Rebel Cheese Shark Tank Season 15

Rebel Cheese Debut from Austin TX to Shark Tank

Rebel Cheese went live on Shark Tank Season 15 Episode 9.  The founders, Kirsten Maitland and Fred Swar asked $750,000 for a 5% equity stake of their vegan cheese shop. Their goal was to revolutionize the vegan cheese market. 

Rebel Cheese Origins

Kirsten Maitland and Fred Zwar, lifelong foodies-turned-vegan, are the minds behind Rebel Cheese. Maitland, especially, loved cheese and had a background in the restaurant industry. Zwar had experience in the tech industry. This husband and wife duo created a line of vegan cheeses that stand up on par with its dairy counterparts. They started with homemade experiments, but turned into dairy experts crafting a vegan cheese-making traditions as a new path in plant-based cuisine.

Founders Kirsten Maitland and Fred Zwar

Maitland and Zwar are by definition rebellious, and have strict standards for their cheeses:

It needs to be something you can unapologetically bring to your family gathering to be enjoyed by everyone from your vegan foodie sister-in-law to your meat-and-potatoes uncle (even if begrudgingly). After all, its held against a high standard: the deliciousness of the cheeses we all grew up with. So, it’s our commitment to preserve our most loved traditions – defying all the odds – proving the most delicious, crave-able, most rebelliously awesome cheese comes from plants.

From Austin, Texas to Everywhere

Rebel Cheese lives in Austin, Texas. The company’s went from aging cheese in a tiny 1-cubic-foot wine fridge to managing a 9,000 square foot factory. 

At the heart of Rebel Cheese’s journey is a deli in Austin, but they expanded to a staggering 78 locations. From New York, to Rhode Island, to North Carolina, Michigan New Hampshire, and Washington DC, Rebel Cheese consistently adds new retailer locations. Not all southern areas are covered, but this may be temporary.

Shark Tank Pitch

When Rebel Cheese presented their range of gourmet vegan cheese on Shark Tank, co-founders Kirsten Maitland and Fred Zwar offered the sharks a slice of their company at a significant valuation, seeking a $750,000 investment for a 5% equity stake.

Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner’s Offers

Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner saw a potential in Rebel Cheese and made an offer. Despite the initial ask which implied a $15 million valuation, they proposed $750,000 for a doubled equity stake of 10%. This counteroffer effectively halved the company’s pre-money valuation to $7.5 million but also brought the investment and expertise of two prominent sharks.

Maitland and Zwar countered, but Cuban and Greiner were firm on their offer, leading to a pivotal decision for the future of Rebel Cheese. The founders had to weigh their original $15 million valuation against the opportunity to partner with these sharks.

Emma Grede and Kevin O’Leary’s Inquiries

Meanwhile, Emma Grede and Kevin O’Leary jumped in the discussion, asking questions about company’s sales, growth trajectory, and strategic plans. 

In the end, the Rebel Cheese co-founders accepted the offer presented by Cuban and Greiner, securing the $750,000 for 10% equity and bringing two strategic partners onboard to enhance the company’s future expansion.

Rebel Cheese Products

Rebel Cheese elevates the vegan cheese experience with its gourmet range, offering flavors that cater to various palates and dietary preferences.

Vegan Cheese Varieties

Rebel Cheese takes plant-based cheeses to new heights, showcasing a diverse assortment of flavors. Among them, the Blueberry Vanilla Chèvre melds the unexpected zest of blueberries with the subtle sweetness of vanilla. Their options cater to both traditional and adventurous tastes with offerings similar to household cheese favorites.

Artisan Vegan Cheese Line

The artisan vegan cheese lineup from Rebel Cheese represents a creative twist on classic profiles, with the Farmer’s Cheese reflecting a careful blend of fresh herbs and lemon zest to achieve a savory, zestful tang. The smoked cheddar is artfully crafted, incorporating paprika and umeboshi vinegar to replicate the deep, smoky essence typically associated with traditional cheddar. These cheeses not only mimic the taste but also the mouthfeel of their dairy counterparts, making them a delight for those on a plant-based diet.

Rebel Cheese offers various gourmet vegan cheeses made from plants. Most of their products contain nutritional yeast, white rice flour, tree nuts, and organic coconut oil.

Some of the products offered by Rebel Cheese include:

  1. Rebel Chèvres: A range of cheeses made from cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, lemon juice, and other ingredients​.
  2. Blueberry Vanilla Chèvre: A cheese made with blueberries and vanilla​.
  3. Farmer’s Cheese: A cheese made with cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, lemon juice, white pepper, salt, fresh minced garlic, fresh oregano, fresh basil, fresh parsley, fresh chives, and fresh lemon zest​.
  4. Smoked Cheddar: A cheese made with cashews, water, rice flour, coconut oil, salt, miso, tamari, white vinegar, lactic acid, red bell pepper, smoked paprika, mustard powder, nooch, garlic powder, onion powder, annato, tomato paste, and umeboshi vinegar​.
  5. Rebel Sandwich Cheeses: A range of cheeses made with cashews, soy lecithin, probiotics, kappa carrageenan, lactic acid, tapioca flour, sea salt, and coconut oil
  6. Parmesan: Modeled after the italian classic, its main ingredients are cashews, soy, and coconut.

