Crispy Cones

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Edited by: Mark Furr
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Crispy Cones Shark Tank Update

Crispy Cones

Mark Furr

This post contains affiliate links, and we may be compensated if you buy something after clicking on our links.

Crispy Cones are a new take on the classic soft serve ice cream cone. They are made with fresh dough, grilled to order on a rotisserie grill, covered with cinnamon and sugar, and then filled with your choice of spread, and then filled with gourmet soft serve ice cream. Will the Sharks be willing to take a bite out of this decadent treat-based business? Read our Crispy Cones Shark Tank update to learn all about it. 

What is Crispy Cones?

A Crispy Cone is a fresh-dough ice cream cone, grilled rotisserie-style, and covered with cinnamon and sugar or a specialty powder. The Crispy Cones company operates two Crispy Cones soft serve ice cream retail locations and is in the process of opening franchise locations. Its headquarters is in Rexburg, Idaho. 

At the retail locations, Crispy Cones are grilled to order, and are filled with your choice of a spread, such as Hazelnut Chocolate or Cookie Butter, then gourmet soft-serve ice cream is added, along with fruit, and a variety of delicious toppings.

Who created Crispy Cones?

Crispy Cones Founders

Jeremy Carlson is the founder and creator of Crispy Cones, and he operates the business with his wife Kaitlyn Carlson. Jeremy started college at Brigham Young University and then transferred to Utah State University, where he completed a BS degree in Business Marketing. Prior to founding Crispy Cones when he was a freshman in college, he spent two years in the Czech Republic as a missionary. It was in the Czech Republic that Jeremy first tried a type of grilled dough, which gave him the idea for Crispy Cones. 

Kaitlyn Carlson attended Brigham Young University in Idaho, where she earned a BA in Communications and Media Studies. While attending school at BYU, she also worked part time at the college as a Media Relations Specialist. Before graduating from college, Kaitlyn started her own freelance media agency, Kait Carlson Photo + Film. It was through her freelance work that she met her husband Jeremy when he hired her to do some social media marketing work for Crispy Cones. 

How did Crispy Cones get started?

While Crispy Cones creator Jeremy Carlson was in the Czech Republic for two years serving as a missionary, he fell in love with a traditional sweet pastry called trdelníks. These Czech treats are basically cones made with fresh dough, grilled, and then covered with cinnamon and sugar and filled with cream, fruit, nuts or other local ingredients.

When Jeremy pitched to the Sharks, he told them the Crispy Cones origin story. He related that at the end of his missionary service, he had a dream, in the middle of the night, in which he was making the Czech treats in the US. He said that when he then returned to the US, after classes at BYU, he would get into his aunt’s kitchen and work on a recipe to perfect his version of these tasty, grilled pastry cones. 

Jeremmy even flew back to the Czech Republic in order to perfect his recipe, and when he returned to the US, during the summer, he decided to set up a tent and start selling his version of the Czech treats, Crispy Cones. His business out of the tent did fairly well, selling $21k worth of Crispy Cones his first year, while only operating for four months in the summer. 

What happened to Crispy Cones before Shark Tank?

After his first summer selling Crispy Cones out a tent, Jeremy realized that people were excited to try this original, new product, so after the first year, he suspected that he was on to something, so he decided to order a specially made trailer from China for the next season. 

After receiving the trailer, Jeremy grossed $70k selling his Crispy Cones with soft serve ice cream in his second year, and in the third year, despite schools and colleges being closed due to Covid, the company still grossed $80k for the year. These sales were produced in just 5 months out of the trailer. 

In 2021, Jeremy sold the trailer, as he had outgrown it, and he moved into his first retail location. The company had sales of $207k from the bricks and mortar store in its first year. During his Shark Tank pitch, Jeremy told the Sharks that in 2022, the year in which his pitch was filmed, the company had the opportunity to open a second location, and they were on track to have a total of $500k in sales from both stores. 

Finally, prior to pitching to the Sharks, Crispy Cones had also completed the legal process to operate as a franchisor, and they had already vetted 11 people who wanted to purchase franchises. When he pitched in the Tank, Jeremy told the Sharks that their first franchisee had just signed an agreement to open three stores in Arizona over the next 18 months. 

What do customers think of Crispy Cones?

Crispy Cones Product

Since Crispy Cones is a retail food business, we looked to Yelp to find authentic customer reviews. We decided to take a look at the company-owned location in Rexburg, Idaho. Yelp reviewers gave the Rexburg Crispy Cones location an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 47 reviewers rating the shop at 4 or 5 stars, and with only one person giving it a single-star rating. 

