Jicama, also known as the Mexican turnip, is a nutrient-rich root plant that can serve as a delicious snack. The husband-and-wife duo of Xin and Melissa Colella-Wang fell in love with the tasty veggie and started a food company based on it. They got the opportunity to pitch their product on the latest episode of Shark Tank and got a deal with Barbara Corcoran. As of 2023, JicaFoods is worth an estimated $5 million.
About the Founders
Xin and his partner, Melissa Colella-Wang, are based in Rowland Heights, California. He studied illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has a master’s degree in package design from Pratt Institute.
On the other hand, Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wellesley College. She was part of an NCAA Division III swimming team in college. Unfortunately, not much is known about her career after graduating.
As a couple, the two loved snacking so much that it became their biggest temptation. They started running marathons, but their main goal was to replace unhealthy snacks with something healthier.
Founding the Company
In 2015, the Wang couple decided to take a vacation to Mexico. There, they got their first taste of the jicama vegetable and were instantly hooked. They later found out about its health benefits and got what they wished for.
When the two got home, they immediately thought of sharing the flavor of jicama with the world through starting a business. They sold three jicama-based food items: JicaSticks, JicaWraps, and Jica de Gallo.
After getting funding from AccelFoods, JicaFoods officially launched in 2015. The founders participated in local trade shows, which helped them drive sales in the early years of the business.
Getting on Shark Tank
Xin and Melissa have put a lot of effort into educating the public about the perks of eating jicama. This got them many distribution deals and JicaFoods is now available in over 1,600 stores in the Southwest of America.
The company is looking to expand their presence into new locations. Moreover, they are still selling directly to consumers. For these reasons and more, the founders needed to raise capital and wanted to bring on a Shark.
After Shark Tank
JicaFoods’ progress has been steady since it launched, but as expected, appearing on national television led to a big upswing in sales. Also, the number of searches for jicama vegetables on Google will skyrocket over the coming days.
Their healthy snacks can be purchased in selected locations at Walmart, Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Sprouts. They have a website, JicaFoods.com, but you can’t order directly from there but it shows some recipes and their store locations.
The company already has 8,000 followers on Instagram, and its products mostly have positive reviews online. JicaFoods is currently valued at $5 million, which may change due to the Shark Tank effect. The business now has 7 full-time employees.