Media Watch: Shrimp burger survives ‘Shark’

By

April Forristall, SeafoodSource.com assistant editor

Published on
March 5, 2012

You know the adage, “If you fail, try, try again.” Well, Shawn Davis, a.k.a. Chef Big Shake, took the saying to heart, and now his Original Shrimp Burger is on the brink of mainstream popularity.

What started out as a way to include his vegetarian daughter in family burger night landed Shawn Davis of CBS Foods in Franklin, Tenn., a spot on Season 2 of the TV show “Shark Tank” as well as hundreds of thousands in funding.

The program gives budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch a business idea to a panel of investors, or “sharks.” Even though he failed to garner an offer from the sharks when he appeared on a March 2011 episode, Davis has since secured more than USD 500,000 from privates investors.

Before the show aired on ABC, Davis was pounding the pavement, trying for two years to drum up interest in the product among Nashville-area restaurants. Now, it’s a different story.

“After the show aired, it was a life changing event,” Davis told SeafoodSource. “While the show was airing, my phone had 550 voice mails; the next day I had more than 1,000 voice mails.”

At the end of 2010, CBS Foods’ sales totaled about USD 30,000. After the episode aired in March 2011, the company’s sales grew more than 300 percent in just three months. Now, the company expects more than USD 5.5 million in profits by year’s end.

Prior to the publicity, CBS Foods’ products were available in Maryland-based Mars Super Markets. Now, the company is preparing for large-scale distribution, including all 800 Ahold USA stores, including Stop & Shop. Its products are also available at Marsh Supermarkets in the Midwest.

The Original Shrimp Burger — Davis’ first creation — is a frozen patty blended with shrimp, peppers and spices. The shrimp burger now comes in five flavors: Original, Jalapeno, Cajun, Chesapeake and Teriyaki. CBS Foods also offers Lobster Sliders, Lobster Pot Pies and Lobster Mac & Cheese.

Later this month, Davis will be featured on Season 3 of “Shark Tank” as a success story. CBS Foods will be exhibiting at the upcoming International Boston Seafood Show.

Even without the power “Shark Tank,” Davis said he never would have given up.

“[The show] catapulted us into a different arena — all that exposure at one time all across America. You couldn’t pay for that type of advertising,” said Davis. “The day that show aired it was the beginning of a new life for me and literally the birth of my company.”

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