What are customers saying about Crispy Cones?

One recent Crispy Cones customer from Albuquerque, New Mexico wrote: “Oh, my! It was amazing. I mean, yes, the light crisp of the cone was wonderful, but the whole package was to die for. Putting a cookie butter spread inside the cone, then high quality ice cream, and a few toppings – just amazing. Why don’t I have one of these places? If you are visiting Rexburg, you have to try this! Loved it. My combo was a gingerbread cone, special at this time of year, cookie butter spread, vanilla and peppermint swirl, with biscoff cookie crumbles on top. Yum!”

Another content Crispy Cones consumer said, “Fire, all I can say is absolute fire. This place is the best ice cream from here to Canada. The cones are so crispy and good even when you’re all the way done with your ice cream, they never get soggy, so good.”

One visitor from Reno, Nevada didn’t comment on the cones themselves, but she was not impressed with the ambiance of the shop: “A tablet takes your order, so why would I add a tip? Aside from calling the name I enter into the tablet, there isn’t any communication from the employees. The idea is good, but the ambiance is as cold as the ice cream.”

A once loyal customer, who had followed Crispy Cones since they had worked out of a tent and trailer, was not as impressed with the storefront location. He wrote, “We went here for years, but since they moved inside, we haven’t been impressed with the value. The cones are a third smaller and the filling minimal. The price is almost double too.”

It will be interesting to read more customer reviews as more franchise locations come online. Consistency is one of the most important aspects of franchising, and reviewers will certainly let us know if the new shops are able to deliver consistently good products. 

When did Crispy Cones appear on Shark Tank?

Crispy Cones appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 17, which aired on March 17th, 2023. They pitched to regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and Robert Herjavec. 

Crispy Cones was not the only company to appear in Season 14 with a new take on a favorite comfort food. Check out another innovative look at a traditional favorite in our Jica Foods Shark Tank update.

What happened to Crispy Cones on Shark Tank?

Jeremy and Kaitlyn Carlson, the husband and wife team behind Crispy Cones, entered the Tank and Kaitlyn showed the Sharks a traditional ice cream cone, and she said, “Sharks for years, we’ve been eating ice cream out of this.” Jeremy joined her in looking at the Sharks as they shouted: “Boring!” in unison. 

Jeremy told the Sharks that “ice cream is royalty in the dessert kingdom, and it deserves to be treated as such.” He then explained that he had revolutionized the soft serve ice cream cone with Crispy Cones, which are freshly-made dough cones, grilled rotisserie style, and then covered in cinnamon sugar and cookie powder. 

He explained to the Sharks that at each Crispy Cones location, the cones are cooked on their specially-made rotisserie grills, and then they are filled with a spread, such as Hazelnut Chocolate, and filled with gourmet soft serve ice cream, which is then topped with your choice of topping and a drizzle of sauce. 

The Sharks were then invited to try a Crispy Cone, and Robert spoke up right away to say, “This is incredible!” The other Sharks were also obviously impressed with the taste of their Crispy Cones. Kevin O’Leary commented that “it is almost a donut,” but he learned that the dough was not fried, but grilled. 

Mark Cuban got right down to business, as he commented, “It looks good; it tastes good; it feels good, but how tasty is the business?” Jeremy snapped right back to say, “The business is as tasty as the cone.”

Jeremy then explained to the Sharks that he had started the business out of a tent while still a freshman in college, and he sold $21k in Crispy Cones in his first year, while operating for only 4 months. He told the Sharks that he knew that he had discovered a winner, so for the next year, he ordered an outfitted trailer from China, and he had $70k in revenues over 5 months during his second year. With Covid in 2020, despite schools and colleges being closed, he managed to grow the business and had $80k in sales in the third year. 

After Jeremy told the Sharks that he had $207k in 2021, and he projected over $500k for the current year, Robert wanted to know if this was all still being done in the trailer, and he learned that Jeremy believed that the company had outgrown the trailer, so they had opened their first storefront shop in 2021 in Logan, Utah, and they had launched a second location in Rexburg, Idaho in 2022. 

Barbara Corcoran spoke up to ask why they had moved out of the trailer when things were going so well, and Kaitlyn told her that they had simply outgrown the trailer. Lori followed up next to ask the retail price of the Crispy Cones, and she was told that they cost $1.50-$1.89 to make, and they sold in the shops for $7.59, a 308% markup.  

