These “Wicked Good” Entrepreneurs Keep Baking Up New Ideas

By Taylor Sisk, Staples® Contributing Writer

Mother–daughter team Tracey Noonan (pictured) and Danielle Desroches knew they had a great concept. And when they arrived on the stage of Shark Tank, they knew they had their numbers in order. Still, they couldn’t possibly have anticipated shark Kevin O’Leary’s enthusiasm for their business, Wicked Good Cupcakes. He has since called it “the most phenomenal investment ever made” on the show.

Wicked Good Cupcakes is the largest shipper of cupcakes in the country. The novelty of the product is that it arrives in a mason jar. Based in Cohasset, MA, the company has now expanded its line to include pies, brownies and cheesecakes. It also has a successful retail shop in Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Noonan chatted with us about her company, from its inception to future plans.

Tell us about the first steps you took with Wicked Good Cupcakes.

Once we had the idea, we made sure people liked the product and understood what it was. Then we got the jars tested. We had to have labeling done and figure out the packaging. We had to do a lot of printing. We had to find a carrier. Then we created a custom shopping cart. There was a lot of work that went on behind the scenes.

You have a retail location as well as a mail-order business. Was that something you planned on from the beginning?

That was something we decided on later. Faneuil Hall is the perfect location for us. It’s the seventh most-visited tourist attraction in the world. We have customers who come here and try our product, and then they can go home and order it online. So it’s a nice marketing tool as well as a retail location.

Who did you first pitch your concept to?

Shark Tank was our first pitch. We were self-funded. My husband gave us a loan of $30,000 from his 401(k), and said, “This is it; sink or swim. This is what you have to work with.” We didn't want to put our lives in jeopardy, have to sell our house, or do anything stupid. So we had to be really careful.

Your husband really said “sink or swim,” and then threw you into the Shark Tank?

Actually, I threw us into the Shark Tank. I applied online. I loved the show; I applied during season three and we were a part of season four.

How was that experience?

That was an amazing, amazing experience. First off, as a mother, being able to do that with my daughter, Dani — it was something that I will never, ever forget. So on a personal level, it was amazing.

On a business level, you can’t buy that kind of advertising. Well, you can. But who can afford it? It’s really a six-minute commercial on primetime.

The sharks were all really super, super receptive of our product. They liked it and they liked us. We knew our numbers, so we were able to answer questions and not look like idiots — which was my main goal. We walked away with a royalty deal with Kevin O’Leary, and it’s been awesome. Kevin is wonderful.

How long was it before you started to show a profit?

We showed a profit the first year in business, which was amazing. It wasn’t a lot; we had gross sales in our first year of about $325,000.

Can you talk a little bit about how you get the word out about your business?

Our marketing is really organic. We do a ton of social media. We use our Facebook page, our Twitter account and Instagram. We make sure we get out there. We do a lot of charitable work, which then introduces us to more opportunities.

And then a lot of people have sought us out. After we were on Shark Tank, we had the opportunity to be on Kris Jenner’s talk show. We’ve done radio and had lots of write-ups in national and local magazines. So it’s really been self-perpetuating.

Kevin has gotten us a lot of media as well. So, again, our partnership with him has been really beneficial. Not only do we have his expertise but we have his ability to generate media attention.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received along the way?

Absolutely the best piece of advice I’ve received was “always keep swimming, always keep innovating.” The year after our appearance on Shark Tank, we came out with new products. We worked really hard, and pushed to do that. We wanted to grow our corporate customer base, to have them return for holidays. We wanted to have new products for people so that if they were sending birthday gifts they would have something different to send. Innovation is very, very important in keeping the business alive, swimming, growing, breathing. Just having that new spark of life is critical.

What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

I think the best thing is that I can control my own destiny. I have no one but myself to blame if I fail. I’m responsible for many, many people’s livelihoods, including my own, and I like that. It gives me a kick in the pants every day. I go out and I work hard every day because I’m proud of the fact that I help people support their families and I help support mine.

And this experience has really strengthened my relationship with my daughter. It’s been really amazing to watch her mature in these few short years we’ve been in business — to watch her go from, “I don’t know if I can do this,” to really taking charge and running a good part of the company. Just watching her enjoy the ride and take a step back and say, “Wow. Look at what we’ve done.” It’s really been wonderful.

What does the future hold for Wicked Good Cupcakes?

Oh, the sky’s the limit. We’re a gifting business; we’re a baked-goods business; we’re an eCommerce business; and I really believe that we’re on our way to being a very big national brand. We’re putting no limits on anything.

Watch Shark Tank Fridays 9|8c on ABC.

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