Where Are They Now? – Wicked Good Cupcakes: Shark Tank Updates in 2019
Wicked Good Cupcakes started in 2011 when a mother and daughter from Boston were looking for a way to spend more quality time together. Tracey Noonan and her daughter, Danielle Vilagie, decided to take a class in cake decorating. The pair took to the class quickly and parlayed their passion into a business, and soon after, they opened their first store in Cohasset, MA.
As the orders came in, the new business owners of Wicked Good Cupcakes were trying to go with a more effective way to ship their product so that the cupcakes stayed in one piece and retained their freshness. They discovered that putting the cupcakes in mason jars would keep them fresh for up to 10 days and offer a unique presentation for their product.
The mother-daughter team first made headlines in late 2011 when TSA stopped a passenger from carrying a Wicked Good Cupcakes package through security. The cupcake was confiscated for having too much frosting (as if there can ever be such a thing). The frosting was over the amount of liquid allowed on board. Publicity from the incident resulted in a substantial albeit brief spike in sales and revenue.
Wicked Good Cupcakes Enter the Shark Tank
Tracey and Danielle realized they had something special with Wicked Good Cupcakes. With the recent trends and popularity of such gourmet baked goods as cake pops and cupcakes, and the free publicity from the TSA story had gotten them off to a great start. They just needed some help to keep up the growing demand while trying to expand their reach. Enter the Shark Tank.
As they prepared to make their first national television appearance, Danielle feared the panel would struggle to understand her thick Boston accent. Instead, both Danielle and her mother charmed the judges with the way they spoke and acted together.
Tracey shared their business origin story, telling the panel how they stumbled upon the business after looking for something she could do to spend time with Danielle after she moved out of the house. As the company grew and they began shipping cupcakes across the country, the mother-daughter team came up with their idea of shipping the cupcakes in mason jars with layered filling, plenty of frosting, and a spoon.
The judges on the panel would, of course, need to test the product. Danielle ignored Robert’s attempt to at a Boston accent in pronouncing “jar,” and most of the sharks loved the cupcakes. Then it was time to get down to the serious business.
Tracey and Danielle requested $75,000 with 20% equity in the business. Wicked Good Cupcakes had registered $150,000 in sales since the beginning of the year, with half of those sales coming from the jars. Robert had concerns that the pair would only be offering the mason jar side of the business, but Tracey confirmed that both sides of the company were on the table.
Impressed with Tracey and Danielle, their product, and their presentation, the panel of sharks turned their focus on the growth potential of Wicked Good Cupcakes. While they found annual sales of around $360,000 to be acceptable, Kevin raised concerns about the long-term prospects: Wicked Good Cupcakes were produced in eight-ounce jars for $2.15 and sold to a distributor for $3 each, quite a low margin of profit. Kevin remained hesitant even after Tracey explained they could make use of better equipment and processes to lower the cost of production for the smaller jars to $1.45.
Another concern for Kevin and the rest of the Sharks involved the fact that Wicked Good Cupcakes was not run on a proprietary business model. Marketing would play a vital role in the future success of the business.
The shelf life of the product also raised some eyebrows on the panel. Packing and shipping the cupcakes in mason jars extended their shelf life. With shipping times of up to two days, it left only a week for production, packaging, and consumption. The shelf life issues did not sit well with Lori, who backed out.
Robert, admittedly not a “dessert guy,” looked at Wicked Good Cupcakes as a wonderful novelty business with a good potential for success, yet due to limited retail ideas was not really sure where he would take the company in the future. For this reason, he left, too. Daymond jokingly said investing in a cupcake business would make him a “bigger and bigger dessert guy!” Ultimately, he joined Robert in declining to invest in Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Mark wondered if scrapping the mason jar concept would increase the company’s profit margins, but the jars were a defining element of the business for Tracey and Danielle. With concerns over the temporary nature of gourmet cupcakes and sweets and questions regarding long-term profit margins, Mark also bowed out, though added he felt the mother-daughter team could do great things with Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Instead of asking for an equity deal with Wicked Good Cupcakes, Kevin proposed a royalty deal, offering $75,000 in exchange for $1 from every jar sold until breaking even. After that, he would receive $0.50 per jar in perpetuity.
Mark and Lori cautioned Tracey and Danielle that an offer giving away 50 cents from every cupcake jar could have crippling consequences on the business in the long term. Tracey countered by offering $0.40 per jar in perpetuity. While it was unclear at the time whether the offer was for the entire time or just after Kevin had made his money back. Kevin countered with $0.45 per jar, and Tracey quickly accepted. “Come to mama!”
After the Tank
Wicked Good Cupcakes saw $230,000 in sales in just the first week since they appeared on Shark Tank, with projected yearly sales numbers to reach $2 million.
Since their impressive appearance on Shark Tank, the Wicked Good Cupcakes business has thrived. With the increase in sales and notoriety from their nationally televised appearance, Tracey and Danielle opened a second Wicked Good Cupcakes location at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, a longstanding icon in Boston. They now boast of a staff of 40 employees.
With his $75,000 already paid back, Kevin visited the second Wicked Good Cupcakes location to celebrate with the mother-daughter team. Donning a chef hat and apron, Kevin took it upon himself to do some selling and advertising on the spot.
“When we first took the deal with Kevin, it pretty much felt like we were making a deal with the devil, but he’s like a little angel in disguise,” Danielle said.
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