The Cupbop restaurant chain is known for introducing Korean barbecue to Utah, United States. It started out as a simple food truck but now the company has over a hundred locations across the country. Its founders, Jung Song and Dok Kwon came to Shark Tank and got a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban. As of 2023, Cupbop is worth an estimated $15 million.
About the Founders
Junghun Song and Dok Kwon are Korean natives who immigrated to the US. They settled down in Salt Lake City, Utah. Though the two of them are the public faces of the firm, it was Song who first came up with Cupbop.
However, there is not much known about the original founder. Dok Kwon, on the other hand, has revealed that he’s been residing in America since the age of 11. He previously worked as a hedge fund manager in New York City for seven years.
As an admirer of his culture, he became a genuine fan of Jung Song’s startup. Kwon got to know Song after being a regular customer at his food truck in the early years.
Establishing the Company
In 2013, after learning that Korean cooking was not included at a Utah food festival, Jung Song founded Cupbop, serving street-food-style Korean barbecue. Two of his friends helped him buy his first food truck.
Two years later, the firm expanded its reach by acquiring more trucks and opening a restaurant close to Brigham Young University in the city of Provo. To grow the company, Jung’s team organized community gatherings and sponsored marketing initiatives.
It was in 2019 that Dok Kwon officially joined Jung Song and became the CEO of Cupbop. In 2020, the firm had about 30 store locations in the US, making about $10 million annually.
Shark Tank Appearance
Cupbop was hailed as the best food truck enterprise in Utah. However, to develop into a national brand, Jung Song and Dok Kwon needed help from seasoned investors. So, in 2022, they appeared on season 13 of Shark Tank, offering $1 million in return for 3% equity.
The Sharks loved the product and how much the company had grown since its inception. This is why all the Sharks were eager to invest and a bidding war soon started.
When Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran decided to team up, asking for 5% for $1 million and 8% interest, Mark Cuban jumped into action. The entrepreneurs ended up agreeing to Cuban’s offer of $1 million for 5% equity. They only gave away two percent more than they initially planned.
After Shark Tank
In the year that Cupbop appeared on Shark Tank, they had 36 stores in the US, six food trucks, and a number of stands, including one in the Utah Jazz NBA Arena.
After its episode aired, thousands of emails were sent to the Korean barbeque company. Cupbop is currently planning to take its business global through strategic marketing and strategy.
At the time of writing, they have about 100 locations in Indonesia and six states in the U.S. This was a major factor when the restaurant chain surpassed $25 million in sales in 2021. In the future, that figure will grow along with its company value of $15 million. Currently, Cupbop is doing over $18 million in annual revenue.