Toast-It Shark Tank Update: What Happened After the Pitch?

Toast-It pitched the Sharks on Season 15 with on the idea of bringing a Latin American staple to the mainstream American market in a convenient and ready-to-eat format.

Shark Tank Facts

Shark: Daniel Lubetzky

Investment: $150,000 for 20% equity

Valuation: $750,000

Season, Episode: 15,2

Toast-It Brand Overview

The company was founded in Miami, Florida, by two Venezuelan sisters who were on a mission to share their love for Latin culture through delicious, convenient food options. Their product, a range of frozen arepas, targets the increasing demand for ethnic foods that are both accessible and quick to prepare.

Product Offerings

Toast-It Arepa: At the heart of their product line is the Toast-It arepa, a staple in Venezuelan cuisine, which they have transformed into a convenient, heat-and-eat format. These arepas are crafted to capture the essence of Latin American food, offering a taste of Venezuela in every bite. Tailored to health-conscious consumers, the arepas are not only delicious but also gluten-free, catering to dietary needs without compromising on flavor.

Vegan Options: Understanding the diversity of dietary preferences, Toast-It has included vegan options in their product range. They have tapped into the rich tapestry of Latin American food traditions to create offerings that are both inclusive and representative of the culinary heritage.

Preservative-Free: Toast-It takes pride in their commitment to health and authenticity, which is why their arepas are free from added preservatives. They believe in the importance of clean eating and have designed their products to align with that philosophy.

Cassava and Maize Ingredients: The core ingredients of their arepas highlight traditional Latin American staples such as cassava and maize. By focusing on these indigenous crops, Toast-It emphasizes the authenticity and cultural significance of their offerings, providing a connection to Latin America through food.

Expanding Flavor Palette: Beyond arepas, Toast-It has expanded their palate by incorporating other Latin American favorites like cassava and cheese bites, which complement their flagship product and provide a broader taste of the region’s culinary diversity.

Inception and Growth

Founding Sisters

Mafe and Coco Cabezas, Venezuelan sisters and entrepreneurs, are the foundational pillars of Toast-It. They sought to fuse their rich Venezuelan roots with the growing demand for multicultural cuisine in the United States. Their strategic approach led to the creation of arepas that are both guilt-free and expressive of the sisters’ shared history. Mafe, with her keen business acumen, and Coco, with her passion for traditional Latin flavor, have uniquely positioned their brand to resonate with consumers seeking out an authentic Latin experience. Their commitment to quality and cultural authenticity has propelled Toast-It from a nascent idea to a prominent Latina-owned food brand known for its Venezuelan staples.

Shark Tank Appearance

Investment Details

Daniel Lubetzky, entrepreneur and CEO of Kind LLC, saw potential in this venture and decided to make an offer. He agreed to invest $150,000 in exchange for a 20% equity stake in the company, setting the actual valuation of the company at $750,000. And also it demonstrates confidence in Toast-It’s business model and projected growth margins.

The other Sharks, including notable figures like Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban, Daymond John, and Lori Greiner, were also active during the negotiation.

Product Differentiation

Toast-It has differentiated itself in the market through careful product design that caters to health-conscious consumers and trends toward mindful eating. From unique ingredient choices to its convenient form, Toast-It redefines quick-to-prepare meals.

Unique Features

Ready-to-Toast Convenience: Toast-It provides consumers with a frozen product that is easy to prepare, aligning with the active lifestyles of its customers who seek both convenience and quality.

  • Original Flavor and Texture: Utilizing masarepa, a precooked corn flour, Toast-It ensures the authentic taste of traditional Latin American cuisine is preserved, offering a genuinely original experience for the palate.
  • Health-Focused Composition: Each serving is designed to appeal to health-conscious individuals, incorporating chia and flaxseed for added nutritional benefits, such as increased protein and essential omega fatty acids.
  • Dietary Inclusivity: Recognizing the importance of dietary needs, Toast-It has ensured their products are vegan-friendly, allowing a broader audience to enjoy their offerings without concern over animal-derived ingredients.
  • Balanced Nutritional Content: Designed to support a balanced diet, Toast-It’s products carefully consider their nutritional profile, providing a source of energy without excessive glucose spikes.

Retail and Online Presence

Toast-It has expanded its visibility through retail partnerships and a robust social media presence. Their Instagram account boasts more than 22,000 followers, with their Shark Tank video flagging more than 2,000 views.

Key Retail Partners

Toast-It has established a notable retail presence within prominent grocery chains, enhancing the distribution of their frozen product line. Among their key retail partners:

  • Publix: A dominant presence in the Southeast, Publix offers Toast-It’s arepas in numerous locations, providing consumers with convenient access to this versatile food item.
  • Walmart: As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart’s inclusion of Toast-It in select stores has significantly increased the brand’s nationwide reach.
  • Whole Foods: Known for a focus on healthy and organic foods, Whole Foods is an ideal fit for Toast-It’s all-natural arepas, aligning with the preferences of health-conscious consumers.
  • Winn-Dixie: With its strong base in the Southeast, Winn-Dixie has added Toast-It arepas to its freezer aisles in various stores, catering to regional tastes and preferences.

