Cheese Chopper Before Shark Tank
The Cheese Chopper is the brainchild of Tate Koenig, who graduated from Oregon State University with an International Business Degree, A lifelong cheese lover, he had always bought blocks of cheese as they’re cheaper than their presliced counterparts. However, there was a problem; getting uniform slices out of the blocks was difficult. What’s worse, is that cheese graters are notoriously hard to clean.
And that’s what prompted him to invent the Cheese Chopper. A 3-in-1- tool, it allows users to store, grate, and slice blocks of cheese quickly and easily. Putting his own money into the project, he began working on various prototypes.
In the end, it took over two years and more than 30 tries before he perfected the design of the Cheese Chopper. By early 2020, they had begun producing their molds. Not long afterward, they launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $15,000, which would allow them to begin the manufacturing process.
Within 24 hours, they had raised more than 30 percent of their $15,000 goal. By May 2020, they had officially reached their goal, which allowed them to bring the project to life.
To everyone’s surprise, however, the money kept coming in. By June 2020, they had crossed the $100,000 mark.
Interestingly enough, it was actually their Kickstarter campaign that landed them on Shark Tank. Allegedly, one of the show’s executive producers had seen the campaign and reached out to Koenig and his team. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, filming for the twelfth season was put on hold.
Once the process resumed, the producers ran him through the entire casting process in 18 days., which included background checks, multiple auditions, business financials, psych evaluation, and legal procedures.
After a long delay, he was featured in the 20th episode of the 12th season, which aired on April 9, 2021.
The Cheese Chopper on Shark Tank
Tate walks into the tank and introduces himself as “Mr. Cheese” among other monikers. Smiling, he notes that there are many different types of cheese to choose from including blocks of cheese, preprocessed cheese, grated cheese, and sliced cheese.
Walking over to the display, he explains that blocks are usually more affordable and higher in quality. However, he points out how difficult it is to “get the perfect slice.” He also comments on pre-processed cheese, saying that they cost more and are typically covered with anti-clumping agents.
Seconds later, he tells the sharks that he has solved all of these problems with his invention, the Cheese Chopper, which he explains, offers cheese lovers a “great new way to slice, shred, and store their cheese.” As the camera zooms in on the product, he explains that the chopper comes with three different handle options, which help cut the cheese.
Moving the handle down, he demonstrates to the sharks just how easy it is to slice and grate the cheese with the tool. He also adds that it comes with an adjustment wheel, which allows you to customize the thickness of each slice. Lori and Barbara are impressed.
He also tells them about the snap-on airtight seal, which keeps the cheese fresh for a long time. With that, he ends his pitch with what he’s looking for $75,000 in exchange for 10 percent of the company.
He then invites the sharks to try the Cheese Chopper. Kendra walks up to the front while the others fiddle with the samples in front of them. As they’re doing that, Tate goes over the steps, which involve removing the lid and raising the handle.
Lori asks about knowing how thick or thin the slices are. Tate tells her to just eyeball it on the side.
As Kendra’s chopping her cheese, Barbara holds up the adjustment wheel and asks what to do if it falls off. Tate laughs and says that it shouldn’t come off but tells her that it does snap back together. Lori also has trouble with her Cheese Chopper “coming apart” and Tate tells her to just push the piece back in and notes that it’s actually how you switch handles.
As she’s doing that, Tate points out that there are three types of handles: one with a grater, one with a blade, and one with a wire.
Barbara asks how he came up with the idea. Tate explains that he was living on the river with a bunch of buddies and that they would always have an issue with the cheese where there would be bits and pieces left in the fridge. Continuing, he says one of his friends eventually cut his finger while chopping some of the leftover cheese and that that was what prompted them to look for a better solution. To their surprise, however, there was nothing when they looked on the internet, so they eventually made their own in his garage.
Tate grabs some of his first prototypes and shows it to the sharks. He also tells them that they’re currently on their 39th prototype, which makes Kevin question whether or not they’re shipping the product yet.
Tate reveals that they’re not currently shipping it yet but that they have $125,000 in presales from a Kickstarter, which they started at the end of April. He also reveals that they hit a bit of a speedbump with the manufacturing due to the coronavirus pandemic and that he had actually received the current choppers (the ones on display in the tank) three days before coming on the show.
As Mark tests the tool again, Tate points out that the Cheese Chopper is the only product that slices, shreds, and stores cheese at the same time. He also adds that they have a pending utility patent.
Kevin asks about the price of the product. Tate tells him that the retail price is $39.99 and that it costs $6.65 to make. He also adds that they’re at $8.30 landed in the warehouse.
