Desserts are always portrayed as sinful and unhealthy. Health buffs avoid it, weight watchers long for it. Clean eating and healthy living are more popular now, but there is a sweet spot in the middle looking for healthy ice cream.
This niche market can now rejoice, thanks to Coconut Girl, a brand that Mark Cuban swiped away from the other Sharks when it appeared on Shark Tank Season 11. Is the company still riding the waves after Cuban took the sweet deal with Coconut Girl? Read on to find out.
Coconut Girl on Shark Tank
Filipino-American Frankie Yamsuan came into the Shark Tank in Season 11 to pitch her line of healthy ice cream. Coconut Girl ice cream cookie sandwiches are guilt-free and 100% all-natural. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and without artificial sweeteners or colors.
The ice cream filling has coconut milk as its main ingredient, sweetened with dates, honey, and maple syrup. The cookie is made with almond butter that gives it a soft, chewy texture.
The delicious dairy ice cream alternative comes in three flavors–Aloha Chocolate, Beach Bum Maple, and Hang Loose Vanilla. Everything is made in small batches at a Los Angeles facility.
How did Coconut Girl start?
This healthy dessert was concocted by Coconut Girl Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts founder, Francheska Yamsuan. She shared that she had an unhealthy relationship with food when she was growing up. In 2010, she learned about the paleo diet from her Crossfit gym.
Looking to satisfy her sweet cravings with a dessert that was still paleo, her favorite thing to make was date shakes by combining coconut milk with dates. She decided to experiment and put her date shake in her ice cream maker and voila! Creamy healthy ice cream that tasted just like dairy ice cream.
She shared it with friends and they liked it so much, they started ordering pints of the paleo ice cream. Before long, news of Yamsuan’s paleo ice cream has spread in their community. In 2014, she decided that she could turn her paleo ice cream into a “real business.” She got herself an “icicle tricycle” similar to the ice cream carts used in her homeland, the Philippines.
Diligently, Yamsuan went to every weekend fitness event in her area to sell her paleo ice cream. She noticed that her customers would make ice cream sandwiches. The Coconut Girl founder graduated with a culinary degree, but she wasn’t interested in baking, she shared. But she did not let that stop her. She worked hard until she developed the perfect, chewy, paleo cookie.
From packaging, bar codes, and even nutrition labels – the Coconut Girl founder figured everything out herself. Yamsuan herself sold paleo ice cream sandwiches in weekend events and it was a hit.
“When a grocery store approached me and asked if I did wholesale, I lied and said, ‘Yeah, I do wholesale’” Yamsuan joked.
What were the Sharks’ offers for Coconut Girl?
Frankie Yamsuan walked into the Shark Tank with her beach girl vibe branding, asking for $180,000 for 18% equity in her company.
The Coconut Girl founder said she intends to use the money to lower her production costs and to hire more people. She said she also wanted to partner up with a Shark who can help her with the logistics and operations.
After trying the samples, the Sharks were impressed by the flavor and the concept of the healthy dessert. But they were even more impressed when Yamsuan shared the scope of the stores that were already distributing her products.
“Whole Foods is our biggest account,” she said. “[We’re in] 30 locations, plus we just got the green light to be in Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona. And we just got picked up by one of the largest food distributors as of last week.”
Yamsuan explained that her products retail at $4.99 to $5.99, and costs $1 to make. They currently do not sell directly to customers because it’s very costly to send the ice cream sandwiches to fulfill online orders. They are also understaffed and need to hire more people to expand and accommodate more orders.
Having heard enough good details, Shark Mark Cuban was the first one to jump in with his offer.
He wanted Yamsuan to take his offer without letting the other Sharks speak, saying, “I don’t even want to hear what these people have to say. I’ll give you $180,000 but I want 25%.”
Shark Kevin O’Leary sighed and said he was going to offer the same thing. Shark Lori Greiner chimed in that she liked the deal too. However, Cuban interrupted her, telling Yamsuan that if she listens to other offers, he’s out.
O’Leary interjected Cuban saying he’ll help Yamsuan by offering $180,000 for 20%.
“Only because he’s an idiot, okay I’ll do 20%,” Cuban said and immediately stood up to shake on the deal. “Deal?”
Greiner and the rest of the Sharks were in shock. Cuban had boxed them all out.
Here’s a short video of the Shark Tank negotiations for Coconut Girl, courtesy of ABC.
Did Coconut Girl get a deal on Shark Tank?
After an unexpected bidding war among the Sharks, Coconut Girl founder Frankie Yamsuan accepted Cuban’s offer of $180,000 for 20% equity in the season 11 Shark Tank episode.
Cuban effectively blocked the offers of the other Sharks by interrupting them mid-offer and expressing how he’s decided to go for the deal with Coconut Girl.
It worked because as it turns out, Yamsuan had initially wanted to have Cuban as a partner. Yamsuan triumphantly walked out of the Shark Tank as Cuban playfully tossed more ice cream bars to the other Sharks to enjoy.
What happened to Coconut Girl after Shark Tank?
After receiving the funding and support from Cuban and his team, Coconut Girl was able to get a co-packer. This allowed her to focus more on the marketing side of the business, which was what she enjoyed more.
Is Coconut Girl still in business today?
Since the episode aired in March 2020, the whole nation has been in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coconut Girl Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts is one of the many businesses affected by the pandemic. But the good news is that they are still in business and continue to sell their guilt-free desserts in-store and online through Whole Foods.
Additionally, they released brand merchandise such as tank tops and shirts on their website.
How much is Coconut Girl worth now?
At the time of the airing of the Shark Tank episode, Coconut Girl founder shared that her business earned $120,000 from sales in 30 Wholefoods branches. The projected income of the company was $300,000.
With an ask of $180,000 for an 18% equity stake in her company, the Coconut Girl founder valued her company at $1 million. Mark Cuban’s final deal of $180,000 for 20% slightly lowered the company’s worth to $900,000.
The current actual net worth of Coconut Girl is undisclosed.
Lessons from Coconut Girl on Shark Tank
Initially the Coconut Girl founder did not think that her date shakes could be turned into a real business. But she saw the trend of people being more interested in clean eating, the paleo diet, and the search for guilt-free desserts.
She realized that there was a demand for her paleo-friendly ice cream, and seized the opportunity on her own even without a business plan or partners. She proved that swiftly taking action and constantly learning on the job is important to succeed in business.
When a heated bidding war ensued after her pitch, Yamsuan kept her composure. She did not let herself be intimidated by Cuban and insisted that she wanted to respect Greiner and listen to her offer. Cuban eventually decided to get out, but thanks to Kevin O’ Reilly who made a better offer, Cuban went back in and matched Kevin’s offer.
In the end, she knew who she wanted to partner with even before coming to the show to pitch her business. Her confident pitch, knowledge in marketing, and the details of her business effectively reeled in the Shark that she wanted.