Expedition Subsahara sells woven baskets and other hand-crafted home decorations inspired by her homeland of Africa. Sofi Seck pitched her business on season 14 of Shark Tank but didn’t get a deal. As of 2023, Expedition Subsahara is worth an estimated $3 million.
Sofi Seck’s Background
Sofi Seck is originally from Senegal, West Africa, and moved to the United States at 14 years old. She settled in Florissant, Missouri, and attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Seck was always proud of her roots and was born into the Wolof Tribe, as part of the Jolof Empire they dominated inland Senegal in the 14th to 16th centuries and built a reputation for international trade.
The tribe was also known for its weaving. Mothers and grandmothers passed down the art form to their children, so Sofi learned about it at a young age. Before starting her latest business, she worked as a photographer.
Founding Expedition Subsahara
The Senegalese native had to stop working out due to a severe back injury from powerlifting. It left her bedridden for several months, during this time the idea behind Expedition Subsahara was ignited.
Once Sofi got back on her feet, she launched the business in 2017. The company employs over 120 experienced weavers from Senegal and they make beautiful baskets, vases, and other decors.
The business is more about making money. When Sofi started the business she pledged to donate 20% of her revenue to building a STEAM school for girls in her homeland.
Getting on Shark Tank
Sofi initially didn’t have any plans to go on television, but one day she randomly got an email from a Shark Tank producer asking for more details about her company. She is a big fan of the show and couldn’t turn down the opportunity. After some interviews and boring paperwork, the entrepreneur got accepted.
Shark Tank Appearance
Sofi was clearly nervous during the pitch and talked quite fast. Maybe it’s because she was seeking $500,000 for a 10% equity stake. The company made $900,000 in year-to-date sales and $3.6 million in lifetime sales. The sales figures wowed the Sharks!
In 2021, Expedition Subsahara made a gross profit of $1 million but a net profit of $75,000 as she was re-investing the majority of revenue back into the business. The Sharks didn’t like how much workers were being paid and customer acquisition costs were too high. Sadly, the Sharks didn’t see it as a viable business and the valuation didn’t make sense.
After Shark Tank
Although her pitch didn’t go as planned, Shark Tank fans have supported her mission. The business is generating strong sales online and they are working on reducing paid marketing costs. Expedition Subsahara made over $1 million in 2022 and is worth an estimated $3 million.
Their range of products is expanding and currently sell baskets, vases, coasters, trays and vases. The prices range from $39 to $135. In the past, Sofi hasn’t had any trouble getting publicity and this hasn’t changed after the show. Seck revealed after her episode aired, several people contacted her about investing in her company.
You can purchase their products on the website, ExpeditionSubsahara.com. One of Expedition Subsahara’s bestsellers is the Yata Basket, which is rated 5 stars from 20 reviews on their website. Sofi plans to expand into retail in 2023 and hopes to open a girls school in Senegal.