What Happened To Brazi Bites After Its Shark Tank Appearance?

"Shark Tank" foods may come and go, but it looks like Brazi Bites, which were featured on the show in 2015, are here to stay. The company has a backstory that dates back to 2010 but has much longer roots if you consider the origins of its original product. 

Brazi Bites is the name that Brazilian-born Junea Rocha and her husband Cameron MacMullin came up with for their version of what's known as simply "pão de queijo," or cheese bread, via Forbes. These small, chewy, round balls are standard-issue food fare in Brazil. They are common for breakfast and often served alongside a rich cup of Brazilian coffee, but they are also a typical snack food. What makes them especially seductive in today's market is that they are gluten-free, as they are traditionally made with yucca and tapioca flour (both common and inexpensive in Brazil), which provide an almost ethereally light texture to the cheesy bread mixture, according to Food Navigator.

Rocha and MacMullin were both otherwise employed when they founded the business. Rocha was managing construction and her husband was working as an engineer, as mentioned in Forbes. But the duo had a bigger dream, and after experimenting with a number of different recipes in their quest to replicate the golden puffs of deliciousness they loved, they finally baked up a winner, via Inc.

Sharks love Brazi Bites

Neither had a background in the food industry, so the duo enrolled in a class on "Getting Your Recipe to Market" at their local community college and Brazi Bites was born per Inc., though both Rocha and MacMullin kept their day jobs for several years. 

Their first big break came when their Portland Whole Foods "local forager" tried their bites and liked them. Getting into Whole Foods was a big win, but after several years they still hadn't been picked up by enough stores to turn a profit. Rocha realized that even the enthusiastic customer response they'd gotten wasn't going to be enough; they needed a bigger strategy. Since their first launch, they'd expanded their presence to 700 stores, but Rocha figured that unless they could get into 2,000 stores they wouldn't be profitable enough to survive, via Inc.. In short, they needed to go national. That's when they decided to audition for "Shark Tank." Despite the incredible competition, they decided to throw their hat in the ring, since it was great opportunity for free exposure. 

Amazingly, they landed a spot! Their appearance on Shark Tank in November of 2015 was a truly decisive moment for the brand. As Rocha put it, according to NBC, The 'Shark Tank Effect' is real! Within three days of airing we were completely sold out of product in grocery stores nationwide. It was unbelievable. Viewers watched the show, went to the locator on our website, drove to stores and bought Brazi Bites in the freezer section. And they bought all of it!" 

Shark Attack was just the first wave

While the original deal Rocha and MacMullin made on "Shark Tank" with Lori Greiner fell through, via Inc., Brazi Bites has been growing steadily since 2015. In the three years after their appearance on the show, they grew ten-fold, to 7,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada (including Costco), and their revenue increased at an even greater clip, to $13 million. In the summer of 2018 they sold majority stake to private equity, and later that year they appointed Mike Guanella as CEO (per Food Navigator)

The company has been fortunate to have a largely pandemic-proof product: while people buy more Brazi Bites during times of the year when gatherings of family and friends are common — especially around Christmas and Superbowl Sunday — their sales have remained largely bullet-proof.  And after years of focusing on their original cheese bread, in 2019 the company felt ready to launch a little something different; they expanded their line to incorporate new products, introducing churro-flavored Brazi Bites and protein-heavy empanadas, in three different flavor combinations. They have subsequently grown even further; these days, pizza bites and breakfast sandwiches have been added to the lineup along with their original offerings. 

Junea Rocha and Cameron MacMullin's story is an inspiring model for entrepreneurs everywhere, and it's thanks to their team's ingenuity and perseverance that Brazi Bites can now be found in supermarkets and happy homes all over the country.