Truffles are up there with caviar as expensive ingredients that people love to eat. Only premium restaurants typically have access to these rare specimens, but Truffle Shuffle has made them available directly to the masses. Founders Jason McKinney and Tyler Vorce pitched their business on Shark Tank and clinched a deal with Mark Cuban. As of 2023, Truffle Shuffle is worth an estimated $6 million.
About the Founders
Tyler Vorce is from Oakland, California but not much is known about his formal education. Vorce learned his trade serving as a sous chef at The French Laundry, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant.
That was where he met Jason McKinney, a Poissonnier from Georgia, USA. Before working at The French Laundry, he used his culinary skills at Sea Island Resort and also worked with Hawkeye Ranch.
Although the two guys appeared on the show, their food company has a third co-founder, Sarah Rundle-McKinney. She is the wife of Jason and also met the two amigos working at The French Laundry.
Founding the Company
Tyler, Jason, and Sarah discovered a business opportunity in sourcing truffles, a cooking ingredient so valued that it even has a black market dedicated to it. The trio searched for authentic truffle hunters and worked directly with them.
They launched Truffle Shuffle in 2018 and sold truffles to high-end restaurants. Eventually, the aspiring entrepreneurs got a deal with Whole Foods, but things changed when the pandemic hit.
Restaurants closed down but they still had $20,000 worth of unsold truffles. Instead of feeling discouraged, they decided to sell to businesses and consumers online. They started doing virtual cooking shows and this change helped them do $1.4 million in revenue for 2021.
Shark Tank Appearance
When social distancing rules were phased out, the founders were stuck in a dilemma of whether to go back to their original business model or stick with the new one. Jason and Tyler sought help from the Sharks in season 12, seeking $500,000 for 5%.
The guys made a strong start to the pitch and grabbed the Sharks’ attention, The business had healthy margins and revenue was growing every year. Despite having $1.4 million in year-to-date sales, the business only made a net profit of $8,000 and had cash flow problems.
Robert Herjavec was the only one willing to make an offer, he offered $500,000 for 20%. Mark Cuban all of a sudden showed some interest and the founders were hoping they could do a joint deal. Cuban went solo and invested $501,000 for 18%.
After Shark Tank
Since appearing on Shark Tank, the company is still thriving and has continued their direct-to-consumer business model. Although they chose Cuban, Robert would have been a much better partner as Mark’s portfolio is too big to give these guys much time.
The truffle company is currently in 75% of all Whole Foods locations. Interested parties can purchase their goods online on Amazon and their official website, TruffleShufflesf.com.
With their ongoing virtual cooking classes, Truffle Shuffle has built a strong community. They are rated 4.8 stars from 58 customers on Facebook. Truffle Shuffle haven’t released any recent sales figures but they should be making around $3 to $4 million in annual revenue. Currently, the company is worth an estimated $6 million and have 26 employees.