'Czech' trdelníks strike a deal on Shark Tank, franchise across the states

Crispý Cones, based on ice cream-filled trdelníks sampled by the owner in the Czech Republic, have now hit the states after appearing on Shark Tank.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 17.12.2023 15:17:00 (updated on 18.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

While they may not be a Czech tradition, as a walking trdelník helpfully reminded tourists in the center of Prague earlier this year, one thing is undeniable: the story of the trdelník, especially the ice cream-filled variety that went viral eight years ago, will forever be linked to Czechia.

Now, trdelníks spotted in the Czech Republic are franchising across the United States. After first seeing an ice cream-filled trdelník while on a church mission in Czechia, Crispý Cones founder Jeremy Carlson and wife Kaitlyn appeared on Shark Tank to raise funding for their new business.

In an episode that aired on Shark Tank earlier this year and was just uploaded to the show's official YouTube channel, Crispý Cones sought $200,000 (about CZK 4.5 million) for just ten percent of their company from a panel of successful entrepreneurs including Mark Cuban.

Upon sampling the ice cream-filled cones, the sharks were immediately impressed. Jeremy explained the genesis of his idea for the company, which began when he was in the Czech Republic.

"I actually served a mission for my church for two years in the Czech Republic and they would make these pastry type things on the side of the road and I was fascinated by it," Jeremy told the Sharks.

"And by the end of my two years I literally had a dream in the middle of the night of me making these in the US. So I brought it back, and I learned in my aunt's kitchen, I figured out the recipe. I flew back to the Czech Republic to perfect it."

There is one key difference between the trdelníks made by Jeremy and the originals from Prague, which can be seen roasting on a spit at the city's Christmas market in Old Town Square amongst many other locations.

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"They hand make them in the Czech Republic, they put them over coal," he tells Lori Greiner, who inquired about his smaller electric rotisserie. "That takes so much longer and you can't do that inside a storefront."

While many of the sharks were impressed by Crispý Cones' taste, few were sold on the franchise model. At the time the episode was recorded in 2021, the company had just one location, and sales figures were light.

Still, Jeremy and Kaitlyn were able to strike a deal with Barbara Corcoran, who compared Crispý Cones to another one of successful Shark Tank investments, Cousins Maine Lobster food trucks. Barbara invested the $200,000 they were seeking for 20 percent of the company, imputing a valuation of one million dollars (about CZK 22.5 million).

How has the business done since striking the Shark Tank deal? Two years after appearing on the show, Crispý Cones has just opened their fifth US location in Tempe, Arizona, joining branches in Idaho and Utah. According to their website, the company has an additional three branches (including one in Orlando, Florida) opening soon.

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