There I was, sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the TV at the Seahorse Oceanfront Inn in Neptune Beach, Florida. The setting was similar to that of a movie in 1968, the only thing out of place was the flatscreen TV.
I had been notified just two weeks earlier that my Shark Tank pitch would air on the second week of the 8th season, September 30th, 2016. I had a CrossFit Culinary Ninja course to teach in Jacksonville, Florida on October 1st and a Paleo Pop-Up Dinner at J. William Culinary, also in Jacksonville, on October 2nd. While I was already stretched thin, I would have to put in double time in order to prepare for the Shark Tank airing. I barely slept for those two weeks and cherished a solid night of sleep more than anything at that point.
Like most big moments in life, I had friends at my side. Nick was there to help me with the Culinary Ninja Course. We had just taken a dip in the ocean and he bought me a celebratory beer in the poolside bar to help calm my nerves. We were chatting with an older couple at the bar, but then broke away telling them that we were about to be on Shark Tank. They got all excited and we disappeared to our sweet '60's setup.
The Seahorse Inn
A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. It was my good friend Jay and his son, William. We cozied up on the maroon, itchy-cardboard-like bed spreads and watched as the episode started. There were two pitches and then I was up. There was tension and nerves - all of the work, all of the waiting, all of the unknowns. What would I look like? How would I come across? Would people see my vision? Would people buy my meals?
There I was, walking down the Shark Tank hallway, through the opening doors and into the tank! Was this real? The hotel room didn't feel real and what I was seeing on TV was surreal, but William was there, he was real. He was talking about My Little Pony and the Legend Of Never Free, which was helping calm my nerves (William is autistic). Before I knew it, my pitch was over and I was relieved. Or, was I?
I had mixed feelings about how it went. There were some questions that I responded to differently than I remembered and some things that the Sharks said that I know they didn't say when I was in the tank the day we filmed. It didn't really add up, but it didn't matter. The airing was over and I could finally get some sleep. Or, could I?
Nick, Jay, William and I reflected on it all for a minute and then Jay and William headed home. I picked up my phone to call Jessie, "The Jo!" and "The Bro!" and found a long list of texts. I shuffled through them and had one from back at the office asking if I was watching the online store. I pulled up our sales data and couldn't believe my eyes. We had had over 100,000 visits to the website and more sales than I could have imagined. And, this was only related to the East Coast airing. We still had two more to go...
Needless to say, my mixed feelings were no longer mixed. I was absolutely astounded and called home with the best news I'd ever called home with! I didn't tell them too much because I wanted them to see the episode with fresh eyes, but I did share the sales news and told them I'd check in after the West Coast airing. It was a long day, I finally had an appetite and it was time to eat!
Almond Crusted Soft Shell Crab from the Paleo Pop-Up
Nick and I headed across the street to M Bar for a burger and fries, but they closed at 10:00PM and it was 10:01. We ended up at the Flying Iguana instead and Nick treated me to a celebratory dinner. Nick and I had been friends for four years at that point and he had seen my progression from filming food in Fargo to the airing of Ice Age Meals on Shark Tank. Needless to say, we had plenty to reminisce about...
After dinner, we checked out the ocean again and then returned to our magical motel, the Seahorse! I tossed and turned while trying to get some sleep. My phone was blowing up with friends and family who lived in different time zones as the episode aired from east to west. Once it aired at home, I called to check in and also checked the sales. We had sold over $100,000.00 in just 3 hours! I couldn't believe it!
I wish I could tell you that I slept that night, but I didn't. With emotions, nerves, questions and excitement all running high, there was a lot of tossing and turning.
This all took place on a Friday night. By Saturday night, we had over 2,000 emails, I had finished my Culinary Ninja Course and finally got some sleep. Next up was the Paleo Pop-Up on Sunday and then home on Monday.
We would go on to hit over $500,000.00 in sales by the time I got home and $1,000,000.00 before the month was out!
The New Ninjas of Neptune Beach
While I thought the hard work was over, I was sorrily mistaken. The hardest work of my life was now charted for me. I simply had to roll up my sleeves and navigate the choppy waters. You see, we only had about $200,000.00 worth of meals in inventory. It would take nearly six months before we would work through all of the orders and the dust would settle. Our episode re-aired on December 16, 2016, the night of our Christmas party, just as we were catching our breath and heading into our Christmas break...
So, there you have it. I could go on and on, but I just passed 1,000 words, so I'll wrap this up!
While I believe that every opportunity is a once in a lifetime opportunity, there are certain opportunities that can change your life. This was one of them for me.
Do I think this will be the biggest opportunity I'll ever encounter? No. I don't. This opportunity is so three-years-ago. But it's a pretty good story and I hope you've enjoyed it.
Furthermore, I hope that you'll take a look at Ice Age Meals and consider ordering some. It is our goal to help you Eat Better and Live Longer. I claim that every Ice Age Meal you eat will add one day to your life. Good stuff, right?
The cool part? The meals actually taste good, too!
Over the next 15 months, we will build a world-class production kitchen that is like nothing the world has ever seen. If you've enjoyed this story, then I invite you to follow along as the next chapter unfolds. I'll do my best to document it in a fun way if you'll do your best to support the effort. Deal?
And, if you ever find yourself in Neptune Beach, Florida, be sure to check out the motel. While you may not get to swim with The Sharks, you can always sleep with a Seahorse... ;)
"Keep It Paleo!"
(Getting Out with "The Jo!" and "The Bro!" yesterday...)
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