Nailing Jello to the Wall
Have you ever tried it?
The past year has been quite a wild ride for us filled with truly unexpected and unforgettable moments as we navigated major waves in our business. As many of you know, we aired on Shark Tank on November 12th and it was everything that we thought it would be. As we watched with our family, friends and customers we were overwhelmed with gratitude for our support system as well as really freaking proud of what we’ve been honored to build over the past four years.
For those of you who watched the show, you heard us present our distribution problem that was ultimately the root of the financial health of our business. We started and grew Fish Fixe solely by word of mouth, with ZERO marketing spend as truly a passion project that after COVID spiraled into a nationwide business with loyal customers in 48 states. The growth came quickly and our centralized distribution center in Houston, Texas was not economical for shipments to the East and West coast, which caused a fundamental problem to our business model. After our financial analysis of 2020, we charted two separate courses of action:
- Scale back the business, go hyperlocal and offer shipping to only the southern region
- Identify a strategic distribution partner and set sail to chase some big dreams.
The former would double our profitability overnight. The latter would take a lot of work, but allow us to continue to serve all of our customers. Clearly, we chose the latter.
Before we get to where we are today, here is a brief rundown of the past year for frame of reference:
- January: Identified distribution issue. Melissa secretly applied for Shark Tank
- February: Business as usual – working to formulate a plan
- March: We get an email request for a phone interview with Shark Tank Casting (oh hey, Emily we have a call with Shark Tank – NBD)
- April: Follow up email, video interview, number crunching, problem solving, logistics partner research
- May: Interview – on to next round, Interview – on to next round, Interview – on to next round.
- June: Is this really happening? (We still don’t know much – apparently, the ST production team coined the term “loose lips sink ships..” Identify logistics partner and begin formalizing game plan
- July: Producers: “Hey guys can y’all come to LA in two weeks to film for the show?” Us: Um, yes of course. Also us: What do we wear?!!
- August: Post show freak out – ok, that just happened – now what!? Hi Lori!
- September: Product planning, expansion roll out plan, logistics, more logistics, QC, new system, new packaging
- October: ST Season Premier, not us – will we air? No clue yet, (companies are only given a 2-3 week notice)!
- November: AHHHHHHHH – Let’s plan a party for November 12th!
- November 12th 7:12PM – officially customer service reps
When we filmed for the show we had already identified a solution to our logistics problem and were working to begin the onboarding process and the transition from our central distribution center in Houston to Kansas City – opening up a network that allowed us to ship out of both East and West coast locations. The process took months and months of planning and without knowing if or when we would air on Shark Tank we remained in a holding pattern and continued our normal business operations. On October 24th, we got the call and we went full steam ahead to prep. And that, my friends, was like nailing jello to the wall.
What will the edited show look like? Are they going to show the part when Mr. Wonderful went crazy over how good our Crab Cakes were? Should we make a million crab cakes? What will the ST effect be? How many orders should we prep for? What proteins are people going to pick? When should we get everything into the distribution center? How is it going to affect cash flow? Do we need sleep and how much coffee have we had today?
After sorting through all of the questions, we formalized a solid purchasing, logistics and fulfillment plan that would set us up for success and minimally interrupt our operations and have us up and running by December 1st. Unfortunately, our plans were interrupted by both the strained state of logistics worldwide and our rollout coinciding with an unprecedented amount of packages flooding the supply chain for the holidays.
Today, we are frustrated and disappointed that we could not execute our plan on the proposed timeline as it ultimately resulted in a missed expectation with you, our customer.
We want you to know that we are confident that this was just a bit of choppy water and we will return to our normal weekly shipping schedule in the New Year with an excellent distribution partner who will allow us to serve you with precision, consistency and an even better Fish Fixe experience.
We are sincerely grateful that you chose to be a part of the Fish Fixe Family and we look forward to you experiencing the best part about Fish Fixe – our products!
Emily and Melissa