Just the Cheese Before Shark Tank
Just the Cheese is a product of the Specialty Cheese Company. This product is known for being keto-friendly snack bars made of nothing but cheese. Wisconsin cheese, to be exact. Just The Cheese snack bars are made fresh from hand-shredded authentic cheese, which is then crumbled down to bits, shaped and baked into bars. Not only are these bars keto-friendly, but they also only have 75 calories in each serving. The snacks come in packs of two and can be chosen between an aged cheddar flavor and a grilled cheese flavor.
Just The Cheese was founded in 1991 by David Scharfman. David is just one of the Wisconsin cheesemakers in his family, as there are others as well. The family owns a business known as Specialty Cheese Company. When the family-owned company was started, David was just a young boy, so his father was initially the one to start Just the Cheese; however, the idea was inspired by David himself. As a child, David was a big fan of grilled cheese sandwiches, but not for the ooey-gooey cheese. He liked the cheese that would seep out of the sandwich and form into crunchy cheese around the bread. He ended up asking his father if he could make a snack based off of that cheese, and so he did.
The family would market their baked snacks so often that they became a favorite for individuals participating in the Atkins Diet. As time went on, David grew up and felt as though Just the Cheese wasn’t doing as well. He eventually moved to the east coast. Here, he worked as a consultant for some time. Although the Scharfman family may have given up on expanding the company for some years, that changed when David purchased a baked cheese bar while shopping with his wife. Tasting it brought him back to his childhood and made him realize just how unique the product really was. With that, he contacted his father and made plans to start the business back-up.
Though it took a bit of persuasion for David’s father to agree to start the business up again, he eventually agreed. David and his wife relocated back to Wisconsin, where the business resided. After multiple late nights of correcting recipes and tasting the product, Just the Cheese was officially in business again. The company started selling the bars in packs of 12 and packs of 16, with two bars in each individual pack. They even launched a few new flavors such as Garlic and Chive, Jalapeno, White Cheddar, and Wisconsin Cheddar. Now, David wants to try to impress the sharks and land a deal to further grow the Just the Cheese brand. Before appearing on Shark Tank, the company had reached a value of $10 million, implying that their sales had not been low.
Just the Cheese on Shark Tank
David Scharfman pitched his Just the Cheese snack bars to the sharks on Episode 19 of Season 20. He was asking for a deal of $500,000 for a 5% equity in his company, hoping a shark could assist him with distribution and scaling. David starts explaining the business to the sharks, while handing them each a sample to taste. The sharks like the taste and Lori Greiner even remembers that she had bought the bars from Amazon before. Nonetheless, the sharks are already starting to have some rising concerns. One big concern thus far comes from guest shark Daniel Lubetzky. He reveals that he believes there are already companies who have started making baked cheese bars.
While it’s unclear if David will receive any deals at this time, he begins talking about his sales, which are not disappointing the sharks in the least. He reveals that his family financed the company themselves with an investment they received of $1 million. David made his first $3.5 million from sales in 2018, with another $3.7 million leading up to the end of 2019. Just the Cheese bars are sold for $1.99 each and, given that cheese is the only ingredient, they only cost $0.95 to produce. In addition to that, the bars are now being sold in hundreds of stores, and they are pending to be sold in 7/11 gas stations. Although these sales are great, David admits that the profit margins are only at about 20%. This concerns Kevin O’Leary; however, he makes an offer regardless.
Kevin believes that he can help with further marketing the bars, and he offers David $500,000 in exchange for a 5% equity, with a $0.20 royalty. Robert Herjavec is the first shark to go out on the deal; however, he praises David on the work he’s done thus far. Daniel follows shortly after due to his initial concerns about there being many competing companies in the market. Lori agrees with Daniel and states that David’s asking equity is too low for a competing business. The final shark to drop out is Mark Cuban, leaving Kevin being the only resulting offer. Kevin states that he is willing to drop the equity on his deal entirely, but this leads Lori to join back in. She offers David $500,000 for a $0.15 royalty.
After putting some thought into the offers presented to him, David counter-offers Lori for a $0.05 royalty, with the exception that it will end after ten years. Lori declines and negotiations start between the two. Eventually, Mark chimes back in and offers David $500,000 in exchange for a 15% equity in Just the Cheese. David rejects Kevin’s offer and Lori states that she’s out. The founder then tries to counter-offer Mark for a 7.5% equity, but Mark declines. Overall, David decides that he won’t be accepting Mark’s offer, and Just the Cheese leaves the stage without a deal.
Just the Cheese Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
In 2023, David Scharfman and his wife, Connie, continue running the Just the Cheese business. The business is still just a local family-owned business in Reeseville, Wisconsin; however, the founder did get some help from other cheesemakers after the bars became more in demand. Although David decided to leave Shark Tank without a deal, he was able to successfully improve his distribution and he has gotten the bars sold in more stores. Now, the cheese bars can be found in Target, Walmart, and 7/ll locations, as well as on the company’s website and Amazon.
Since appearing on Shark Tank, Just the Cheese has been featured in publications such as Food Network, New York Times, Today, The Boston Globe, and many more. The company’s sales have been increasing greatly. The last estimated amount was $4 million at the end of 2021, which is likely to have increased a bit more in 2023. Although the net worth of the company has not been revealed yet, it is implied that it has increased as well due to the sales. Just the Cheese does have a few known competitors currently. Some of which are Conti’s Sugar Mountain, Baked, Murray’s Cheese, and 14th Street Pizza.