Pipsnacks is company specializing in a new and fun way to eat popcorn. The creators of the product, Jen and Jeff, are a creative brother and sister duo from Brooklyn, New York. Their idea for the whimsical take on popcorn all started with a dilemma that anyone that’s ever moved apartments can relate to; if everything is packed up, what am I supposed to eat while moving these boxes? Jen found herself in the same predicament when moving to a new apartment in New York. It was then that Jen remembered she had been given a few unique items, when leaving work, from a friendly local farmer. A pan, some oil, a little heat, and a few pops later Pipsnacks was born.
Pipsnacks on Shark Tank – The Episode
Jen and Jeff pitched Pipsnacks on Shark Tank on November 14, 2014, looking not only for an investment, but most importantly to find a partner that could take their business to the next level.
The brother and sister duo entered the Shark Tank seeking an investment of $200,000 for a 10% interest in their company. They began their pitch by explaining how Jen was introduced to a new and exotic breed of corn by a local farmer excited to educate people on the lesser known crop. The entrepreneurs then explained just how special this new kernel was over its traditional big brother. Besides being mini, Jeff boasted that Pipcorn is vegan, gluten free, organic, non-gmo, and most importantly delicious. The miniature kernel also has another unbeatable feature; the smaller shell inside the corn completely eliminates the chance of the dreaded popcorn kernel in your teeth issue.
With the Sharks intrigued, the only thing left to do was handout some samples. As each Shark tried the unorthodox popcorn they were treated to four of the company’s best flavors: sea salt, kettle corn, rosemary, and for the popcorn connoisseur, white truffle. The good news was everyone loved the taste, and were pleased with each variety; the bad news…Kevin O’Leary wasn’t so pleased with the business strategy. With a business that’s sole differentiator from the leagues of other popcorn sellers was a unique strain of corn, O’Leary wanted to know if this special strain of corn was exclusive to the Pipsnacks brand.
Unfortunately, the entrepreneurs didn’t have the answer Kevin was looking for. Jeff quickly explained that while they don’t have an exclusivity deal yet, Pipsnacks is growing so quickly that they do expect to have that deal some day in the future. “Someday in the future” was not the answer Kevin O’Leary was hoping to hear, for him, Pipsnacks had given themselves a two million dollar valuation, with nothing proprietary to justify such a high number. To O’Leary, with two million dollars he easily could buy a large amount of the specialty corn and hire two people to run the business for a quarter of the price.
The brother and sister team were quick to fire back, pointing out that they have already been running this business for two and a half years, and have more experience than anyone he could possibly hire. On top of that, Pipsnacks had some impressive numbers with over $400,000 in sales and a company growing so quickly they’d increased sales by 125% from the year before. Plus, there was even greater potential for sales on the horizon. Jeff explained that the company was on the precipice of an explosion in sales, but they had one very serious manufacturing hurdle to overcome. Pipsnacks growth from 0 to $400,000, while lighting fast, was also encumbered by the reality that it was only manufactured by 3 employees with no outside help. With all the manufacturing done in house, there was no way for the company to perform mass expansion.
That’s why the entrepreneurs had also been hunting for a co-packer. A co-packer, also known as a contract packer, is a company that packages and distributes a company’s product’s so the business owners can focus on sales. The Pipsnacks duo was confident that if they could only find the right co-packer to package their product they could double their sales by the end of the year. Add to that news, that the co-packer could also cut their costs in half, and the future of Pipsnacks was a lot brighter than Mr. O’Leary’s potential copycat business.
Seeing a company brimming with possibility, Robert Herjavec jumped into the discussion. Impressed with the entrepreneurs’ confidence, as well as how tasty the product samples turned out to be, Robert was willing to make an offer: $200,000 for 20% of the business. A very exciting offer for the up and coming business, but as Kevin O’Leary pointed out; Robert was cutting the value of their business in half.
Barbra Corcoran, was also impressed with the initial success of the business, but for her it was the clear “it” factor the duo possessed that made it a deal she couldn’t pass up. They were winners, and she could smell it a mile away. So, Barbra presented an even better offer, $200,000 for 10% of the company, which was exactly what the Pipsnacks duo had come into the Shark Tank asking for. Robert wasn’t keen to let a company with such a bright future slip away and jumped in with a matching offer. He too believed the duo were clear winners and wanted the opportunity to join the team.
Jen and Jeff gave it some thought, but with Barbra’s demonstrated success in the food industry, and her penchant for being a dedicated mentor, her offer was an amazing opportunity. With a heartfelt apology to Robert, the team gave Barbara a big yes!
Pipsnacks Now In 2024 – Recent Updates
The deal with Barbara closed successfully and within a few months of their Shark Tank appearance, sales had exploded from $200,000 to $1.1 million. In fact, right after the episode aired, they received more than 12,000 orders, which was a huge jump from the 1,000 that they previously had. Because of the huge amount of orders, however, they soon found themselves with backorder issues.
Fortunately, they were able to turn it into a positive with Barbara’s help. Instead of leaving the customers out in the dark, they decided to offer discounts to those who’ve waited for the longest. They also offered them free shipping on their subsequent orders.
In the end, however, it was only a temporary problem. Before long, they had begun working with co-packers on the west and east coast, which put fulfillment issues behind them.
A year after appearing on the show, they received an update segment, which was included in episode 701. In the clip, Jeff and Jeffrey worked with Barbara at the New York Food Show to showcase Pipcorn. They also revealed that they’ve done more than $1.4 million in sales.
Not long afterward, they received another update, this time in episode 204 of Beyond the Tank. In the follow-up, the brother and sister team revealed that their miniature popcorn is now available in over 600 stores across the country and that they’ve now done over $4 million in sales. This explosive growth, however, has led to a problem. Since they don’t have a warehouse, they’re forced to store the product in the hallway and kitchen. Wanting to remedy the situation, they are now looking for distributors and partners who will store the product themselves.
They later met with Barbara to discuss the options. While Jeff and Jen are optimistic that finding a large distributor is the way to go, Barbara is concerned that their popcorn will get lost in their inventory. She suggests that they continue to grow the brand through small distributors instead. She’s also worried about the size of their kitchen; she feels that it won’t be able to handle the company’s potential expansion.
Jeff tells her that they’ve partnered with West Coast production company. Barbara recommends that they find another partner on the East Coast so that they can reduce shipping costs and storage. She also suggests that they move the whole operation to New Jersey, but the siblings are hesitant as they like the current kitchen, which makes up one-quarter of their sales.
In the end, Barbara introduced them to a business acquaintance who operates a large warehouse in New Jersey. Jeff and Jenn are impressed and decide to reassess the situation.
Fast forward to 2024 and PipSnacks are still available nationwide. The Covid-19 pandemic had made things a little difficult but they were able to make do by pivoting to digital sales. The last that we checked, they were making $5 million in revenue a year.