Billionaire Mark Cuban invested $300,000 in vegan brand Pan’s Mushroom Jerky in exchange for 18 percent equity in the company during a recent episode of reality series Shark Tank. Founded in 2008 by Portland, OR-based entrepreneur Michael Pan, the company makes vegan jerky from shiitake mushrooms in Original, Zesty Thai, Applewood BBQ, and Salt & Pepper flavors. Pan was inspired to create the company after visiting his family in Borneo where his vegetarian Buddhist cousin treated him to a mushroom snack that Pan initially thought was pork. Pan will use the funding to launch new flavors and expand distribution of his mushroom jerky.
During the Shark Tank episode, Pan—who initially wanted a $300,000 investment in exchange for 10 percent equity in the company—received offers from several of the investors (“Sharks”). He ultimately chose to go with Cuban’s offer given the Shark’s previous investments into plant-based companies. “It was validating and humbling to see how much the Sharks loved our jerky,” Pan said. “You work so hard and for so long to build a business, and to see them compete to be a part of it was incredible.”
Cuban—who recently went vegetarian—has previously invested in several vegan brands on Shark Tank, including dessert hummus company Delighted by Hummus, pork-free rinds brand Snacklins, and date-based spreads company Wanna Date?. In 2019, vegan meat brand Mrs. Goldfarb’s Unreal Deli received $250,000 in funding from Cuban in exchange for 20 percent of the company. Since then, the brand expanded the availability of its plant-based corned beef across the country, including at delis in several cities, select Whole Foods Markets, Veggie Grill locations nationwide, and 16 test locations of Quiznos in the Seattle area. Earlier this month, Cuban predicted that Unreal Deli is poised to generate $50 million in sales this year.