What Happened To Cropsticks After Shark Tank?

Over the years, we've seen countless kitchen tools on "Shark Tank," from more useful ones like Scrub Daddy sponges and the Rapid Ramen Cooker to weirder novelty products like Loliware's edible drinking cups and the BevBuckle (via The Kitchn). One "Shark Tank" product that falls between these two categories is Cropsticks.

According to Shark Tank Tales, Mylen Fe Yamamoto pitched Cropsticks in 2017, on Season 8 of the show. As you might guess by the name, Cropsticks are a take on traditional chopsticks. However, Yamamoto's product improves upon chopsticks in two ways –- the bamboo material creates a more sustainable product, and there's a built-in stand to keep your chopsticks from rolling off the table. Smart, right?

Yamamoto asked for $75k in exchange for 12.5% equity, and unfortunately, not a single shark took the bait. Per Shark Tank Recap, the sharks were intrigued by her idea, but they thought it would be too challenging to get restaurants on board. Despite walking away without a deal, Yamamoto and Cropsticks weren't giving up just yet. So where is the company today? 

A sustainable alternative to traditional chopsticks

We may not realize it, but traditional chopsticks aren't very environmentally friendly. According to The New York Times, somewhere around 45% of chopsticks — that's 3.8 million trees — are made from wood. Needless to say, this isn't helping with the deforestation and carbon emission crises.

This is where Mylen Fe Yamamoto's Cropsticks come in. Rather than being made from wood, Cropsticks are made from bamboo (via Shark Tank Recap). Bamboo, as noted by Eco and Beyond, grows far more quickly than trees, requires little water, and helps prevent soil erosion.

However, bamboo also takes up a lot of land, which leads to decreased biodiversity and displacement of wildlife. Furthermore, because bamboo is commercially grown only in China, it has to travel great distances, and this again racks up its carbon footprint. Even so, bamboo chopsticks are still a more eco-friendly product than traditional wooden chopsticks (though it's important to note you can reuse your disposable chopsticks), and the reality is there's no simple solution to climate change. 

Cropsticks gets its turbulent start

Before diving into Cropsticks, Mylen Fe Yamamoto was an entrepreneurship professor at Chicago's Loyola University (via Shark Tank Blog). While on a lengthy flight to Asia, she became frustrated that her chopsticks kept falling off her tray table.

This annoyance led to her creating Cropsticks, which come with a snap-off stand to rest the sticks on. To help fund her idea for an alternative disposable chopstick, Yamamoto launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising more than $21k by the time she appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2017. Although her pitch did not result in any sharks investing in Cropsticks, Yamamoto pushed forward, successfully patenting her creation in 2018. More impressively, she made deals with numerous big names, including Disney, The Four Seasons, and Walgreens, per 2paragraphs.

It should come as no surprise that Cropsticks is still very much in business, with a thriving website and a product range that has expanded far beyond just sustainable bamboo chopsticks. Let's wrap this up with a little look, shall we?

Cropsticks adds more sustainable kitchen products

While Cropsticks will always owe its big break to its original bamboo chopsticks with a built-in stand, the company has grown into so much more since founder Mylen Fe Yamamoto appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2017. Cropsticks holds the honor of B Corp Certification, meaning the company has committed itself to accountability, transparency, and high environmental performance.

In addition to bamboo chopsticks, which are sold in sample packs, single packs, and retail packs, Cropsticks also sells 6mm and 12mm bamboo fiber straws. Gotta save the turtles from our regular plastic straws, right?

It's not just food accessories: Cropsticks also sells a "Full Circle Sustainable Planter," which includes a ceramic pot and bamboo wall planter made from upcycled Cropsticks. The kit doesn't come with a live bamboo plant, but hey, part of the proceeds are donated to Conservation International, so that counts for something. It seems the "Shark Tank" investors may have missed out on a good deal, but at least Cropsticks made it mainstream anyway.