Daisy Cakes & a few Lessons from the Shark Tank

If your website is getting national exposure, be ready for the traffic spike.

One of my favorite shows on television right now is ABC’s Shark Tank. If you’ve never seen the show before, the basic concept is that hopeful entrepreneurs come on the show and pitch their business idea to a panel of investors (“the Sharks”). If the idea and pitch are appealing to the investors, they will agree to give a specified dollar amount for a certain percentage stake in the company.

On last week’s episode, there was a charming lady named Kim Adams from right down the road in Spartanburg, SC pitching her high-end, homemade cake business called Daisy Cakes. After Kim’s presentation, most of the Sharks felt like the business was too small for them and declined to invest. However the last available Shark, real-estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, came through and made a deal to help fund Daisy Cakes. Perhaps more important than the monetary investment were the raving reviews all of the Sharks gave to the cakes themselves – mainly from the guys on the panel who were quick to decline an investment. Now, you can imagine the interest this drove to the Daisy Cakes website…

Daisy Cakes website crashThat’s unfortunate – the traffic to the website from the national television exposure brought the hosting server to its knees. On perhaps the most important night for the young business, at that. I’m sure Kim is still overwhelmed by orders at the moment, but just imagine how many potential customers turned away and forgot about her when they went to the website and got a bunch of errors. Thankfully, she’s back up and running now and her Facebook wall is flooded with comments and cake requests.

It was really cool to see a local person come through and score a deal with the Sharks. Score one for the little guy (or gal, in this case)! Here are a few pieces of advice you can take away from the Daisy Cakes story that can be applied in your own business:

  1. Be ready – If you are expecting a sudden, significant increase in traffic, let your web hosting provider know when you expect the traffic to begin and how many visitors are anticipated. Granted, 75,000 visitors in a span of 3 minutes is a lot for any website, but your host may be able to work with you to make some preparations to keep you up and running through the surge if they know the spike is coming.
  2. Use caching – Sometimes web traffic unexpectedly hits you out of the blue – then what? It is a wise idea to implement some type of caching on your website if you have any chance of receiving a substantial increase in traffic, or at least have a strategy in place if you begin to notice a spike. Caching can speed up your website across the board and take some of the load off of your servers. For those of you on WordPress powered websites and blogs, you should check out the W3 Total Cache plugin or the WP Super Cache plugin.
  3. Assemble a team – If I were expecting this level of exposure, I would have had a team assembled for the next several days to handle the response both online and on the phones. It can be overwhelming to field a sudden influx of attention like that on your own. Having some trusted folks monitoring and quickly following up with your phone calls and online/social media presence will take some of that burden away and go a long way in establishing good public relations with new potential customers.
  4. Personality matters – I tend to agree with most of the Sharks about Daisy Cakes – it’s a small business and getting a return on their investment may take a while. Being a hard working, authentically passionate and generally likeable person doesn’t mean you’re going to win 100% of the time, but it sure does go a long way. I feel confident that this was one of the main reasons why Barbara decided to invest in Kim’s business.