Plant-based meat startups have found a home in Shark Tank. The most recent addition to the bunch is Meat the Mushroom, with their flagship product Shroomacon, a mushroom-based bacon alternative. Recently, Marvin and Aleah Rae Montague pitched their product on show and got a deal with Kevin O’Leary. After Shark Tank, Meat the Mushroom is worth an estimated $2 million.
Meet the Montague’s
Shroomacon stands out from other plant-based bacon as it’s not made in a mold. No two Shroomacon slices look the same but are free of gluten, soy, and cholesterol.
It’s hard to believe Marvin Montague Jr. made this possible by accident. Since he was a child, he had been plagued by asthma and heart disease. When he turned vegan, it only took a year for his illnesses to disappear.
Because of this, he wanted to share the benefits of veganism through starting a vegan restaurant with his wife. At that time, Aleah was working in the marketing department of several online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
The Montagues wanted the restaurant to be natural, not relying too much on soy as the main source of protein for their menu items. However, they didn’t follow through with the plan after realizing they could help more people taking the retail route.
Founding Meat the Mushroom
Marvin experimented with mushrooms for a year. Eventually, he found the five golden ingredients to make it taste like pork: king oyster mushrooms, olive oil, natural smoke flavor, black pepper, and salt.
There were no unnecessary additives or processing. In 2021, Meat the Mushroom released its first product, the Shroomacon. Marvin and Aleah entered a market that was becoming more condensed, but still made it work.
The husband-and-wife team sold out regularly at farmer’s markets and has caught the attention of celebrities like Tabitha Brown and Keri Hilson. More importantly, the pair got the green light from Shark Tank producers to appear on season 15 after an intense application process.
After Shark Tank
Aleah talked to the founders of Like Air to help them prepare for the large boost in sales. Shroomacon was out of stock this week and just restocked in time for Friday’s episode. The deal with Kevin should close in the next three months.
Previous customers on their “friends and family” email will get priority on orders. New customers may have to wait a little longer to receive orders.
On MeatTheMushroom.com’s store locations page, you can see what retail stores sell the products. Currently, Shroomacon is sold in stores in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta, Madison, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, Portland, and more. In an interview with BizJournals.com, Marvin Montague Jr. believes Shark Tank could get its products into 1,000 grocery stores by the end of 2024.
The Black-owned business sells 4-packs for $48 and 8-packs for $88. These two items combined have almost 400 5-star customer reviews on Judge.me. The founders are planning to expand their product line by formulating mushroom-based chorizo and boneless ribs.
It will be quite a challenge as mushrooms are currently on trend in the vegan market. The underrated ingredient is being used as a primary component for meat alternatives by industry behemoths like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Among Meat the Mushroom’s prospective competitors is Umaro Foods, a startup that closed a $1 million deal with Mark Cuban.