Don’t doubt the “Shark Tank” effect.
After appearing on the program In October, Sara Polon, founder of Washington, D.C.-based soup company Soupergirl, is riding a wave and prepping to raise somewhere between $500,000 and $1.5 million in seed funding to sustain the momentum, the Washington Business Journal reports.
When Polon and her mother, Marilyn, presented the 10-year-old company on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” they didn’t come away with a deal, but did get an adviser in RSE Ventures CEO Matt Higgins.
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Since then, Soupergirl has been full speed ahead. It added nationwide shipping. It revived its gazpacho program, set to launch again this summer (and featured in the Wall Street Journal). It also landed a slot on “The Today Show” yesterday. (Video below)
The trick now, Polon said, is to secure capital for more equipment. The company isn’t moving away from its small-batch handcrafted focus, she said, but other kitchen processes (i.e. building boxes) can be mechanized. “We need to have more efficiencies in place, and that’s going to dramatically decrease staff costs,” she said. The plan isn’t to lay off employees, but to grow without hiring more people, she said.
Soupergirl has a six-person management team with about 30 hourly staffers: retail workers, a demo team and kitchen staff. Polon’s also looking for another C-level executive with experience in operations and finances, to “bring a bit of order” to the fast growth, she said. The new funding would also support that hire.
Soupergirl is finalizing a deal with Giant Food to pilot its products in about 60 stores. The company already sells its plant-based soups in Whole Foods Market, Costco and natural food retailers. It has two D.C. locations, but the wholesale business and subscription service are where Polon wants to expand this year.
The business, which had a $3.4 million target for 2018 revenue, is on track to at least double that number this year, if not surpass it, Polon said. She funded her business with a $640,000 small business loan alongside personal and family investments.