Shrewd Business Lessons to Grow Your Bakery Business from Shark Tank’s Milk and Brookies

One of my all-time favourite shows to watch is Shark Tank! I mean c’mon, there is something exciting about seeing people going after their dreams and hearing about their successes but also their challenges. Wayyyyy back in da day, I really enjoyed the Canadian forerunner, Dragon’s Den… but I gotta be real, ever since Kevin […]

One of my all-time favourite shows to watch is Shark Tank! I mean c’mon, there is something exciting about seeing people going after their dreams and hearing about their successes but also their challenges.

Wayyyyy back in da day, I really enjoyed the Canadian forerunner, Dragon’s Den… but I gotta be real, ever since Kevin O’Leary left for good, I find that the show has lost a lot of its spunky, original sparkle.

Anyhoo, I was sick over the weekend and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to catch up (aka binge watch) hours of missed Shark Tank episodes.

As you know, my vision with Cakeish is to help bakeries get from a point where it starts off as a hobby but then grows to a successful business, so when I saw the episode that originally aired on October 16, 2015 about a Los Angeles based Company named Milk and Brookies, I got uber excited.

Shark Tank’s Milk and Brookies

If you missed the episode of Shark Tank’s Milk and Brookies, it started off with 3 friends who had the innovative idea to mash up two desserts that they loved- the cookie and the brownie- into one bite-sized piece of sugary heaven, which they called the Brookie. Without even realizing it, they were on track to create the next big food trend!

Innocently enough, they started creating their signature Brookies for loved ones, and before long, word got out that their delectable treats were to-die-for!

The brave souls took a leap of faith and decided to pitch their dessert idea to the Sharks all while seeking 100k for 20% of their company. Although the Sharks LOVED their Brookies, the trio left without a deal.

Let’s figure out why:

Problem #1: They were Offering too Many Products
Their company, Milk and Brookies, offered 8 different flavours including their original creation, fudge brownie and chocolate chip cookie mashup. Their business model really seemed simple enough… until they explained that their flavours could be combined to create up to 750 different flavour combinations.

Once the Sharks heard that their jaws literally dropped!

That was simply too many flavour combinations to be able to scale the business.

How They Could Solve It: Since Kevin O’Leary had previous invested in Wicked Good Cupcakes, he suggested that they needed to cut down their product offering down to 4 signature Brookies. That way they could better control the cost of ingredients and inventory and reduce their overall costs.

Problem #2: They Needed to Automate their Processes
Another issue that they faced was due to their production process. Since they operated as an online business, every order that they received was a custom Brookie order based on the flavours that their customers wanted. They received each order by 7pm Pacific Standard Time and spent all night baking them so that they could be shipped the next day.

This process was very time consuming and just wasn’t sustainable, especially if they wanted to grow the business.

How They Could Solve It: By simplifying their product offering, they could consider outsourcing their production and standardize the ordering and baking process.

Problem #3: They were Charging too Little for their Brookies
The cost to order a dozen Brookies was $14, which was wayyyyyy too little, especially since each order was custom-made. The Sharks noticed that they were not charging enough for their desserts, and suggested that the pricing be at least $30 per dozen.

How They Could Solve It: Milk and Brookies’ biggest limitation and their most valuable asset is their time, so they needed to increase their profit margins based on their time by increasing the price. The results could be that their customer base (sales as in number of units sold) would go down but profits would go up

Problem #4: They had no Business Structure
All three entrepreneurs were involved in the business on a part-time level and had no set roles and responsibilities. There was no CEO, no employees- everyone involved had no real plan as to where the business should go. They also were not 100% sure how they would spend the money they would receive from the Sharks.

How They Could Solve It: Someone had to be the leader and create a real vision and plan for the company. There needed to at least be a CEO and also a long-term strategy to grow the business.

Problem #5: It was Still a Hobby
This problem is actually linked to problem #3- since they had no long-term vision for their business it was hard for the Sharks to take them seriously, even if they loved their product.

How They Could Solve It: One of them would have to take the leap of faith and dedicate their time 100% to help this business get to the next level!

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