One of the hardest things about going vegan is missing the taste of pork. Fortunately, plant-based meat products are slowly being introduced to the market. Amanda Stiles and Beth Zotter created Umaro, which is bacon that’s made with seaweed. After pitching it on Shark Tank, they got a deal with Mark Cuban. As of 2023, Umaro is worth $15 million.
About the Founders
Amanda Stiles is a research scientist from Berkeley, California. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Tech. At the same institution, she received her Ph.D. in plant molecular biology.
Beth Zotter is from the San Francisco Bay Area and studied public policy and environmental science at Harvard University. Beth has a master’s degree in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley, where Amanda conducted her postdoctoral research.
Stiles applied most of her research by working for companies like Ripple Foods, Activate, and American Journal Experts. On the other hand, Zotter worked in different roles at firms like Energetics, Inc., Bio Architecture Lab, and Cyclotron Road.
Founding the Company
Zotter had a lot of experience in renewable energy, and one day, she was granted $5 million by the Department of Energy to create seaweed farms for alternative fuel. In this project, she discovered that seaweed was a great source of protein.
This gave her the idea to develop a plant-based version of a beloved food item, bacon. She sought out an expert in plants and protein in Berkeley and found Amanda.
Because the two ladies shared the same goals, they worked together on creating Umaro, the first vegan alternative to bacon. The company launched in 2018 and got a $3 million investment from Clear Current Capital in early 2022.
Shark Tank Appearance
After creating their first 500 bacon slices, Amanda and Beth needed to raise more capital. They appeared on season 13 of Shark Tank, asking for $500,000 in exchange for a 2% stake. A $25 million valuation is massive and the company would need to raise more money in the future which would dilute the Shark’s equity.
Aside from bacon, they are planning to introduce more seaweed-based meat products. Most of the Sharks believed them, and Kevin O’Leary was the first to make an offer. However, it was Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner who battled it out.
Lori tried to play the empowering women card but that flopped. Ultimately, Mark won by accepting Beth and Amanda’s counteroffer of $1 million for 7%.
After Shark Tank
Umaro’s deal with Mark Cuban was one of the biggest in Shark Tank’s recent history. Currently, it appears that their deal with Mark Cuban hasn’t closed yet. Cuban lists out all of his Shark Tank investments on markcubancompanies.com and Umaro isn’t on the list!
Umaro is still working on releasing its seaweed bacon to the general public. According to UmaroFoods.com, it’s available in nine restaurants in areas such as New York, Nashville, San Francisco, Orlando and Atlanta. They will launch their 10th restaurant soon in New York.
Umaro is positioned to succeed in the coming years with millions in funding at its disposal. Though the company is yet to start mass production, it’s already worth an estimated $15 million. They are also working on improving the taste of the product.