Magazine article Success

Lovepop: A Shark Tank Survival Story

Magazine article Success

Lovepop: A Shark Tank Survival Story

Article excerpt

When Lovepop co-founders Wombi Rose and John Wise learned that the Shark Tank episode featuring their handcrafted pop-up cards would air exactly two weeks before Christmas 2015, their emotions swung between delight and despair. Christmas is the biggest card-sending holiday in the United States, and that was good news and bad news.

"We were extremely excited because the timing was perfect and then very worried about the risk and operational requirements," says Rose, calling from Vietnam where Lovepop cards are made. "The date gave us very little time to fulfill orders."

The partners focused on two critical areas. First they made sure their website could handle the extra load after Shark Tank without crashing. "We invested a lot in getting our website up to par," and in having a Plan B for any problems, Rose says. Their other concern was fulfillment, especially related to their handwritten note service. For an additional $5, Lovepop will handwrite whatever message the customer wants on a card and send it to the recipient. "It's a really cool feature, especially if you've waited a little too long to send a card," Rose says. "But even before Shark Tank, we hit our capacity every single day on how many notes we could write." Rose and Wise handed over fulfillment to a third-party provider and tripled their staff of on-call handwriters.

More than 100,000 cards sold before Christmas--at $8 to $12 a pop--pretty much without a hiccup. "We were very surprised at how few issues we had," Rose says. That's partly because Boston-based Lovepop had a village to help, thanks to Shark investor Kevin O'Leary. When Wise and Rose chose O'Leary over Robert Herjavec, who also bid for the deal, they became part of O'Leary's Something Wonderful, a collection of lifestyle companies that O'Leary invested in through Shark Tank.

"I had never seen anything like Lovepop before on Shark Tank," O'Leary says. "I knew when they unfolded their first 3-D card during their presentation that the deal would fit into my Something Wonderful social media platform. We did the deal, and their sales are exploding: Lovepop is going to be a monster!"

On Dec. 11, the day the Lovepop episode aired, the founders of two Something Wonderful companies, Bottle Breacher, which sells handcrafted bottle openers, and Wicked Good Cupcakes gathered in Lovepop's offices to offer tips on staying ahead of the Shark Tank avalanche. "We had seven people on the phones pretty much the entire night and four people monitoring the website full time," Rose says.

The precision-training backgrounds of Wise and Rose helped, too. They're naval engineers who became best friends after meeting at the Webb Institute in Glen Cove, New York. Rose went on to earn a graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and work for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. …

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