Plated before Shark Tank
Plated is a food delivery service founded by Harvard alumni Nick Taranto and Josh Hix that allows the customer to cook their own healthy meal. They came up with the idea at Harvard Business School as they wanted to eat healthy and fit cooking into their lifestyle, but had little free time. Knowing that others had the same problem, their goal was to get as many people cooking as possible so they started the business in Nick’s kitchen.
They began the idea by offering easy to make recipes from well-known chefs. With a business background, they knew marketing was essential for brand awareness and used social media to gain followers. Plated expanded quickly in the first couple months and Nick and Josh decided to open warehouses in the east-coast to keep up with demand. Their rapid growth and proven business model allowed them to raise capital from investors at a fairly high valuation for a new company. Needing more capital to continue expansion and looking for strategic help, they applied to be on Shark Tank and were invited for Season Five.
Plated on Shark Tank
Nick and Josh entered the Tank seeking $500,000 for 4% of their company. They gave a background of how people love to eat healthy, but they learned getting good food on the table was expensive, time-consuming, and difficult. They gave a background about how their service, Plated, delivers the ingredients straight to the customer along with recipe cards so consumers can cook a healthy dish themselves.
Lori was quick to question the concept because a person could hire someone to go buy food from the grocery store and deliver it to their home. Plated pointed out that the consumer would still have to find the recipe and figure out what they want to eat. Although concerned, the Sharks wanted to know the numbers and Nick pointed out that a plate costs $10 and that a customer has to order a minimum of $40. Robert was wondering what the margins were because he knew grocery stores had awful margins. Plated discussed that spoilage and overhead is why grocery stores face problems, but how their business model avoids this because they only buy what they need and throw away less than 1% of food.
Robert was now interested in how the business would expand and Josh stated they would have warehouses across the U.S. and they had two active right now. Plated then discussed how they are growing rapidly every month as their brand is becoming well-known and to date they had raised $3,000,000 at a $9,500,000 post-money valuation. Although all the Sharks saw the potential, Robert went back to questioning the idea and felt people would not order something they have to cook. Josh and Nick did a good job at backing their business model, however, stating “cooking is believing” and when customers use the service, they come back. However, Robert did not see himself using the product and went out. Lori had the same concern as Robert and felt people who cook did not need this service, but Barbara and Mark pointed out that they are not aiming to sell to someone who already cooks, they are aiming towards people who want to eat healthy, but don’t know how. However, Lori did not see how their customers would have the time to cook and went out as well.
Kevin discussed the valuation and felt that he could do the whole thing for $2,000,000. Nick and Josh told Kevin that they would beat him to it if he tried and that Kevin would never find someone like them. Despite this, Kevin went out. Barbara asked who their biggest competitor was and Nick mentioned take-out. This concerned Barbara because take-out has the advantage of getting food to customers immediately whereas consumers would have to wait for Plated to deliver their food. Because of this, Barbara went out. Mark was left and stated that he would not be a customer. However, he was interested in investing, but wanted to know how they would grow the business. Josh stated they had a subscription service that was increasing and that because customers continue to use the product, they did not need a lot of customers to make this a giant business. Impressed in Nick and Josh, Mark offered them the $500,000 for 5.6%, but wanted advisory shares. Nick and Josh thought about going outside to discuss the deal. Mark pointed out, however, they he was basically offering them what they wanted and so there was nothing to discuss. After a brief conversation inside, Josh and Nick accepted the deal and Mark stated he knew he invested in some smart people with a decent idea.
Plated Now In 2023 – After Shark Tank Update
The deal with Mark never went through. The Plated guys felt that the company’s value went up after appearing on the show, which led them to seek more cash. However, Mark wasn’t interested in changing his offer.
Despite that, they continued to expand the business with multiple new locations across the United States. Within a few months of their Shark Tank appearance, they had raised more than $35 million in Series B funding. However, the money didn’t last long; they soon found themselves in need of cash after investing all of their profits back into the company.
Fortunately for them, they ran into Kevin at a local function. Asked whether or not he’d be willing to invest in the company, he agreed after thinking about it for a few days. He also stated that while he likes the food and their market reach, he’s not too happy about their finances. However, he believes that they’ll be able to turn it into a $2 billion business with his help.
At one point, they found themselves having to move locations after miscalculating the company’s growth, which cost them a lot of money. Nick and Josh believed that they’d be profitable within one to two years but Kevin reminded them that they need to be sure that their new fulfillment center is the way to go—that their business can easily fail if they screw it up.
Nick and Josh subsequently traveled to Chicago to check on the fulfillment center and thankfully, everything seems to be going well. After a while, they make the decision to move the company’s operations to Chicago permanently.
An update segment was later included in season nine, episode fifteen of Shark Tank, which aired on January 7, 2018. In it, they revealed that the company had actually been acquired by Albertsons for $200 million in September 2017.
By April 2018, they had begun to sell their meal kits in some of their locations. However, it only lasted for a year and a half. In the fall of 2019, Albertsons announced that they would be ending the meal kit subscription service; their last delivery date was November 27, 2019.
As of 2023, Plated is no longer in business. What is Nick up to now? According to his LinkedIn profile, he founded a new company called HOP WTR in December 2019, which sells non-alcoholic hop-filled sparkling water. Currently, there are five flavors available: Classic, Peach, Mango, Lime, and Blood Orange. For those who are interested, you can get a 12-pack for $36.99 or you can subscribe and save 15% ($31.44).
That’s not all, he also co-founded a company called Ever Scouts in February 2021, which aims to “teach kids the life skills that they don’t learn in school.”
As for Josh, he co-founded a new company called Season Health, which “connects members with healthy meal ideas and grocery options” to help those with chronic conditions.