Ice Age Meals entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 to pitch frozen Paleo meals that are available on their website for delivery nationwide and at their store in Reno, Nevada. We interviewed owner Nick Massie aka Paleo Nick on his business. The professional chef has worked in 25 food service establishments including New York City’s famed Le Bernardin and The Spotted Pig.
Here’s what else he told us about…
How the Idea Came About
The seeds for Ice Age Meals were planted with the launch of PaleoNick.com in June of 2012. Over the course of four years, I released weekly Paleo cooking videos and had an annual cooking series on CrossFit.com. In 2014, I had a food booth at The CrossFit Games, which was a market test for the type of food that I enjoy cooking and eating. People loved it and then we took next steps to bring prepared meals to market. For a year and a half, we did market testing and figured out packaging and distribution. In early 2016, we launched our online store and the rest is history. Our sales went from $25,000 in January to $250,000 in July.
Bestsellers & Creating Recipes
Our bestseller is a tie between Butternut Squash Lasagna and Ribs ‘N’ Sweets with Paleo-Q Sauce. I could eat either one of them, any meal of the day, any day of the week. But that is true for all of our meals! My team of culinary ninjas and I have developed all of our recipes. The meals go through a rigorous testing process and are refined until they are just right. We start by making a small, family-sized batch. Next, we portion and freeze it. We reheat, taste and adjust. Then, we increase the batch size and test again. Once we’ve got a recipe dialed in, we calculate the macros, print the label and add it to the store.
Getting Into the ‘Tank’
I was contacted in March and started the paperwork. I made it through several rounds of casting, submitted a video of my proposed pitch and made the cut. Before I knew it, I was in LA pitching to the Sharks. The time leading up to the Tank was stressful. I had a million other things going on and the business was growing rapidly. By the time I actually entered the Tank, I was ready. I just wanted it to happen already. There are no promises at any point in the process, so even if you do pitch to the Sharks, you’re not guaranteed to air. I wasn’t really nervous, I was prepared and excited at the opportunity to meet the sharks and present my product. Whether nerves came out on camera or not, we’ll have to wait until Friday to find out.
Benefits of a Paleo Diet
The main benefit of the Paleo diet is that it prevents metabolic syndrome. What does that mean? It is essentially the precursor to chronic metabolic diseases that account for 70 percent of deaths in America today. The Paleo diet focuses on high-quality protein, vegetables, fruit and healthy fat and cuts out sugar, grains, gluten, legumes and dairy. Cutting these ingredients out of your diet has shown dramatic improvements in health markers across the board. The gist of it is that we are what we eat and no one wants to be a bagel with cream cheese.
Lance Armstrong’s Crossfit Influence
From 2008 to 2010, I cooked for Lance Armstrong in Aspen, Colorado. Exposure to him, his friends and his lifestyle had an immediate impact on me. He was using CrossFit to train for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. It piqued my curiosity and my neighbor happened to have a pair of gymnastic rings and a plyo box in his garage. I stopped by, asked him if he was doing CrossFit and he invited me to a workout. I started on October 30, 2008 and haven’t looked back. CrossFit’s nutrition prescription is to, ‘Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that support exercise, but not body fat.’ The first half of this is in line with the Paleo diet, addressing quality, and the second half is in line with the Zone diet, addressing quantity. The tie between CrossFit and Paleo is strong as most CrossFitters would claim to eat Paleo.
Future Plans to Serve 1 Million Meals a Day
Our future plans are huge. Our main focus is shipping meals directly to your doorstep, but we’ll also continue to build our Corporate Wellness Program where we educate employees and then plant freezers in break rooms of businesses. We’ve done the beta testing for this and it’s been wildly successful. Employers subsidize the cost of the meals to their employees and the benefits have been profound. We have an endless line of meals in development and hope to introduce a new menu each quarter starting in 2017. Our 30-year goal is to serve 1,000,000 meals per day!