Sanaia Applesauce Before Shark Tank
Keisha Smith-Jeremie, the founder of Sanaia Applesauce, grew up on a warm island in the Bahamas. She loved snacking on sweet tropical fruits on her island; however, when she was studying in college in the US, Keisha became nostalgic for the flavors she grew to love back home, so she started making applesauce with fruits and flavors common on her island. In the following years, Keisha refined and perfected her applesauce; she learned to make several applesauce flavors such as guava and tamarind applesauce.
Keisha noticed a gap in the applesauce market; companies only made applesauce for children or seniors. There wasn’t a company that catered to the average adult consumer. With that in mind, Keisha started working on her company, Sanaia Applesauce, which she founded in 2017. She developed her brand and worked on getting her applesauce known and on shelves everywhere.
Keisha’s vision for Senaia Applesauce was to fill the gap in the market, similar to what happened with yogurt. Keisha wanted to elevate applesauce and make it more mainstream, similar to flavored yogurt. Sanaia Applesauce came in 6 different flavors, ranging from unsweetened to tamarind applesauce. The company planned to sell its applesauce in four packs of glass jars.
Sanaia Applesauce had a six-month-long direct-to-consumer test market. During that time, Sanaia gained a lot of love from vegan consumers and those looking for a dairy-free snack product. Most customers who bought the applesauce loved it and wanted to buy more.
Wanting to get more funding and an experienced investor to help guide Sanaia Applesauce to success, Keisha went on Shark Tank seeking investment in her company.
Sanaia Applesauce on Shark Tank
Keisha appeared on season 10, episode 2 of Shark Tank, seeking a $150,000 investment for a 15% stake in her company. She pitched Sanaia Applesauce to the sharks, giving each shark four flavors of her applesauce as samples. She said they were the only company that puts real apple wedges inside their applesauce.
The sharks loved the taste and were interested in her pitch. Keisha compared her company to yogurt, stating that yogurt turned from an 8 billion dollar category to 125 billion dollars after elevating its flavors and catering to adults. She plans to do the same with applesauce to make her company worth billions of dollars.
Robert Herjavec inquired about her business and what she had made in sales. Keisha said the company had recently launched in July, and they had done a six-month-long test market which generated $40,000 in sales. She said that people are buying her applesauce because most of them are seeking a plant-based alternative to dairy products, and apple sauce is the perfect vegan replacement.
Mark Cuban asked about the selling method and the cost to produce the applesauce, to which Keisha said it would be sold as a 4-pack per flavor on Amazon. She claimed that each glass jar of applesauce costs $1.03 to produce and would be sold for $3.99 ($15.96 for the 4-pack).
Kevin O’Leary was concerned about the high price. Keisha said her applesauce is not the same as the ones sold in stores because it caters to adults rather than children or seniors. She compared her company to yogurt once more and said that applesauce could do the same and become the next big thing.
Keisha said that she had spent the last two days at the IDDBA (International Dairy-Deli-Bake Association). She claimed that Sanaia Applesauce had come back with nearly $35,000,000 in projected revenue based on interest. At that, the sharks were bewildered by the large sum and had doubts about her claim.
Keisha explained that large brands such as Starbucks and Whole Foods were interested in their company and wanted to buy their products. Sanaia Applesauce made a commitment with one Whole Foods store before the conference. However, no firm order or contract was made at the conference, just confirmed interest, which the sharks were very disappointed to hear. However, Some brands at the conference showed interest in Sanaia Applesauce’s yogurt-like plastic cups. The cups were cheap to produce and could be sold for low prices in stores, which the sharks liked.
Keisha explained that she works as the head of Human Relations for one of the largest publishing companies in the US. She said she had been building teams for years; and knew she needed to build a team to make Sanaia Applesauce successful. Kevin expressed his concern about her inability to work full-time for Sanaia. Keisha said she couldn’t work full-time, but hired a COO who could manage the company when she’s not there.
Robert inquired about the amount of money raised for the company. Keisha said she has been self-funding the company and has put in $250,000 so far. She has another $250,000 in an account for the company. Mark Cuban was concerned about the glass jar product, stating that the shipping would be costly if sold on Amazon.
The Bahamian founder said the plastic applesauce cups cost $0.63 to make and sell for $1.02 wholesale and $1.79 retail. Kevin complained about the steep price, saying it is the most expensive applesauce in the US. Keisha defended the price by stating that their target consumer is not the same as that of brands already sold in stores. Mark said the glass jars would be difficult to sell, while the plastic cups were simple and easy to market as a grab-and-go snack.
Lori appreciated the idea and the demographic it catered to, but she had no love for applesauce, and for that reason, she was out.
Robert commended her presentation but didn’t like what she claimed as her projection and how she confused interest with orders, so he withdrew from the deal.
Barbara liked the products and prices, but she believed the numbers Keisha hoped for were too far-fetched, so she thought the offer she had in mind would insult the company. Keisha was curious about her offer; Barbara offered the $150,000 for 75% of her business. Keisha politely refused the offer, so Barbara was out.
Kevin thought it would be risky to invest in a company whose founder does not work full-time in their business. Keisha said she doesn’t have the means to quit her job and work full-time for her company, so Kevin withdrew from the deal.
Mark Cuban was the final shark in the tank. He was concerned about her position as an entrepreneur and the reason she wouldn’t dedicate herself to the company she founded. He saw her as someone who would check in now and then on the company rather than spend sleepless hours making it a success.
In an emotional twist, Keisha started tearing up in front of the sharks. In between sobs, she said she was financially responsible for several people in her family, and Sanaia Applesauce was the only thing she did for herself. She said she couldn’t squander her commitments to her family because she was the one that made it. The story left the sharks emotional. They agreed with her decision to continue working at her job while keeping her business on the side.
Mark was impressed by her character and made her a deal. He offered to invest $150,000 for 25% of the company as long as she focused on the plastic cups rather than the glass jars. Keisha agreed to Mark’s offer
Sanaia Applesauce Now in 2023 – The After Shank Tank Update
After Shark Tank, the deal with Mark Cuban was never finalized and Keisha had to make do on her own. She raised $750,000 and took the notes the sharks gave her to stick with the plastic cups. Production grew, and Sanaia Applesauce began selling her plastic cup applesauce in Walmart stores and other retailers across the country.
However, all production halted in 2020 when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. The company was out of business by 2021; they had to find another co-packer for their product.
In April 2022, Sanaia Applesauce relaunched, starting with two flavors: their unsweetened apple and guava were sold on Amazon and their website. The company started marketing again and sought retailers to sell her products in stores. Reviews of the product have been extremely positive, and customers were fans of the flavors in each applesauce cup.
With an incredible comeback story and a passion for applesauce, we can’t wait to see how Keisha and Sanaia Applesauce’s success story continues. For more information about their flavors and how to order, you can visit their website at: tastesanaia.com