Last Friday’s finale opened with J. Jones pitching his scones business, Jones Scones, to the Sharks. Unfortunately they didn’t make a deal, but it struck me how the Sharks seemed to have built a great rapport with J. and kept mentioning his likeability. Suffice it to say that after reading his answers to my questions about his appearance, I completely understand. J. Jones is an instant favorite, and I’m so glad he’s opened up about his appearance for all the Shark Tank fans out there.
Prepping Jones Scones for Shark Tank Immersion
Question: You opened your Jones Scones pitch to the Sharks with a very calm, down to earth pitch. Were you nervous at all? How did you prepare for your Shark Tank appearance?
Answer: I wasn’t nervous as much as amped. I’m a showman at heart as a lead singer. I sang to the Sharks but it didn’t make it on air. My goal was to contain that feeling and channel it into trying to form a connection with one or more of the Sharks. I had a great producer who helped me prepare for the show and I practiced the pitch 10 times a day for weeks in front of a mirror and my wife. We started preparing early and never let anything get in the way of a preparation meeting. I did a meeting with my producer from my hospital bed a few days after I had colon cancer surgery. I worked with my wife to put together a good personal look and an appealing product presentation. One mistake I made was not having her with me on the set. I had the scones under a heat lamp for too long as I prepared to be on the set. Having an extra hand to monitor and handle the food prep would have helped.
Q: Going in, were you hoping to partner with any particular Shark(s), and if so, why?
Before I got to the set, I had a feeling we might be a good match for Barbara given her success with Daisy Cakes. Also, it’s possible that she might have already had Jones Scones. She has a home in Park City, UT and that is one of our best Whole Foods. Just before I went on the set, I caught a glimpse of Robert having some fun. That guy races cars and loves music from what I can tell. I really think he’d be an awesome guy to have as a partner. Tough but cool.
The Sharks Zero in On Hard Times for Jones Scones
Q: We don’t often hear an entrepreneur talk about such a large fluctuation in business, in your case going from national Whole Food distribution to six stores. Walk us through, if you don’t mind, what this meant for your business and for you personally.
Well, from a business standpoint, it was devastating. Business is like that sometimes. Even some of the Sharks have had moments of trial. You just pick yourself up and keep going. On a personal level, I found that getting relaunched while running my law practice was draining me. My skin literally began to show a shade of grey. It turned out that I had been battling cancer for somewhere between a year and two years without knowing it. That slowed me down, unfortunately, but we managed to stay afloat. I decided not to bring up the cancer issue on the set. The Shark Tank is not a place for that sort of thing.
Q: Can you share what co-packing mistake caused such harm to your business?
I chose a co-packer, now mostly out of business, who had facilities in CO and CA. The price was right and it suited my markets. I had a gut feeling that there would be problems but I ignored it based on the numbers. Big mistake. I was not there to monitor production and the mistakes were endless. In a new market, that’s deadly. We simply did not have the capital to overcome the issues. I listen to my gut feelings more deeply now.
Q: What advice from the trenches can you give to entrepreneurs who are considering a co-packer for their perishable product(s)?
Choose a co-packer close to home so you can monitor production. If that is not possible, make arrangements for quality control. Make sure you control your intellectual property. I prefer to know the co-packers numbers. What’s their cost? How much are they upcharging you? As raw materials can fluctuate, keep an eye on the production costs. It’s pennies that make the difference in a volume business. Lastly, choose someone you like. Anyone that tells you that business isn’t personal has either never had a bad partner or they are one. I recommend from Kitchen to Market by Stephen Hall. You’ll find a ton of great stuff in there for the natural foods business. I am not affiliated with the company. I am, however, a fan.