Here's What Happened To Kodiak Cakes After Shark Tank

Pancakes are a delicious breakfast and brunch staple, but often we find them unsatisfying once the initial sugar buzz wears off. Kodiak Cakes aimed to offer an alternative, using whole grains and added protein that may keep you satisfied for longer. Starting as a family business, co-founder Joel Clark and his older brother sold their mother's whole grain pancake mix out of their red wagon when Clark was just eight years old (per the brand). When Clark's older brother decided to focus on pursuing an education, he bought the business for $1. 

Decades later, Clark recruited Cameron Smith as an additional co-founder to help him take the business nationwide. When Clark and Smith appeared on Season 5, Episode 22 of "Shark Tank" (per IMDB), they were already selling their product through Target. The two pitched the "sharks," requesting a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in the business (per YouTube). 

They faced sharks Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and Mark Cuban. While the sharks enjoyed the samples, they were skeptical of the founders' valuation of Kodiak Cakes, and the risk of competing with more established health food brands. Kodiak Cakes received two offers: O'Leary and Corcoran offered $500,000 in exchange for 50% equity, while Herjavec asked for 30% equity (via Shark Tank Blog).

Clark and Smith declined both offers. "I think you guys are smart," said Cuban, and Greiner agreed, via YouTube.

Life after Shark Tank

When Kodiak Cake's co-founders Joel Clark and Cameron Smith were invited to pitch on "Shark Tank," they prepared by binge-watching old episodes — as you do. Clark told CNBC "Make It" that they made a list of questions they heard the sharks ask and rehearsed their own answers. He said, "I think that was one of the best things we did because we walked out onto the show feeling prepared" (per CNBC).

They declined both of the "Shark Tank" offers since they believed the sharks undervalued their business. Clark said, "When they low-balled us, and we walked away, I actually felt sort of relief, which is kind of funny" (via CNBC). Kodiak Cakes saw an immediate increase in orders, adding up to around $1 million in revenue in the six weeks after the show, according to CNBC "Make It."

A couple of years following their "Shark Tank" appearance, they reflected on the experience in an Instagram post, "We were so thankful for the opportunity we had to go on the show ... We have grown so much since Shark Tank. We have become the #1 selling protein pancake mix, launched 8 new products, and have 2 more on the way." (FYI; Kodiak Cakes made our list of best protein waffle products.)

In 2016, Kodiak Cakes received seed money from Sunrise Strategic Partners, according to PR Newswire. CEO and co-founder of Sunrise Strategic Partners Steve Hughes said, "Kodiak Cakes is one that Shark Tank let get away."

The Bear in the Room

CNBC "Make It" counted Kodiak Cakes as one of the most successful rejected products on "Shark Tank" (per CNBC). When Joel Clark and Cameron Smith appeared on the show in 2014, they anticipated earning $20 million by 2018. In reality, they earned around $54 million by 2018, according to Inc. (via YouTube). The company was then acquired in 2021 by a private equity brand for an unknown amount, per Shark Tank Blog. The brand currently sells its products through its website and grocery store chains, like Target. "This is a rare case on Shark Tank where not taking a deal actually worked out really well for the founder," said Emily Canal, host of Inc.'s Tips From the Tank.

Kodiak Cakes even recruited Zac Efron to represent their brand. The "Keep It Wild" campaign featuring Efron sparked controversy due to its use of a live bear named Tank. PETA criticized Kodiak Cakes and Efron, and started a petition (per PETA). Whenever people purchase an item from the "Keep It Wild" collection, Kodiak Cakes contributes to grizzly bear conservation through Vital Ground, according to the brand's website.

So even after what appeared to be an unsuccessful debut on "Shark Tank," as it turns out, it was one of the most successful things to happen to Kodiak Cakes.