LOS ANGELES — The founders of Pulp Pantry and Pricklee accepted investment deals during appearances on the television show “Shark Tank.” Both brands were featured on the episode that aired May 6.
Pulp Pantry, Los Angeles, offers tortilla-style chips formulated with the waste collected from vegetable juice processors. Pulp Chips contain the celery and kale scraps from organic juice production, plus other plant-based ingredients such as chia seeds, cassava and lucuma fruit. The snacks also incorporate okara, a byproduct of manufacturing soy milk and tofu. Flavors include jalapeño lime, salt and vinegar, barbecue and sea salt.
“In the United States we waste 54 million tons of food every single year,” founder and chief executive officer Kaitlin Mogentale, a self-described “food waste warrior,” told the panel of multimillionaire and billionaire investors. “We take the thousands of pounds of organic produce that would otherwise go unloved every single week and upcycle them into a line of real veggie chips that are made from, you guessed it, real, fresh vegetables. Not corn, not potato starch, and certainly not grains, for that matter.”
Ms. Mogentale requested $500,000 in exchange for 10% equity in the business. She accepted a deal with Mark Cuban, who offered $500,000 for a 17% stake. Mr. Cuban’s investments in the food industry have included Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, Mrs. Goldfarb’s Unreal Deli, Snacklins, Mush and more.
“Mark Cuban has invested in this space,” Ms. Mogentale said after agreeing to the offer. “He knows how to help brands that are our stage and size. He is going to be such an asset to have on our team.”
Pricklee, a Boston- and New York-based startup launched by five pharmacists, highlights the health and hydration benefits of the cactus fruit in a range of ready-to-drink offerings that contain half the sugar and calories of coconut water. The beverages are made with filtered water, prickly pear puree, agave nectar and lemon juice. Varieties include original prickly pear, mango ginger and strawberry hibiscus.
During the pitch, founders Kun Yang and Mohammed Hassoun discussed the brand’s origins.
“Growing up in Lebanon, my grandma used to make it from the prickly pear,” Mr. Hassoun said of the beverage. “The actual pulp that’s in there, she used to juice that, remove the seeds, remove the spines from the outside, and we used to drink that as kids growing up.”
Years later, he became inspired to recreate his favorite childhood refreshment.
An abundant and sustainable crop, the prickly pear cactus may be found in more than 30 countries and has numerous uses in Mexican cuisine and culture. Mr. Yang said cactus water has a pleasant, approachable taste combining hints of watermelon and bubblegum.
“Coconut water’s time has come and gone,” he said, describing cactus water as “Mother Nature’s ultimate thirst quencher.”The investors expressed reluctance in backing a beverage business, noting the specific challenges and risks involved. Eventually, the Pricklee pair agreed to Barbara Corcoran’s offer of $200,000 as a line of credit for a 5% stake.