With millions of people embracing the vegan lifestyle every year, plant-based meat products are in high demand. Atlas Monroe created a vegan fried chicken, founders Deborah and Jonathan Torres pitched the business on Shark Tank. Rohan Oza and Mark Cuban offered to buy the business but their offer was rejected. As of 2023, Atlas Monroe is worth $7 million.
About the Founders
Deborah and Jonathan Torres are from San Diego, California. Although the married couple pitched the business together, it was Deborah who invented the product. She grew up in Silicon Valley and her parents emigrated to the United States. Her father is from Guyana, and her mom lived in the UK.
Because of this, she was raised eating a range of international cuisine. Her two grandmothers were also restaurant owners, and fried chicken was a significant part of their family tradition.
Founding Atlas Monroe
After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Deborah’s father had to change his diet. As a concerned daughter, she took matters into her own hands. Deborah watched “Simply Raw”, a documentary where people with diabetes tried a raw vegan diet for a month and got healthy results. So, Deborah learned how to cook vegan food.
After her dad’s health improved, she experimented with making plant-based meat. This was how she invented 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. They handed out samples to the Sharks and they all liked the product.
As valuations and numbers were tossed around, the conversation quickly turned tense. Barbara Corcoran believed the company was too early to be investable. However, Mark Cuban, who is a vegetarian, was very intrigued.
Cuban initially offered $500,000 for a 30% stake but later persuaded guest Shark, Rohan Oza to make a bid for the entire company. They offered $1 million, plus a 10% royalty on sales to the founders, but the Torres’ rejected the deal and went home empty handed.
After Shark Tank
Turning down a million dollar offer must have been tough but the founders made the right decision! The surge in sales after Shark Tank led to Atlas Monroe purchasing a manufacturing facility in San Diego. They are now the “largest manufacturer of plant-based fried chicken” in the world.
To fund the facility they took a lot of pre-orders and fulfilled the orders a few months later. Thankfully, customers were patient and wanted to support them.
By the end of 2021, the company was producing one million pounds of chicken. Under Deborah’s leadership, the company has done over $2 million in sales since appearing on Shark Tank and were on track to make $5 million in 2021. Since then, the company hasn’t released any recent sales figures but it’s estimated that Atlas Monroe is making over $5 million per year.Apart from chicken, they now make other plant-based meat. They are no longer following just the direct-to-consumer approach and are supplying over 50 restaurants nationwide. Deborah also revealed in an interview, she wasn’t happy with how she was portrayed on the show. The edits were misleading and made it appear that she didn’t understand the numbers.