Vegan alternatives to traditional meat products are on the rise. One example is Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, which was created as a substitute for beef jerky. The product was created by Michael Pan, who took his business to Shark Tank and got a deal with Mark Cuban. As of 2023, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky is worth $1,7 million.
About the Founder
Though Michael Pan is of Malaysian descent, he was raised in Vancouver, Washington. After graduating from Starkville High School, he attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study electrical and electronics engineering.
He got his bachelor’s degree in 2001. Before this, he worked as an electrical engineer intern at Motorola. After college, he was hired to be an electrical engineer at a startup called Raymond Professional Group.
Then, he went back to Motorola, where he was eventually promoted to design team leader. He held the same position when he transferred to Continental in 2006. After over six years, Pan became the VP of Product at the IT firm Fancred.
Establishing the Company
One day, the Washington native decided to go to Malaysia to meet several family members. Some of them turned out to be vegetarian Buddhist monks. They introduced Michael to a lot of tasty plant-based food.
However, the electrical engineer was most impressed when he tasted their mushroom jerky recipe that’s been in the family for years. Mushrooms also proved to be a great alternative to beef, and they contained additional vitamins and antioxidants.
This discovery inspired him to make his own vegan jerky recipe back in the States using shiitake mushrooms. In 2018, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky was launched under Panco Foods and in 2019, the startup made $755,000 in revenue.
Shark Tank Appearance
In 2020, Michael Pan appeared on season 12 and offered the Sharks $300,000 for 10% of his company. Around this time, his product was available in 500 stores in the US, but none of them were major brands. Because of this, the entrepreneur needed help getting into the bigger stores.
To get an investment, Michael convinced the Sharks about how his mushroom jerky has a low production cost. He also revealed that his problem was the product’s low profit margin of 10%. Fortunately, this didn’t seem to bother the Sharks.
Guest Shark Blake Mycoskie joined forces with Lori Greiner to offer $300,000 for 30%. However, Mark Cuban is actually a vegan and was more willing to offer a better deal. So he agreed with the entrepreneur’s counter of $300,000 for 18%.
After Shark Tank
In less than a day after appearing on television, the mushroom jerky company made about $650,000 in sales. After a week, the figure rose to a whopping $1 million. Because of this, they went out of stock on Amazon and their official website, MushroomJerky.com.
They also experienced shipping problems, which slowed down their growth. To resolve this, they hired more staff and signed partnership deals with brands like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Krogers.
Now, Micael’s operations are back at full strength, with over 3,500 retail locations in the country. This helped them make close to $5 million in annual sales. Pan’s Mushroom Jerky is currently valued at an estimated $1.7 million.