Amazingly enough, we were able to make it to the point of having to decide if we were going to rein it in and keep it a hobby or go for it and open the doors to our first retail location. We decided to go for it.
The mason jar cupcakes were added to our menu in December of 2011. Once we had some proof of concept I decided to apply to Shark Tank. I had zero idea of just how many people applied. I may have been a bit intimidated but I still would have taken a chance.
We’ve heard from several Shark Tank participants that the selection process itself is exhausting. What kinds of preparations did you make before going in the Tank?
TN: Once we passed our video audition and were accepted we were assigned a production team to work with us. They helped us with our pitch and prepped us for our trip to LA to film. We practiced our pitch daily. I went back and watched every episode I could to have a handle on the consistent questions that were asked.
We made special labels for the cupcake jars and shipped our “set” out ahead of ourselves. The team we worked with was incredibly helpful and supportive.
You ended up making a unique deal with Shark Kevin O’Leary, Mr. Wonderful. Instead of equity in the company, he asked for royalties. Did this catch you off-guard? How has it worked out in the long run?
TN: Yes! We were the first royalty deal on Shark Tank. And while not everyone should consider a royalty deal (especially if you’re underwater!) we were profitable and it made sense for us. We actually took a lot of flak for the decision to agree to the royalty deal but in looking back, I’d do the very same thing all over again.
Because Kevin makes money off each sale, he’s much more motivated to keep us in the spotlight because when we make money, he makes money.
We read that you grew Wicked Good Cupcakes 600% the first year following your appearance on Shark Tank, grossing $1.5 million. That’s awe-inspiring! Does the “Shark Tank effect” keep happening years later? What are your sales like today?
TN: So a couple things about the Shark Tank effect. Number one, as much as it’s a gigantic push for your brand, if you’re not ready to execute, you’ve just blown a multi-million dollar commercial for your brand. You MUST be ready. Our website was the first not to crash the night we aired.
As we continued to grow, it certainly wasn’t at the 600% level. BUT it has been above normal standards. It’s funny to watch the website analytics when we air or have an update. The peak and tail are identical in shape to the original airing…It’s so predictable which is awesome for us.
Our sales to date since having appeared on Shark Tank 4 years ago are upwards of $14 million. Never in a million years did I ever think that such rapid growth could ever happen to us but that’s the magic of Shark Tank and the Shark Tank effect!
What lessons did you come away from the Shark Tank experience with? Do you think it’s a worthwhile opportunity for business owners considering the show?
TN: If you think you can handle the stress and craziness of being on Shark Tank, I fully encourage you to apply. After all…what do you have to lose?
You do need to have your numbers in order, have a support team up and running and ready for the tsunami that is the night you air, and you have to understand that the Sharks are not going to run your business for you. Their job is to open doors and get you the media you need to continue to acquire customers for very little money. The rest is up to you.
What’s next for Wicked Good Cupcakes? Any new products or events we should be on the lookout for?
TN: We have SO much going on right now. We have collaborated with Jennie Garth from Beverly Hills 90210 and have created a line of pie jars, Wicked Good Pies, with her name on them! Jennie loves and grew up baking pie. She’s the perfect fit for Wicked Good Cupcakes.
We have just finished up all of the legal work needed to kick off our cupcake truck franchise biz, we are franchising and licensing in the Middle East right now with Europe not far behind. We are looking into wholesaling to a big box store, licensing with a national/worldwide coffee brand, and working with two of the largest tourist attractions in the world.
I’ll be making my debut on HSN November 13th in the evening with Adam Freeman at 7:00pm…hmm. What else? 😉 Life is good. Wicked Good.