This Michigan Ross Alum Is Tasting Sweet Success with Her Veggie-Infused, Kid- and ‘Shark Tank’-Approved Ice Cream Brand
Jessica Levison, BBA’ 02, pitched her innovative ice cream business, Peekaboo Organics, on the reality TV series “Shark Tank” and walked away - even after receiving multiple offers from the Sharks.
That’s because Levison was looking for an investment and not a loan in Peekaboo, which specializes in indulgent ice cream with hidden ingredients: vegetables. Her decision has paid off - Peekaboo has gone on to reach new levels of success. Following her 11-minute appearance on the show, Peekaboo experienced a significant spike in sales and an incredible amount of inbound interest from investors.
In 2019, Levison launched her vegetable-infused ice cream as a sneaky way to get her three children to eat vegetables.
“As a parent, I was overwhelmed by the daily struggle of trying to get my kids to eat veggies, and yet the one thing they would never ever decline was ice cream,” she explained. “So I thought: ‘Ice cream should be better! Why can’t I use it as a vehicle to deliver veggies?’”
Peekaboo flavors are organic and offer a full serving of veggies in every pint. Flavors include vanilla with zucchini, strawberry with carrot, mint chip with spinach, and strawberry sorbet with tomato.
This was not the Michigan Ross alum’s first venture into frozen treats. Levison is the owner of a popular Miami-based ice cream shop called Serendipity. She used her experience from developing premium flavors for Serendipity, along with her business know-how from the Ross School of Business, to successfully start and then pitch Peekaboo on “Shark Tank.”
Shark Tank experience
When Levison appeared on “Shark Tank” in December 2020, she was seeking $800,000 for 8% of Peekaboo. Lori Greiner offered her a loan for $800,000 with a 6% interest over three years and a 5% stake while Kevin O’Leary offered Levison a 9% stake. Neither loan offer was what she believed was best for her company.
Levison said that even though she turned down both offers, she enjoyed her experience on “Shark Tank.”
“It was so much fun! I loved the challenge of being in front of the Sharks,” she said. “They were intuitive, respectful, and intelligent. I was nervous, but well prepared.”
Putting Michigan Ross learnings into action
Levison credited her Michigan Ross learnings for her success as an entrepreneur.
“The University of Michigan gave me the foundation upon which I continued to expand my knowledge of marketing and finance. Additionally, it helped me develop a winning pitch to the Sharks because I could ultimately determine that their offers were not in the best interest of Peekaboo,” she said.
Levison also said the Michigan Ross network has contributed to her professional and entrepreneurial accomplishments.
In November 2020, the company also won the California Milk Snackcelerator competition, a renowned dairy product innovation contest organized by the California Milk Advisory Board. As the first-place winner, Peekaboo was awarded $200,000 in resources and funding to help bring a snack-sized version of their innovative products to market and expand the overall market for their products.