What Happened To Pan's Mushroom Jerky After Shark Tank?

Piquing the interest of several investors on "Shark Tank" is an accomplishment few entrepreneurs achieve. On Season 12, Episode 6 of the hit ABC show, that's exactly what happened for Michael Pan, founder of Pan's Mushroom Jerky.

The brand's story began in 2008 when Pan took a trip to Malaysia to visit family in the village where his father was born. Pan's family, who were Buddhist vegetarians, introduced him to a whole new world of food. One dish in particular — an old family recipe for shiitake mushroom jerky — would change the course of his life forever.

Struck by the taste and meat-like texture of his family's vegan jerky, Pan knew he needed to take the recipe home to the States and share it. Over the next 10 years, he continued his work as an engineer while testing mushroom jerky recipes from his kitchen. He created countless iterations, trying the recipe with different mushrooms and flavor additions. Once he perfected his recipe, he launched Pan's Mushroom Jerky in 2018 with four flavors: Original, Zesty Thai, Salt and Pepper, and Applewood Barbeque.

Vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, and rich in fiber and vitamin D, the shiitake jerky is positioned as a healthier, more sustainable alternative to meat jerky. After gaining some commercial success, Pan hoped some help from the Sharks could send his blossoming business into the stratosphere.

What happened to Pan's Mushroom Jerky on Shark Tank?

Upon entering the Tank, Michael Pan briefly ran through the details of his product, intentionally dancing around one key point: It was made from mushrooms. It wasn't until the Sharks took their first bite that he made the big reveal. The stunt paid off, with Lori Greiner exclaiming, "I love it even more now!" Once the investors were sufficiently impressed, Pan asked for $300,000 in exchange for 10% equity in his company.

As the Sharks grilled Pan for financial details, he rattled off impressive stats. In 2018, the jerky raked in $300,000 in sales, and the company more than doubled that the following year. In its third year of business, the company was on track to hit $1.5 million in sales. Unconvinced, Daymond John announced his exit, while Greiner and Blake Mycoskie conspired in the background. The pair made a joint offer: $300,000 for 30% equity, with each Shark receiving 15%. Mark Cuban quickly jumped in the ring, offering the same amount for 20% equity.

An outright battle ensued as the Sharks vied for a stake. "This show's not about getting the very best deal," Mycoskie told an overwhelmed Pan, "It's about getting the best partner." When it became clear Pan was leaning toward Cuban, Greiner made a last-ditch effort, ousting Mycoskie and offering $300,000 for 15% on her own. Ultimately, Pan struck a deal with Cuban, who came away with 18% equity in exchange for $300,000.

Pan's Mushroom Jerky After Shark Tank

Following Michael Pan's appearance on "Shark Tank," Pan's Mushroom Jerky saw a massive boost in sales. "We ended up selling about $1 million in sales online in about four days," Pan told The Food Institute in 2022. "We enjoyed it for maybe two days and then we shut the website off." The company racked up six times more orders than they anticipated, and Pan and his 10-person team struggled to keep up.

A week after the show aired, Pan posted a video update to Facebook from the company's shipping facility, ensuring buyers that his team was working diligently to get orders out as quickly as possible. Although he immediately began hiring more staff to keep up with the growing demand, it took Pan's fulfillment team nearly four months to complete the 33,000 orders.

In November 2022, a year after its "Shark Tank" episode aired, Pan's Mushroom Jerky became available at Sprouts Farmers Markets nationwide and expanded its Whole Foods presence to include the North East and North Atlantic regions, in addition to the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. That same month, Mark Cuban announced on Instagram that Pan's jerky was coming to select H-E-B locations in Texas. By December 2022, the products could also be found at select Albertsons and Safeway Stores. Pan told New Hope Network in 2021 that Cuban's marketing expertise and connections to wholesale accounts were "extremely valuable."

Is Pan's Mushroom Jerky still in business?

Pan's Mushroom Jerky continues to thrive. Its vegan jerky is now available in 3,500 stores nationwide. In addition to its new Curry and Teriyaki flavors, all four of the original flavors can also be purchased on the company's website. As the popularity of plant-based foods continues to grow, Pan's jerky has enjoyed a slew of good press from media heavy-hitters like The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, Eater, Us Weekly, Food & Wine, and The Food Network. Today even deemed Pan's jerky "among the best of the vegan jerkys."

While supporters celebrate the jerky for its bold flavor and meat-like texture, Michael Pan regularly credits his team with the company's continued success. "Part of the secret recipe is having the right people," he said in a 2022 Indeed for Business ad. To that point, Pan told New Hope Network that hiring more staff after the initial "Shark Tank" boom proved to be a great business move. "I still wear many hats, but now I have a support network that's going to help us grow faster and smarter."

Pan's choosiness with new opportunities also played a role in the company's growth. "It's treading a balance of being aggressive, having a goal and a target to hit, while not over-committing," he told Shopify in 2022, stressing the importance of maintaining good business relationships.

What's next for Pan's Mushroom Jerky?

Looking toward the future, Michael Pan says he intends to focus on making and selling more products. "We're taking the path of a controlled growth mode and trying to make the right decision to slowly but steadily — and as fast as we can — grow with the funding we have," Pan told Inspired Insider. To do so, Pan says his company will continue taking advantage of the plant-based boom currently sweeping the nation. "We're just excited to be part of this movement and hopefully lead the way," he noted.

In 2023, Pan told AQUALAB that going forward, he aims to capture more of the meat-eating market. "It's now really about people who are becoming more aware of all the benefits of reducing meat in general," he said, "whether that's because of health concerns, safety, [or] animal welfare."

Pan also told Shopify that further expanding his team is paramount to his plans for future growth. "I'm very proud of how we got here today and the people who have helped build us up to this point," he explained, "but now we know that we need help and we need a good team to take us to that next level." In 2023, Pan's staff tripled in size while his manufacturing space doubled, according to the company's website. With more space and manpower to carry out operations, Pan's team will be able to produce four times more jerky than in previous years.