Business Growth and Strategy

Rebel Cheese demonstrates expanded its marketing plan by targeting both e-commerce, and wholesale partnership.

E-commerce and Wholesale Channels

By using ecommerce and wholesale, Rebel Cheese taps into the growing trend of online food subscriptions. This segment accounts for about 16% of the company’s total business. On the other hand, their wholesale program contributes 17%, reflecting the brand’s strong presence in retail locations across the US.

Rebel Cheese’s business strategy revolves around producing high-quality, gourmet vegan cheese made from plants that tastes like actual cheese. 

Their approach includes:

  1. Artisanal cheese-making: Rebel Cheese uses traditional cheese-making methods to create their vegan cheeses, ensuring a taste and texture that appeals to both vegans and non-vegans​.
  2. E-commerce and subscription services: Rebel Cheese sells their products through their website and offers a subscription service, making up about 16% of their business​.
  3. Wholesale program: They have a wholesale program that accounts for about 17% of their business​.
  4. Retail presence: Rebel Cheese owns a restaurant in Austin, Texas, which makes up 65% of their sales.
  5. Partnerships and collaborations: Rebel Cheese has collaborated with other brands, such as Boarderie, and offers custom boxes called Lori’s Box and Mark’s Box on their website​.
  6. Scaling operations: With the investment from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, Rebel Cheese aims to scale its operations and increase production to meet the rising demand for their gourmet vegan cheeses.

Target audience

The main target audiences of Rebel Cheese include:

  1. Vegans and vegetarians: These individuals are committed to a plant-based diet and are always looking for delicious and sustainable alternatives to traditional dairy products​.
  2. Health-conscious consumers: People who are concerned about their health and well-being may opt for plant-based cheese options as a healthier alternative to traditional cheese​.
  3. Environmentally conscious consumers: As awareness about the environmental impact of animal agriculture grows, more people are seeking plant-based alternatives, including vegan cheese​.
  4. Food enthusiasts: Rebel Cheese’s artisanal approach to vegan cheese-making appeals to food enthusiasts who value taste, texture, and quality​.

Sales and Revenue Milestones

Focusing on sales milestones, Rebel Cheese has marked an impressive milestone of achieving $2.5 million in revenue during 2022. This substantial figure underscores the company’s successful strategy in operating their restaurant, which remarkably comprises 65% of their overall sales, securing their foothold in a robust market segment.

Rebel Cheese Net Worth

The current projected net worth for Rebel Cheese is around $15 million

Marketing and Distribution Efforts

In terms of marketing and distribution, Rebel Cheese has taken an innovative turn by entering into strategic partnerships and creating custom boxes named after Shark Tank, aka the Shark Tank Box. This premium cheese box is sold for $115 on their website. which enhances brand visibility and adds a personal touch to their offerings. The infusion of investment from industry stalwarts Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner is targeted at scaling up operations, a move poised to amplify production capacity and distribution agility, further consolidating their headquarters as a nexus of gourmet vegan cheese distribution.

Expansion and Scalability

Rebel Cheese aims to broaden their presence, with a targeted goal to cross 500 stores by 2024. The brand’s strategy indicates a focus on scaling operations and accelerating growth—key metrics for investors assessing long-term value creation.

Health Impact

Nutritional AspectVegan CheeseNormal Cheese
CaloriesGenerally lower in caloriesHigher in calories
FatLower in total fatHigher in total fat
Saturated FatLower in saturated fatHigher in saturated fat
CholesterolContains no cholesterolContains cholesterol
SodiumCan be higher in sodiumCan be higher in sodium
ProteinLower in proteinHigher in protein
CalciumVaries depending on the product3Varies depending on the product
Differences between vegan cheese and normal cheese

When considering the health implications of consuming products like Rebel Cheese, the benefits extend from personal well-being to encompass a positive environmental impact. Here’s how your dietary choices can align with a healthier lifestyle and a better world.

Plant-Based Diet Benefits

Switching to a plant-based diet, which includes vegan options like Rebel Cheese, can offer you multiple health advantages. Studies show that plant-based diets are generally rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which contribute to improved heart health and a lower risk of chronic diseases. If you choose products from a vegan deli like Rebel Cheese, you’re often selecting foods lower in calories and higher in nutritional quality.