The company also leverages direct-to-consumer sales through its website, providing an online shopping option for those who prefer the convenience of home delivery or live outside the Northeast and Southeast regions where most of their retail partners operate. Toast-It’s digital presence is both a storefront and an information hub for arepa enthusiasts.

By channeling efforts into both physical grocery stores and their digital platform, Toast-It ensures that their arepas are just a few clicks or a short walk away for most customers, supporting their mission to bring Venezuelan cuisine to more tables across the country.

Market Penetration

Toast-It has demonstrated a strategic approach in penetrating the US market, particularly by focusing on the rich tapestry of Latin American culinary traditions.

Demographic Reach

Toast-It has targeted a diverse customer base by providing convenient access to authentic Latin American staples. Their product range appeals to both the Hispanic community and a broader demographic seeking healthful and convenient options within the Latin food arena.

  • Miami: As a city with a substantial Latin American population, Miami has been a significant market for Toast-It. The company’s presence in Florida’s retail sector marks a tactical move to capture the tastes of a city renowned for its Hispanic food influence.
  • Texas: With a vibrant and growing demographic interested in South American cuisine, Texas represents another strategic point of market entry. Toast-It’s expansion into Texas leverages the state’s demand for Venezuelan cuisine and other Latin American staples.

By focusing on these key areas and demographics, Toast-It has been strengthening its market presence, providing a staple that resonates with cultural authenticity and convenience.

Business Operations

Production And Logistics

Toast-It’s production infrastructure has been designed to maintain high margins while catering to increasing sales, indicating a robust operational model post their Shark Tank exposure. The co-founders, Mafe and Coco, have established a scalable manufacturing system that has been crucial in their expansion into Florida’s retail market, including stores like Walmart and Publix.

Logistics for Toast-It is a critical component, ensuring products are delivered efficiently to their retail partners. The deal with Daniel Lubetzky, which involved a $150,000 investment for 20% equity, has likely provided capital to bolster their logistics framework, facilitating their recent partnership with Whole Foods and reinforcing the distribution channels necessary to meet consumer demand across multiple states. This strategic approach suggests a keen understanding of operational demands coinciding with retail growth.

Customer Engagement

Marketing Strategies

Toast-It’s marketing strategies are multifaceted, emphasizing social media presence, with a strong focus on Instagram. They utilize appealing visual content to showcase their products, catering to the health-conscious and those with dietary restrictions. Each Instagram post is carefully crafted to highlight the innovation in their ready-to-toast arepas, often emphasizing that they’re gluten-free and suitable for a vegan diet, which appeals to a broad audience looking for guilt-free eating options.

The company further leverages its Shark Tank exposure by offering a special Shark Tank bundle, which creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency. This clever marketing tactic not only commemorates their appearance on the show but also capitalizes on the show’s large, engaged viewership to boost sales and enhance its customer base.

Additional Product Lines

Following their success on Shark Tank, Toast-It has broadened its horizons with innovative offerings that cater to a variety of taste preferences within the frozen food market. These expansion efforts not only showcase the brand’s commitment to delivering convenience but also its dedication to embracing the rich flavors of Latin American cuisine.

Expansion into New Markets

Toast-It has introduced a line of pandebono bites, a beloved snack in Colombian culture, that can be easily prepared in an air fryer or toaster oven. These bites are a fusion of cheese and cassava, delivering a quick snacking option without sacrificing taste.

They’ve also explored new flavors within Venezuelan cuisine, including baked plantains and buñuelos, which are traditional Latin American treats made from masa or masarepa. Buñuelos are especially noted for their light and airy texture, often enjoyed during festive occasions.

Toast-It’s expansion taps into the growing popularity of frozen Latin American food convenience items, aligning with consumer demand for authentic and easy-to-prepare meals. Their strategic development into the Florida retail market stands as a testament to the brand’s evolution and promise of providing a diverse range of frozen products that honor traditional recipes and cooking methods.

Consumer Feedback

Toast-It arepas have consistently received positive remarks from consumers who appreciate the convenience and taste of this Shark Tank-featured product. Customers have various options to prepare the arepas, from toasting them for a quick meal to using an air fryer or conventional oven for a crispy texture.

Testimonials And Reviews

  • Ease of Use: Many testimonial accounts focus on how Toast-It arepas can be easily prepared in a toaster, prompting a wave of approval from those with fast-paced lifestyles. Consumers express satisfaction at being able to enjoy a traditional food with modern convenience.
  • Versatility: Reviews often highlight the versatility of Toast-It arepas, noting that they can be cooked using an air fryer or a toaster oven, giving a desirable texture that is both crispy and soft. Additionally, some consumers have creatively included them as part of various meal types, showcasing their adaptability in different cuisines.
  • Flavor Satisfaction: The feedback for the authenticity of flavor is vital, with many consumers validating that Toast-It arepas deliver a taste reminiscent of South American culinary tradition, fulfilling the cravings of those familiar with the dish as well as inviting new palates into the fold.

In summary, Toast-It arepas have been well-received for their taste, ease of preparation, and versatility, contributing to a satisfied customer base.

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