Mavens Creamery is a business that produces handmade macaron ice cream sandwiches in different flavors. Providing a European twist to the quintessentially American ice cream sandwich, sisters Gwen and Christie Nguyen started the venture in 2014 in a bid to become successful entrepreneurs. Though the siblings do not have culinary experience, their innovation on a classic dessert resonated with people as their business continues to thrive.
The sisters’ gamble with the dessert paid off as their product is now held by 100+ retailers and eateries all over the United States. They have expanded their range to include macaron cheesecakes, and their business continues to grow along with the sisters’ tenaciousness.
Mavens Creamery is a classic example of the American entrepreneurship landscape’s opportunities. The sisters took inspiration from their immigrant father’s struggles and devoted themselves to a business with the internet as their primary learning resource. The company is now raking up sales and is a fantastic feel-good success story of two sisters who just wanted to give back to their Father.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Gwen and Christie Nguyen strode confidently in front of the Sharks to deliver their pitch. They were precise in describing their product and communicated their confidence in the business. The Sharks looked on curiously but didn’t display any outward signs of enthusiasm. The sisters asked for $400,000 for 10% equity in their company.
Christie Nguyen clarified to the Sharks that their business was booming, and they were looking to make a deal with the Sharks in order to keep up with the demands and automate their manufacturing process.
The sisters handed out samples of every flavor of their macaron ice cream sandwich to the Sharks. The taste test was filled with exclaims of delight, and there seemed to be unanimous agreement on the excellent quality and taste of the product. Kevin O’Leary wanted to know about the macarons’ shelf life, citing concerns about the egg wash coating on the outside. The sisters assure him that the macarons have about six months of shelf life.
Lori Greiner asked the sisters where the idea for the business came from. The sisters informed the Sharks about their father’s background as a Vietnam War refugee struggling to make ends meet after immigrating to the US. The business was a way for the sisters to give back to their father, who made many sacrifices to raise them. The story touched the Sharks; it resonated in particular with Barbara Corcoran.
With the quality of the product established, the Sharks dove straight into the numbers game. The sister revealed they had made $1.9 million in sales so far and were projected to finish the year with $2.1 million in sales. The Sharks were impressed by the raw numbers. However, a deeper dive found that the sisters’ business was operating on thin margins. The retail price of the ice cream sandwiches was not far off from the wholesale price, which was a concern for the Sharks.
The sisters revealed that they wanted to automate the process to meet demand. The automation process would help increase the margins in the future. Mark Cuban’s cited his concerns about the business collapsing with such thin margins once the demand goes down. He declined to make an offer due to this reason. Lori Greiner loved the product but did not see a compelling reason to invest in the business, so she pulled out of making an offer.
O’Leary found the business exciting but had issues with the sisters’ valuation. He argued that despite their impressive sales numbers, their business was worth $600,000 to $800,000 rather than the $4 million the sisters had calculated. He backed out of negotiations due to the overvaluation. John Daymond also loved the product but could not justify the margins; he declined to make an offer.
This left the sisters with Corcoran as an option, who was visibly interested in the sister’s story. Discussions about the sisters’ aim to give back to their father further impressed Corcoran as she also told a story about buying her mother a car after getting some hard-earned money. This connection between the sisters and Corcoran showed that a deal was imminent.
Corcoran offered the sister $200,000 upfront and $200,000 as credit for one-third of the company. She emphasised that she wanted a more significant chunk to be more involved. The sisters asked whether Barbara would be willing to take 20%. Corcoran put forth a counter offer of 25%. The sisters contemplated the deal for a few moments and then accepted it. The siblings and Corcoran seal the deal with hugs all around.
Our Review of Mavens Creamery
Mavens Creamery provides light hand-churned ice cream between delicate slabs of macaron, providing a sophisticated twist on a classic childhood dessert. The people love their iteration of a beloved American dessert as it has many qualities. The product still has room for improvement for the business to grow even further.
Pros of Mavens Creamery
- The ice cream and the macarons are natural, so there are no harmful preservatives
- Range of flavors available for different preferences
- The ice cream is very light rather than heavy on the palate
- Online delivery available in dry ice boxes, so there is no fear of the product getting ruined during shipping
- Can be purchased at most grocery stores in California.
- The product range has been expanded to include macaron cheesecakes
Cons of Mavens Creamery
- Sudden increase in price might put off customers
- Macarons are too dense for some since automation of the process
Who Is It For?
The desserts made by Mavens Creamery are not restricted to any demographic. They can be enjoyed by anyone looking to indulge in a sweet treat. However, the premium quality of the products and the macarons attract a demographic with more refined and adventurous palates toward products.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Several companies provide multiple iterations of the ice cream sandwich. Mavens Creamery’s all-natural macaron ice cream sandwich remains one of its kind. The product seems to have carved a niche in the market that it alone seems to enjoy.
Mavens Creamery is a feel-good success story from Shark Tank. The two sisters’ ambition and love for their father have made the business a household name. It also shows that despite achieving no formal training for a company of this kind, the resources at hand these days are enough to start an entrepreneurial venture.