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American billionaire entrepreneur and television personality Mark Cuban has invested US$300,000 in Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, an Oregon-based plant-based jerky brand that recently featured on an episode of Shark Tank. Founder Michael Pan says that the capital will go towards adding new flavours to the brand’s line-up and to expand distribution of its products as demand for plant-based foods continues to surge globally.
On an episode of Shark Tank that aired on November 20, Mark Cuban invested US$300,000 in the vegan mushroom jerky brand in exchange for 18% equity, offering a better deal than fellow investors on the show. Lori Greiner and Blake Mycoskie teamed up to offer Pan the same amount of capital with a 30% equity split between the two, in a demonstration of the bullish investment sentiment for plant-based foods.
Cuban, over the course of vying for a stake in Pan’s venture, made his offer even more appealing by highlighting his existing plant-based portfolio, which includes vegan pet food company Wild Earth, plant-based and gluten-free startup Delighted by Desserts and vegan deli meats brand Unreal Deli among others.
Founded in 2008, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky was inspired by a mushroom snack the founder tasted from Borneo, which tasted like jerky but was made of fungi. He then went onto develop his own line of 100% plant-based and soy-free jerky, made from organic dried shiitake mushrooms, plus organic coconut sugar, avocado oil, Himalayan pink salt and organic chia seeds.
It was validating and humbling to see how much the Sharks loved our jerky. You work so hard and for so long to build a business, and to see them compete to be a part of it was incredible.Michael Pan, Founder of Pan’s Mushroom Jerky
Currently, Pan’s products are available in a variety of flavours, including Original, Zesty Thai, Applewood Barbecue and Salt & Pepper, and distributed across 750 retail stores and online via Amazon, Thrive Market and the company’s own direct-to-consumer website.
Receiving the backing of Cuban, Pan says that the investment and support will go towards further expanding his line of mushroom jerky, from new flavours to boosting its retail footprint.
Given the rising demand in recent weeks due to the pandemic-driven boost in plant-based sales, the company has already moved into a new facility with a bigger production capacity, and will continue to look to expand its manufacturing capabilities as well, ahead of the forecasted sustained demand for plant-based alternatives from consumers who plan to make their new flexitarian habits a long-term choice.
Speaking about the positive response the Sharks gave, Pan said on the show: “It was validating and humbling to see how much the Sharks loved our jerky. You work so hard and for so long to build a business, and to see them compete to be a part of it was incredible.”
Lead image courtesy of Pan’s Mushroom Jerky.