A Midwestern olive oil merchant with seven locations will pitch his business on the popular American television show Shark Tank this Friday at 9:00 PM (EST).
The show, now in its sixth season, features a panel of investors, called “sharks,” who consider offers from eager entrepreneurs seeking funding for their businesses.
Curt Campbell, CEO of The Oilerie Olive Oil Bar, hopes one or more of the show’s wealthy investors will back his ambition to grow the Oilerie franchise to one hundred locations throughout the country.
Campbell started the business in 2003 in the rural town of Fish Creek, Wisconsin (population 997). Since then, he has opened another store of his own near Green Bay and signed on five franchisees from Oregon to South Carolina.
According to the company’s website, the Fish Creek location tallies sales of “just under $1 million” annually, ringing in an average of $315 per hour, within a retail space of 350 square feet, and with under five employees. The gross profit, according to the website, is 65 percent. The fee to own a franchise is $37,500.
The stores present extra virgin and flavored olive oils in stainless tanks, called “fusti,” and fill each bottle at the time of sale to a customer. Such “fill your own” shops have been popping up in strip centers, malls and on Main Streets throughout the country — many of them supplied by the Oakland, California distributor Veronica Foods — even while the United Kingdom has taken steps to outlaw them on the basis that they fail to adhere to new, stricter EU labeling laws.
When asked about Veronica Foods, Campbell said he “didn’t know much about their operation,” but he thinks he has an edge. “Being a franchise system, the profitability and success of our stores is our top priority. We have skin in the game,” he said.
Veronica Foods, which distributes its products to hundreds of shops nationwide, sources olive oils throughout the world, including from the NYIOOC award-winning producers Cobram Estate, Melgarejo, Oliperu and Oro Bailen.
Campbell has opted instead to stick with one source, Mantova, a 100 year-old Italian company that also produces branded and private label olive oils for major retailers, including Walmart, and foodservice companies.
“We personally know our producer as do all of our store owners. They have met him in his production facility,” Campbell said. “When one simply buys oil as a commodity on the market one really has lost the ability to track all of the things that we know about our olive oil.”
“We don’t need to self-certify,” continued Campbell, perhaps referring to the Ultra Premium label introduced by Veronica Foods, “which is kind of like giving yourself a blue ribbon, and then saying your products are award-winning.”
Campbell said he had stocked up on products anticipating a rush of inquiries when his 8-minute pitch is seen Friday night by an estimated 8 million Shark Tank viewers. “If we get just 5 percent of the viewers to go to our website, that’s 400,000 visitors,” he told the Green Bay Press Gazette, “and any percentage of those visitors who buy something means increased sales.”
Campbell told the Gazette that his research of past Shark Tank participants showed that he is going to make out no matter what happens on the show.
What will amount to an eight-minute Oilerie infomercial, Campbell estimates, is worth $4 million to $5 million in advertising “whether you get a deal or not.”
Many deals made on the show are never actually executed, according to Wikipedia: Investors have the ability to kill the deal if their due diligence reveals shortcomings during product testing or looking into the contestants’ personal and business financials.