Empanada is deeply rooted in Argentinian cuisine. Ariel Barbouth aimed to share it with the Western world when he founded Nuchas, which became one of the biggest kiosks in Time Square. The founder pitched the company on Shark Tank with one of the show’s highest valuations but couldn’t strike a deal. As of 2023, Nuchas is worth an estimated $8 million.
Ariel Barbouth’s Background
Ariel Barbouth was born in Argentina and currently lives in Weehawken, New Jersey. He attended Boston University to get a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering and a master’s degree in innovation and technology.
He originally traveled with his wife, Leni, to New York with only $9,000 in the bank. But after his final year as a university student, the Argentinian was hired as an analyst at Republic National Bank.
After that, he was recruited to become a manager at Aconcagua Capital Group. This was his last job before getting into the good business and has been an entrepreneur for more than nine years.
When the married couple immigrated to the US with plans of starting a business in their new home. They wanted to introduce Argentinian empanadas into New York City and grow the brand quickly.
Ariel got a kiosk in the renowned hotspot in Times Square in 2010. His iconic empanada was the most popular menu item, but he also served other internationally inspired-dishes. This all helped Nuchas get a good head start.
The founder then opened a food truck and locations on Wall Street and Greeley Square Park. After nine years in business, the Time Square store alone averaged about $800,000 in sales annually.
Appearing on Shark Tank
By 2019, Nuchas was already a force to be reckoned with. Sales were growing, but Ariel Barbouth knew he needed massive capital to take his company to the next level. He appeared on season 10 of Shark Tank, requesting $2 million for an 8% equity stake.
The valuation was hefty, so straightaway Sharks wanted to find out about sales. The founder gave them an impressive answer, but not all of them were willing to make an offer. Daymond John was the first to make an offer of $2 million but for 25% of the business, not a great offer to be honest.
Barbara Corcoran also proposed $1 million cash and a $1 million loan for 100% of the Nuchas’ retail business. Barbara was keen to grow through franchising but Ariel’s valuation was too high. After multiple counter offers the gap was too wide and a deal couldn’t be done.
What’s Happened After Shark Tank
A year after appearing on television, Nuchas was hit hard by the pandemic. However, it slowly got back on its feet and is now doing better than ever. He launched an online store and opened up food stalls in other high-traffic locations like Jacob Javits Center and Georgia World Congress Center.
He also started delivering orders with DoorDash’s DashMart, an accelerator program for startups. The original Nuchas stand in Time Square has a 3.5-star rating from 267 reviews on Yelp. In total they have 5 physical locations with various truck and mobile locations.
Overall, Nuchas currently makes over $5 million per year, and is worth an estimated $8 million. Most likely, the company is making a net profit of around $800,000 to $1 million.