Coconut water is a thing of the past in the plant-based beverage market. Mo Hassoun and Kun Yang developed Pricklee Cactus to replace it. As the name suggests, it is made from pear cactus plants that are full of antioxidants and sustainable to grow. After the founders pitched it on Shark Tank, they got a deal with Barbara Corcoran. As of 2023, Pricklee Cactus is worth an estimated $3 million.
About the Founders
Mohammed Hassoun is considered the heart of the company. He is originally from Lebanon but relocated to the United States to study health sciences. Kun Yang is another healthcare enthusiast.
He is from Boston, and earned a bachelor’s degree in anatomy and cell biology at McGill University. Then, he became a Doctor of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
Though Mo and Kun were the only ones who pitched the product on Shark Tank, they have three other co-founders: Sarwang Shah, Aakash Dheri, and Jaanai Babb. All five met at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Founding the Company
Mo, Kun, Sarwang, Aakash, and Jaanai shared the same fondness for plant-based beverages. However, they believed that there are better alternatives to coconut water.
In 2017, Hassoun proposed a prickly cactus pear drink his grandmother used to make in Lebanon. The team tried it out and found that the drink was delicious and had numerous health advantages over other plant-based drinks.
The aspiring entrepreneurs used their money to start production and officially launched Pricklee Cactus in 2021. A few months after starting, the company was already making $50,000 a month. Impressive numbers for an early-stage beverage company.
Shark Tank Appearance
The business started well, but the founders need to scale fast. Mo and Kun appeared on season 13 of the show, asking for $200,000 for 5% of their startup. The Sharks liked the product. It was something they had never tried, and it caught them off-guard.
Some of the Sharks were cautious about investing as the beverage space is really competitive. Mark Cuban pointed out that they didn’t do a great job at promoting the main benefits of the cactus. Also, their anti-coconut stance was a little too much.
After four Sharks went out, Kevin O’Leary offered $200,000 for 20%. The founders asked if it could be done through a line of credit, but Mr. Wonderful wasn’t willing to budge. Barbara came back in and agreed to a $200,000 line of credit and 5% equity. For once Barbara gave a reasonable reason for being out and then ended up making a deal.
After Shark Tank
The Pricklee Cactus episode only aired in 2021 but the company is continuing to expand its distribution. The cactus drink is currently in 447 locations such as Stop & Shop, 7-Eleven, and Green Naturals Food. Over 90% of locations are on the North East Coast and currently, they are only in 7 stores on the West Coast.
They are also available online on Amazon and Pricklee.com. The beverage firm has a four-star rating on Amazon from over 385 reviews. With this success, the company is eyeing West Coast as a key driver of growth in 2023.
Pricklee Cactus hasn’t shared any recent revenue figures but should make around $500,000 to $750,000 in annual revenue. As a result, the business is worth an estimated $3 million. If the company can get the distribution and do over $10 million in annual revenue, it’s likely one of the big beverage companies will acquire them.