More people nowadays are starting to embrace a vegan lifestyle. Plant-based meat products are in high demand, so Atlas Monroe formulated a vegan fried chicken, which was pitched on Shark Tank by Deborah and Jonathan Torres. Rohan Oza and Mark Cuban offered to buy the entire business but were rejected. As of 2022, Atlas Monroe is worth $7 million.
About the Founders
Deborah and Jonathan Torres are husband and wife from San Diego, California. Though it was the two of them who pitched the idea to Shark Tank, it was Deborah who was mostly involved in the creation of their groundbreaking dish.
She grew up in Silicon Valley, but neither of her parents is originally from the United States. Her father is from Guyana, and her mom spent much of her youth in the United Kingdom.
Because of this, she was raised eating international cuisine. Her two grandmothers were also restaurant owners, and fried chicken was a significant part of their family tradition.
Founding the Company
After receiving a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, Deborah’s father had to quickly and permanently alter his diet in order to halt the progression of his condition. The concerned daughter took matters into her own hands.
She saw a documentary titled Simply Raw, where people with diabetes tried a raw vegan diet for a month and got healthy results. So, Deborah taught herself to prepare vegan food.
After her dad’s state got better, she experimented by making plant-based meat. This was how she came up with the Atlas Monroe vegan fried chicken, which she entered into the VegFest competition and got the Best Dish award.
Shark Tank Appearance
With her husband, Deborah took her creation to Shark Tank in 2019. They offered 10% of their business in exchange for $500,000. The fried chicken samples they gave were praised by the Sharks.
As appraisals and numbers were tossed around, the conversation quickly turned tense and perplexing. Barbara Corcoran also thought that the company was too young. However, Mark Cuban, who is a vegetarian, was very intrigued.
Thus, he made the initial offer of $500,000 in return for 30% equity. Later on, he persuaded guest Shark, Rohan Oza, to work with him and buy 100% of the company. They offered $1 million, plus a 10% royalty on sales for the founders, but the Torres pair didn’t agree.
After Shark Tank
Cuban and Oza’s massive offer helped the aspiring entrepreneurs realize the potential of her business. This gave them the confidence that their company will do fine without the help of the Sharks.
Under Deborah’s leadership, Atlas Monroe is a privately held company doing well on its own. It acquired a multimillion-dollar factory, which helps produce about a million pounds of vegan products annually. Apart from chicken, they also expanded to making other plant-based meat.
Atlas Monroe has done over $2 million in sales through their website and Deborah stated in an interview they were on track to make $5 million in revenue for 2021. They also started supplying some restaurants nationwide. Deborah and her team are currently on course to become the largest manufacturer of plant-based fried chicken.