Mark Cuban thought that the retail price was expensive, but Lori said, “it seems worth it.” Barbara next inquired how Jeremy had come up with the idea, and he told her the story of serving as a missionary for two years in the Czech Republic, where he fell in love with a type of grilled pastry dessert, which was commonly sold on the roadsides there. When Jeremy returned to the US, he told the Sharks, he immediately got to work in his aunt’s kitchen to perfect his recipe for these delicious grilled dough cones. 

Robert wanted to know about the size of their stores and the sales, and he learned that their first store, which had been in operation for just over a year, had $298k in sales for its first year. Robert also assumed that the Crispy Cones team wanted to franchise the business, and Jeremy told him that they had completed the legal paperwork to become a franchisor and that they had already vetted 11 people for their first franchises.

Jeremy also told the Sharks that their first franchisee had just signed an agreement to open three stores in Arizona over the next 18 months. Barbara and Mr. Wonderful quickly questioned the fact that the company was selling franchises while they still hadn’t proved the viability of the stores, and O’Leary wanted to know if they had raised any capital. Jeremy said that he financed most of the startup by doing side hustles until he was able to get approval for an SBA loan and a $190k line of credit.

After the Sharks heard about the franchising arrangements, some of them appeared to be ready to swim back into the deep water, away from this sweet treat of a deal.

Did Crispy Cones get a deal on Shark Tank?

Crispy Cones successfully negotiated a deal with Barbara Corcoran. They accepted Barbara’s offer of $200k for a 20% equity stake in the company.

Mark Cuban showed his hand first, telling Kaitlyn and Jeremy that they weren’t in the ice cream business anymore; they were in the franchise business, and this comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and required skills. Mark told them that they should develop their own stores organically first, before starting the franchise operation.

Robert agreed with Cuban, saying that he was nervous that they still hadn’t proven their business model, so he quickly went out. Mr. Wonderful followed Robert to the exit, saying that he loved the way the business had started in the truck, but he also didn’t like the current business plan. 

Lori chimed in next to say that it was one of the best dessert items she had ever tasted, but she did not believe that the franchise model was the way to go. This left only one Shark swimming, and this Shark had helped a Shark Tank company, Cousins Maine Lobster business, to create over 30 franchise locations. 

Barbara said that this reminded her of Cousins Maine Lobsters, and she was very interested in the franchise model for Crispy Cones, so she said that while she should really charge them 50% for what she knew about the franchise business, she would do the deal for $200k in exchange for 20% equity. 

Jeremy tried to counter first at 15%, which Barbara quickly declined, he then came back with a second counteroffer of 17% equity, as it was apparent that he was really feeling the pressure of giving away so much equity. Mark Cuban reminded Jeremy that experience was the one thing that he did not have, and O’Leary added, “3% is nothing.” Just as Barbara started to say, “If I sit here another minute,” Jeremy looked at Kaitlyn, and then at Barbara, and he said, “We’ll take your deal.”

Crispy Cones Shark Tank update, what happened next?

When deals are made on the show, it often takes up to a year before there is any announcement concerning whether or not a deal has closed; however, from Barbara Corcoran’s Linkedin posting, it appears that the deal closed just a few months after the episode aired. Barbara wrote:

“I’m so proud of Jeremy, Kaitlyn, and the entire Crispy Cones team. They’ve been busy building, assisting and perfecting their business, and boy, does it show! I couldn’t agree more with my own advice to ‘build slowly.’ It’s important to make time to onboard new franchisees and let them know they’re family. They’re the heart and soul of your business, and you won’t build big without them!

The best successes happen on the heels of failure, so don’t be afraid to fail hard and fail often. Each time you see it through, you’ll gain the confidence of knowing you can take on anything. You learn to see what sticks, and you’ll find gold in your innovations. I’m excited to see what Crispy Cones has in store, and I’m so happy to have you in my Shark Tank family!”

Aside from the words of support from Barbara, when Crispy Cones founder Jeremy Carlson spoke about his Shark partner, he described her as a genuine, honest person, and he says that they were invited to spend some time with her in New York City, where they absorbed all the insight and advice she had to offer, and he says that she has mentored himself and Kaitlyn and has inspired them to grow their business through franchising.

Finally, when Jeremy and Kaitlyn pitched in the Tank, they were operating the two company-owned stores, but according to the Crispy Cones website, a total of five locations are now open, and they say that locations in Orlando, Florida, Gilbert, Arizona, and St. George, Utah will be opening soon.