There’s a long list of shiny products that claim to help with weight, and Minus Cal bars is another addition. Founders, Crom Carmichael and Barrett Jacques claimed their new protein bar could block fat absorption. They pitched on Shark Tank but didn’t get a deal. As of 2023, Minus Cal is worth $0 as they went out of business.
The Founders’ Backgrounds
Raised in South Bend, Indiana, Crom Carmichael met Barrett Jacques when he moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Both men are alumni of Vanderbilt University, where Crom got his master’s degree and Barrett earned his business degree.
Carmichael started his career as a columnist for the Nashville Tennessean. Then, he became a business and political commentator for WLAC-AM and WSMV-TV. After retiring from his media career, he worked as an angel investor.
On the other hand, Jacques initially made a name for himself in the music industry. After college, he was signed as a recording artist with Sony Music Entertainment and a songwriter for Sony Music Publishing.
Founding Minus Cal
When Barrett was working on expanding his investment portfolio, he thought that a healthy protein bar startup could be profitable. While formulating his product, he discovered Choleve, an ingredient derived from green tea.
He worked with Crom to extract Choleve from green tea and increased the concentration by 20 times. Otherwise, you would need to drink gallons of green tea to get the health benefits from Choleve.
The business was incorporated in 2017 and the founders claimed the supplement had the ability to keep the small intestine from taking in fat.
Shark Tank Pitch
Crom and Barrett appeared on season 11 of Shark Tank, asking for $500,000 in return for a 20% equity stake. They got off to a bad start when Robert Herjavec said the product didn’t taste very good and the old man responded by saying “what?”.
The entrepreneurs went on with their presentation, but the Sharks were out for blood. Mark Cuban was skeptical and had a lot of questions about the validity of their claims. Carmichael fought back to defend the product and Barrett was a bit more timid.
The Sharks also didn’t like the valuation, especially as they didn’t have substantial sales to fall back on. Not surprisingly, the duo left the Tank emptied handed.
The Downfall of Minus Cal
Near the end of the episode, Cuban warned the audience not to buy any of the products. It appears viewers took the billionaire’s advice as the company struggled after Shark Tank. The weight loss industry is a highly competitive space and Minus Cal didn’t have the money to spend on advertising.
Customers who tried the product mostly published negative reviews, it averaged 1.9 stars on Amazon out of ten users. As a result, Minus Cal’s social media presence started to go quiet in 2019 and they later shut down its online store.
The lack of scientific research was a red flag for potential customers. Minus Cal officially went out of business in 2020, and they didn’t release any sales figures.