Frozen Farmer owner ready for ‘Shark Tank’ appearance
BRIDGEVILLE – Katey Evans knows how her appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank” went but she’s remaining tight-lipped until The Frozen Farmer’s segment airs March 27.
Evans drove to New York for an open casting call last May, arriving at 4 a.m. with her 7-year-old daughter dressed as an “ugly strawberry.” Like the rest of the interview, she won’t say much about the experience with 600 hopeful entrepreneurs but will say that they were impressed with the “flavor and profile” of her ice cream and sorbet products. She made it through multiple rounds of the casting process – “you don’t know until the end if you’ve made the show,” she explained – but is now ready for her moment in the sun after taping her segment last fall.
Evans packed a cooler full of dry ice and products from her on-farm creamery and sorbet shop that opened in 2015 when she and husband, Kevin, decided to expand their third-generation Evans Farms Produce business to take the concept of “farm to table” to the next level, with a product that offers “a neat way to reduce food waste at the farm level.”
The Frozen Farmer makes from scratch many flavors of allergen-friendly, super-premium ice cream, nice cream (a sorbet-ice cream blend), and sorbet from the fruit grown on Evans Farms as well as traditional favorites like cake batter, peanut butter cup and cookies-n-cream. The new Frozen Farmer at Evans Farms boasts an open kitchen so that customers can interact with the chefs and watch them turn raw ingredients like a basket of fresh-picked sweet corn into an end product like sweet corn ice cream.
She would not say which Sharks were on the panel the day of her interview, but did say that each of the core judges had a positive that would make them a good partner, listing off the strengths that each of them might bring to the table.
“We’re at a pivotal point in our company’s history and want to grow our brand name and recognition,” she said. “From the day we opened, people had told us we should do this. My ‘maybe one day’ turned into this.”
The Frozen Farmer ice cream, nice cream and sorbet is sold at all Giant grocery stores nationwide, 11 Redner’s Warehouse Markets, and Exxon Mobil gas stations throughout the region, according to its website. The frozen confectionery also has a mobile food truck that caters off-site fairs, festivals, private events, parties and weddings.
Evans said her team is busy preparing for what happens after a national TV appearance.
“Every entrepreneur probably does a substantial amount of work before their segment airs to ensure they have enough inventory and people, making sure their freezers – and those of their partners – are well stocked,” she said. “This is the calm before the story. We anticipate a busy season and are just making sure we’re extra prepared. We have a marketing plan in place and are working with Giant to drive store sales.”
Together, Evans Farms, which tills more than 2,000 acres in Delaware, and The Frozen Farmer host festivals and events at the farm for the community throughout the farming season. Evans Farms wholesales its local produce direct to nearly a dozen different restaurants in Delaware and nearly 200 grocers throughout Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
The tough part she said, was trying to grow their business balancing preparation with the small family-owned business’s day-to-day operations.
“We couldn’t delegate those,” she said. “We were trying to grow our business at the same time of doing our normal business and couldn’t tell anyone. We have people within our operation who didn’t know until we announced it.”
Evans said the biggest thing she learned is that you can do anything to which you set your mind.
“Just before I went on, I felt this complete calm wash over me,” she said. “I told myself that I had gotten this far and that I could get through this pitch. The Sharks want to see you be successful in making your bit. I set no ceiling on any of my dreams throughout this process, and I’ll see how I did for the first time when the episode airs. The most exciting thing is who know what happens next.”
The Frozen Farmer will be the second Delaware company to appear on the show this season. Markevis Gideon and his NERDiT NOW partners were unsuccessful during their late October appearance, when they were seeking $150,000 for a 20% ownership position in their tech repair business. The Sharks generally liked the idea but said they believed it was too early for NERDiT NOW to be investible.
By Peter Osborne