He swam out of Shark Tank with a $50,000 deal, but for hummus master Jesse Wolfe, the race has just begun.
The business management senior cooked up the beginnings of O’Dang Hummus in his kitchen while recovering from oral surgery, but Wolfe has since gone from tooth pain to growing pains as he rushes to expand his company in response to increased exposure and demand.
“The amount of orders have actually beaten our own projections, and we’re kind of overwhelmed at the moment,” Wolfe said. “But we’re putting together a bigger team to expedite the whole process and assure we can get the product to the customers as fast as possible.”
The increased demand comes after the Oct. 2 airing of Wolfe’s appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, in which he was offered a $50,000 deal by Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec in exchange for a 20-percent equity in his company.
“I’ve been in retail since I was 22, and I’ve never seen an explosion like we did Friday night,” said Wolfe, 28. “It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen as far as an online company having orders coming in like that.”
According to Google Analytics, the company’s website experienced a slight upsurge in visitors and online orders around the time the show was scheduled to air, but following the conclusion of the episode, the slope turned into a vertical growth line that persisted until Monday afternoon.
Wolfe said O’Dang Hummus additionally experienced a 10,000-percent increase in social media support. He believes his company has had the highest increase in followers among the different companies featured in season seven so far.
“Our followers are kick-butt fans who are helping us by getting the word out and helping retailers understand that O’Dang is the bomb, and that we need it on the shelves,” Wolfe said.
The airing of the Shark Tank episode comes after Wolfe landed a distribution deal with Publix and Whole Foods earlier this year. The company, which started increasing production even before the TV appearance, is now faced with the challenge of meeting both demands.
“The issue we’re up against, in the best way possible, is that we’re racing to fill Publix orders at the same time Shark Tank dropped, so we’re rushing to try and break our own deadline and get on the shelves faster,” he said. “Publix is excited about it, we’re excited about it, so we’re trying to run as fast as we can.”
The company, which is headquartered in Orlando, recently aquired a remote manufacturing facility in South Florida to combat the logistics challenge of adapting to the rapid growth.
Marketing director Ryan Atkins, a UCF marketing graduate, said that the company has ensured that any partners’ values and goals align with those of O’Dang Hummus to ensure product integrity.
“Our product is our baby, so we want to make sure that it will be taken care of with as much love as we would,” Atkins said.
Currently, the orders being filled at the South Florida facility are for the company’s hummus dressings. While the hummus dips will not be shipped due to logistics reasons, they will be back at Orlando farmers markets, where the hummus craze began, in roughly two weeks.
“We have a very busy year ahead of us with increasing our supply, updating the website and reaching out to all of our new fans and customers,” Wolfe said. “As far as where we’re going next, the sky is the limit.”
The company hopes to expand distribution to West Coast grocery stores, and possibly Canada, but in the midst of scaling his company, Wolfe must still find the time to graduate.
“The way I see it, if a single mom can raise a kid, work a job, go to school and finish her degree, there is no excuse why I can’t tend to my business and finish my degree as well,” said Wolfe, who is currently enrolled in his last Business Capstone class.
“When I cross the stage this winter, [it] will probably be one of the best moments of my life — right up there with Shark Tank,” he said.
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.