Sustainability and Animal Welfare

Your decision to consume plant-based products such as Rebel Cheese aligns with a more sustainable lifestyle. The brand’s commitment to environmental consciousness and animal welfare signifies a crucial step in reducing the environmental footprint associated with traditional dairy production. Moreover, the company’s ethical sourcing and cruelty-free practices ensure that you’re supporting a business that values the planet and its inhabitants.

Cholesterol-Free and Dairy-Free Advantages

Embracing a dairy-free and cholesterol-free diet can have specific health benefits, especially if you have dietary restrictions or are managing cholesterol levels. Vegan cheeses like Rebel Cheese are free from animal-derived cholesterol, which is beneficial for your cardiovascular health. Furthermore, dairy-free options can be accommodating if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer to avoid gluten for a gluten-sensitivity, ensuring that you don’t have to compromise on taste or quality.

Consumer Experience and Industry Presence

In this section, you’ll gain insight into Rebel Cheese’s trajectory in the food industry and how customers perceive their products. The company has made significant strides since appearing on “Shark Tank,” affecting both market presence and consumer opinion.

Customer Taste and Feedback

Rebel Cheese Reviews from
Rebel Cheese Reviews from

The reception of Rebel Cheese from a taste perspective has been largely positive. Customers often commend the quality of their vegan cheese offerings. Reviews on Yelp show a high level of satisfaction with the taste that rivals traditional dairy cheeses, positioning Rebel Cheese as a staple in the evolving restaurant scene. Their commitment to an exceptional culinary experience has garnered accolades and fostered a strong customer base intrigued by their innovative approach to vegan cheese.

Rebel Cheese in the Food Industry

Rebel Cheese has made a noteworthy impact within the food industry by breaking the stigma associated with vegan alternatives. Their market presence has grown since their exposure on Shark Tank, marking them as a key player in the plant-based specialty food sector. Their entry into an industry seeking sustainable options showcases a transformative approach to traditional cheese products.

Complementary Offerings and Partnerships

As you explore Rebel Cheese, you’ll find they’ve strategically expanded their offerings and forged partnerships to enhance your culinary experience.

Wine Shop and Food Pairings

At the Wine Shop, Rebel Cheese could pair up exquisite vegan cheeses with a curated selection of chocolate and wines. This isn’t just about enjoying a glass; it’s about creating a harmonious blend of flavors that complement the plant-based cheese selection. Whether you’re into bold reds or crisp whites, each wine is chosen to enhance the taste profile of the cheeses. You might find yourself pairing a smoked Gouda with a robust Cabernet Sauvignon or a soft Brie with a light Chardonnay.

  • Offerings:
    • Wine Selection: Carefully selected to pair with cheese products.
    • Pairing Expertise: Staff provides guidance on the best combinations.

Additionally, if you’re looking to elevate your home gatherings, you can opt for custom-designed Boarderies, which include a selection of cheeses artfully arranged with accompaniments on a board, perfect for any social event.

Collaboration with Mueller Neighborhood

Rebel Cheese has embraced the vibrant Mueller Neighborhood community, collaborating with local businesses to provide a holistic experience. The union with Pocket Pantry, for example, enhances the cheese shop’s selection by incorporating locally sourced ingredients into the cheeses. This collaboration brings a taste of Mueller Neighborhood to every bite.

Within the Mueller collaboration, they offer:

  • Pocket Pantry Products: Includes fresh local produce and goods.
  • Cakes Body Custom Desserts: Premium cakes and desserts, a sweet complement to the savory cheese offerings.

By integrating offerings such as specialized wines, premium accessory partnerships, and local Mueller Neighborhood collaborations, Rebel Cheese has created a comprehensive epicurean destination for connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike.

Social Media and Brand Presence

Rebel Cheese Shark Tank Season 15 - Instagram profile

Your understanding of Rebel Cheese’s success on Shark Tank isn’t complete without considering its strategic approach to social media and brand presence, especially on social media platforms like Instagram, where judges’ endorsements and marketing tactics converge to enhance its visibility and customer appeal.

Instagram Marketing Strategy

On Instagram, Rebel Cheese leverages high-quality images and clever captions to showcase their products, reflecting a cohesive aesthetic that aligns with their brand identity. By using targeted hashtags and posting at optimal times for engagement, they ensure maximum visibility for their vegan cheese offerings.

Influencer and Customer Engagement

Engaging with both influencers and customers, Rebel Cheese amplifies its reach and reputation. When judges from Shark Tank praise the brand, they capitalize on it by sharing these endorsements, which in turn boosts credibility and catalyzes conversation around the product. Customer testimonials shared on their page not only build trust but also encourage a community feel, reinforcing brand loyalty.

Seb is a PhD scientist by training, and an entrepreneur by heart. He started his first business while in elementary school, and he got in trouble for it! He then moved onto various online ventures, including consulting and e-commerce. Seb loved Shark Tank since he saw the first episode of Season one on TV. The rest is history.

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