Katey Evans thought making a deal with Lori Greiner on ABC’s “Shark Tank” show would be the hard part of expanding a new business.
Then the pandemic hit.
The episode where Evans, of Bridgeville, pitched her Frozen Farmer ice cream products and won a $125,000 deal, aired in March just as the country was locked down because of COVID-19. Part of her deal was contingent on her landing a deal with a major national grocery chain.
“The grocery industry was going through a catastrophic thing,” said Evans, who will appear in a new episode of Shark Tank on Dec. 11.
She was able to get her ice cream, made from cast-off fruits and vegetables from the Evans’ family farm, into Acme but then was stymied. “Grocery buyers weren’t taking on new brands.”
The Frozen Farmer had to change the way it sold and marketed its products, and Evans will report on how the company pivoted to keep growing on “Shark Tank’s” upcoming pandemic update episode.
“It’s been such a whirlwind year,” said Evans.
Her company didn’t get the tsunami of sales that were expected after the first airing in March, but did after a re-airing weeks later.
“That’s where all the sales for 2021 stem from,” she said.
The show set records for ratings — everyone was home watching television, said Evans.
The original goal was to get the ice cream in more national chain stores, but online sales became a big part after the pandemic shut down.
Evans said their website crashed four times with all the people looking for information and to make orders. They heard from people in every state and four countries, she said.
It’s still coming daily, she said. They know when a rerun of the show has aired because they’ll wake up to 300 emails, she said.
How they do their farming business is not all that has changed since the first show aired.
“We’ve learned just how efficient we can be,” said Evans.
Where before she would fly somewhere to meet with a potential buyer, now she can have back-to-back meetings online. She and Greiner are working on a redesign of the company’s packaging and they are able to meet with the designer through video conferencing and make changes from home.
Even how the “Shark Tank” show is produced is different. Last time she was on, she flew out to Los Angeles and then a production crew flew out to Delaware to tape background of the farm. It took five days of filming and a crew of 10 to 12 people to get it done, said Evans.
This time, the production company sent a list of angles and shots they wanted and Evans was in charge of getting the filming done herself.
“Life has to go on in Hollywood,” she said. “They’ve gotten really creative.”
It was fine with her. It gave her a chance to use her degree in mass communications.
For the show she had to send in several different packages at different lengths. What will make the cut, she has no idea.
“It could be 30 seconds. It could be 10 seconds. It could be a minute,” she said.
She’ll find out along with everyone else when she watches the show at 8 p.m. on Dec. 1, on ABC stations.
“That’s the exciting part.”