Investing in food products could be considered risky, but Atlanta-based husband and wife team Joe and Maranda Dowell were able to convince Daymond John (ABC’s Shark Tank) that their fish fry product was good enough to invest capital into.

Many viewers tuned in worldwide as the Dowells sold the investor on not just their product but also their personalities. The two walked away with a $150,000 deal and are excited to expand their business under John’s guiding leadership.

Joe Dowell began his business in Atlanta in 1998 with his first restaurant ‘Joe’s Po Boys’ on Cascade Road. Maranda, herself, was working in advertising and visited Dowell’s restaurant to sell some advertising placements and the two began to date but somehow fell off.

As years passed by, Dowell eventually relocated to New Orleans to open a new restaurant but unfortunately was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. This devastating tragedy would actually send him on a prosperous path for his business and a chance to reconnect with Maranda love.

“From losing his restaurant, that allowed him to start hitting the road and really selling his product”, Maranda tells us.

Agreeing with this, Joe shared that “Nothing slowed down, there were no brakes pushed, it was more about what’s next, and what was next was being in control of every aspect of my life.”

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It’s almost a forbidden rule to go into business with someone you know let alone someone you’re married to, but the two have found ways to make things work for the best outcome of business. “I think it takes a really special relationship to be able to be in business with your life partner, and we’ve had to overcome some things and learn alot about each other.”

One challenge was learning how to compromise when it came to each other’s work style and having to find that balance of what will work for the business overall. Other lessons the duo has learned is being able to build a foundation and identifying each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Ultimately, they both agreed that winning together was the best part of working with your life partner: “There’s nothing like winning with your family, to be able to have that one person there who you want to be there more than anything, it’s beautiful and so fun,” Maranda said.

While the two are the face of the company, they have two younger people that also have a role with Joe’s Gourmet Fish Fry: their children.

One lesson Joe and Maranda pride themselves in teaching them is that nothing is impossible and getting a firsthand look on how hard work pays off.

Encouraging freedom with their kids, the two are willing to pass down the business but keeping options open.

The business may be a stepping stone to help the children get to where they want to be with their own business ventures or even allow them opportunity to expand on the business in the future.

“We would never confine them to our dreams, it’s available if they wanted to pursue this and we would definitely expect them to take it to the next level,” Joe explained.

From the beginning, everything with the product was very customer driven and even with today’s huge push of social media and digital presence, that remains the same.

“Even when the business was growing, one thing was that the consumer never changed,” Joe explained.

Noting that the upward demand of Joe’s Fish Fry was very gradual, the Dowells honed in on selling the product and taking customer feedback into consideration to continue to develop the product.

Eventually, the only issue the couple had was that their product was in high demand and customers wanted to get the fish fry quicker and avoid paying shipping costs.

While talking about pursuing their first retail deal, the couple shared how Wayfield Foods gave them their first opportunity to be in stores and went from 7 stores to 800 stores within 18 months.

While business was expanding rapidly, they knew it was time to take their dreams a bit further and try their luck with Shark Tank.

Describing the experience as one of their biggest blessings and greatest opportunities, the couple shared that they were actually cut during their first try on the ABC show but didn’t give up just yet.

Taking the time to build their business further, perfect their pitch and their product, the Dowells returned back to audition a year later and landed on the show.

“I knew we were going to be on the show one way or another,” Joe explained. “They call it gut, they call it instinct, they call it the Holy Spirit, but you just know that’s the path you’re supposed to take.”

About winning the $150,000 cash infusion from John, Maranda said, “We’re very grateful, he’s a very sharp person and has a great team. We’re very excited to be a part of that team.”

Joe’s Gourmet Fish Fry will be expanding to all WalMart retail stores in the Atlanta area this March.

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