Mark asks about their initial goal on Kickstarter. Tate says their original goal was $15,000 and that they ended up raising $100,436. Kendra is amazed. Mark asks about their web traffic and Tate says they drove a lot of it with Instagram and Facebook ads. He also thanks the Kickstarter community for buying a lot and reveals that they’ve since sold another $25,000. He emphasizes that they had zero marketing and advertising and notes that people just found their website through word of mouth.
He continues by saying that it will take them $47,000 to fulfill all the orders. He also reveals that they spent $29,000 on marketing, content, and ads, which left them with $49,000 profit.
Mark congratulates him for his accomplishments but says there’s a challenge with Kickstarter-driven sales as it means they don’t have any customer feedback yet. Continuing, he says that if anything goes wrong with the actual product, their $47,000 profits will be gone and that they will also have to deal with reputational issues. Noting that things tend to “go south very quickly”, he goes out.
Kevin agrees with Mark’s point about customer feedback. He tells him that the Kickstarter campaign doesn’t mean much to him as he’s more interested in a product that has a history- at least a year’s worth of sales. He also believes that the $39.99 price is too high and notes that there are more inexpensive options out there. However, Mr. Wonderful is impressed with the storage aspect of the product, which he describes as “interesting”. However, there’s not enough data for him to work with so he also goes out.
Just as Tate is about to touch on what Kevin was saying, Kendra speaks; she says that the tool got stuck a few times while she was using it earlier and that it still needs some work. She suggests that they do further testing as it can cause issues if they ship a product out too soon. She also goes out but wishes him the best of luck.
Lori agrees that it’s still too early for the product but has confidence that Tate will eventually be able to work things out. She even compares him to the bumblebee, which aerodynamically, should not be able to fly with its chubby body. Wishing him the best of luck, she also goes out.
Barbara praises Tate for the idea but states that the Cheese Chopper can only store one type of cheese while many cheese lovers, including herself, has many kinds of cheese in the fridge and that she can’t envision herself having three or more tools to store all of them. Like the other sharks, she also remarks that the product is still too early. While she commends him for a job well done, she also goes out.
Tate is noticeably disappointed with the outcome. However, the sharks reassure him that he will eventually be able to get things going with time. Thanking them for their time, he exits the tank.
In the exit interview, Tate admits that he’s disappointed but says that they will continue going and keep chopping cheese.
The Cheese Chopper Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Tate might not have landed a deal with a shark but that hasn’t stopped him from working on the company. If anything, the exposure that they received from being on the show actually drove their sales up (everything was sold out after the episode aired). At one point, there was even a 6-8 week waitlist for the product, which is likely how long it took for them to ship their initial orders out.
As of 2023, The Cheese Chopper is still in business. What’s more, is that there’s no longer a waitlist; it’s back in stock. Looking at their website, it’s currently on sale for $34.99 (down from its retail price of $39.99). Shipping is also free across the U.S. for all orders above $20. They also offer international shipping to some countries (you will have to reach out to their customer service team to coordinate). Those who are interested can order directly from their website at cheesechopper.com.
Not only that but the Cheese Chopper is also available on Amazon, though it’s not on sale on the site. It has many positive reviews as well, with many users praising the tool for being convenient and easy to use. People also love the storage aspect as it doesn’t require any wrappers.
Like many products, however, it has received some criticism. For one thing, many people have noted that the plastic lid is firm and can be difficult to get on and off. Not only that but the grater is slow (one user pointed out that it’s probably faster to use a stand mixer or food processor to make shredded cheese). People have also experiences issues with the wire where it would pull or stretch out after each cut, which would prevent it from slicing the cheese properly. The block of cheese on the tray can also cause it to slide, which can result in a crooked cut.
Another point that people have made is that the Cheese Chopper doesn’t fit all blocks of cheese; it also takes up a considerable amount of space in the fridge, which Barbara had touched upon on the show.
Cheese Chopper aside, Tate has also started to sell other products on his site including handmade walnut coasters with cheesy puns, t-shirts, and collapsible meal containers. Not only that but he also launched the Pizza Pack- a reusable air-tight container that fits slices of pizza. For those who are interested, it comes in eight different colors (from pink to black) and is available for $23.99 from pizzapack.com.
And like the Cheese Chopper, the Pizza Pack is also on Amazon. In fact, the ratings are quite high; it currently has a 4.5-star rating out of more than 2,000 reviews, with many praising the storage container for being well-designed and collapsible. If anything, people seem to like it a lot better than the Cheese Chopper. For one thing, it actually saves space in the fridge whereas the chopper is bulky and tends to take up space.