What Happened To Plated After Shark Tank?

Direct-to-door meal kit delivery services seem like a staple of weeknight cooking and dining now. HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, and many more have made their mark as more folks look to cook at home more often, try new recipes, and eat healthier. But amongst these big names, there was a brand founded in 2012 called Plated, offering pre-packaged ingredients alongside easy-to-follow recipes. The founders, Nick Taranto and Josh Hix, stated that their mission was to "help Americans eat better." The duo met while attending Harvard Business School and shared the issue of not having the time or money to access high-quality meals, resulting in a need for a company like Plated. 

Taranto and Hicks appeared in 2014 on season 5, episode 23 of "Shark Tank," an episode that also starred the founders of the still-wildly popular Kodiak Cakes health-ified flapjacks. After a shaky start that the founders said seemed anything but sustainable in an interview with CNBC, this team sought additional funding to better coordinate their rapidly growing company and improve their margins. And while meal kits have become popular for many home cooks, the Plated founders had to lay a lot of groundwork to convince the Sharks to give them a fair shot. 

What happened to Plated on Shark Tank?

The Plated founders sought $500,000 for just 4% equity, an offer that made several of the judges react in shock. Nick Taranto and Josh Hix explained that their business model allowed customers to enjoy convenience, less grocery cost waste, and fresh-cooked meals, but the sharks seemed dubious at best. Lori Greiner asked why this service would be any better than a direct-to-door grocery order, and Mark Cuban questioned why a recipe card accompanying the pre-portioned ingredients was any easier than thumbing through a cookbook. The founders explained that the service takes some of the mental labor out of making healthy choices, and emphasized that their subscribers were almost all repeat customers. 

Despite the founders' explanations, Robert Herjavec was the first shark to opt out, explaining that he just didn't see the point of a food delivery service he ultimately still had to cook. Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and Barbara Corcoran followed suit, citing the non-proprietary nature of the business, failing to see a market for the service, and reflecting that competing against convenient takeout options seemed like a losing game. Mark Cuban, however, wasn't so quick to jump off. He offered the requested $500,000 in exchange for roughly 6% equity, as well as advisory shares. After hesitating briefly, Taranto and Hix agreed to the deal and shook hands with Cuban. 

Plated after Shark Tank

Some businesses appear on "Shark Tank" and leave with a great deal and a new partner, but even those who leave without a deal still receive a major sales bump. For Plated, the case was sort of a mixture of both. After the episode aired, the Mark Cuban deal went bust. According to an episode of, "Beyond the Tank," a spin-off show that follows the stories of "Shark Tank" contestants, Taranto and Hix tried to renegotiate the deal they agreed to on air due to a recent sales bump, which Cuban took as a sign of a bad faith partnership (via Inc.com). 

But another Shark hadn't let Plated out of their sight. Although the specific terms of the agreement were not revealed, Kevin O'Leary ended up investing in the company. In addition to O'Leary's investment, it was reported that the Plated founders sought funding elsewhere and had independently raised $100 million in venture capital,which put them in an excellent position to expand the company. 

In 2017, the company announced that it had been acquired by grocery chain Albertson's for $300 million, with Taranto slated to stay on as Chief Strategy Officer and Hix as CEO. In a statement about the merger, Taranto said, "We are playing for billions here. We are going to kill Blue Apron, we are going to take on Amazon Fresh. This partnership enables us to become a $10 billion brand in a matter of years." 

Is Plated still in business?

With such an amazing streak over a few years that included major investments, an expanding customer base, and being acquired by a much larger company, it seemed that Plated's future was bright. But sadly, Plated is no more, at least in the form we once knew it. On Albertsons' website, it's possible to create a meal plan in a model similar to Plated's and other meal kit services, in which you can choose from health-conscious, ready-to-prepare dining options, but there's no mention of the Plated brand. In 2019, Plated released a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter) that the subscription-based service for which Plated had become well-known was ending in a matter of weeks. Just before this announcement, both Taranto and Hix had left their roles at the newly acquired Plated without public explanation.  

Interestingly, in 2021, Reuters reported that some of Plated's shareholders had brought a lawsuit against Albertsons, claiming that the grocery chain had ignored and tanked the subscription service in favor of promoting the kits in brick-and-mortar stores only. One Delaware judge found this was a possibility, allowing the shareholders to pursue a specific breach of contract suit. It's entirely possible that this merger was responsible for Plated seeming to end. 

Additionally, unlike Taranto predicted, Plated's partnership with Albertsons' wasn't the undoing of competing meal kit delivery services. Blue Apron, Amazon Fresh, HelloFresh are still in business, and new but similar services are still cropping up, potentially squeezing out any competitive edge Plated might have had. 

What's next for Plated's founders?

After stepping away from Plated in 2018, Nick Taranto has fronted several entrepreneurial ventures. According to Taranto's LinkedIn, he is the founder and chairman of a company called HOP WTR as of December 2019. The product is a non-alcoholic, hop-brewed sparkling water that's meant to be a booze-free alternative to beer. The beverage is available in flavors like blood orange, mango, and lime, and can be purchased from grocery stores across the U.S. and directly from the company's website. Taranto also appears to have started a newer company as of 2021 called Ever Scouts, which still appears to be in business according to LinkedIn, though the website's URL is defunct and the company's Instagram hasn't been updated since December 2022. 

Josh Hix has remained involved in the food and tech startup world and is currently CEO of a company called Season, which describes itself as a food-as-medicine platform. Similarly to Plated, Season provides recipe plans and food delivery, but specifically dietician-recommended meal plans for certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and Celiac disease.