Here's What Happened To Pricklee After Shark Tank

In 2021, we saw the start of the newest drink trend: cactus water. And popular brand Pricklee joined the market in February 2021, created by five pharmacist friends in Boston. For co-founder Mohammed Hassoun, the drink was associated with fond memories of his grandmother and time spent in Lebanon as a child. "It tasted like a combination of watermelon and bubble gum. So believe me when I tell you, every time she made it for us me and my siblings would fight for that last cup," he told Today.

While it may seem strange to drink water from a cactus, Hassoun introduced the drink to his friends (who are all first-generation Americans) and it was a hit. They started selling their beverage and officially launched in February 2021. Their marketing strategy consisted of dressing up as cacti and roaming the streets of Boston and New York with their beverage — and it worked. They quickly went from selling 300 cases of Pricklee every three months to 15,000 in just a single month.

A year later they appeared on Season 13, Episode 22 of "Shark Tank" looking for a deal to grow their budding business.

A prickly offer from the Sharks

Pricklee's founders consist of friends Mohammed Hassoun, Kun Yang, Jaanai Babb, Sarwang Shah, and Aakash Dheri. Of the five, Hassoun and Yang were the two who made their pitch on "Shark Tank" looking for $200,000 for a 5% stake in the company. They started out by saying that the coconut water trend was fading, and told the Sharks that their prickly pear cactus drink has no carbonation or stevia sweetener. They gave the Sharks three samples: original, strawberry hibiscus, and mango ginger. The Sharks liked all three flavors and were amazed that they were both low in calories and sugar.

Mark Cuban and guest Shark Emma Grede were immediately out, expressing frustration with the packaging and telling the founders that they should focus more on the product's sustainability and high amount of antioxidants. Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran were also out. Kevin O'Leary made what he called a "prickly" offer of $200,000 for 20% of their company, while saying that he hates beverage deals. Hassoun and Yang counteroffered $200,000 as a line of credit and stuck with their initial 5%, which O'Leary tried to up to 10%. However, after some tense moments with O'Leary, Corcoran took them up on it instead, and a deal was made.

Pricklee took some of the Sharks' advice

In the after-show interview, co-founder Kun Yang talked about their hesitancy to take O'Leary's offer, saying, "We just really wanted to protect our equity, because we know how much money it's going to cost us to raise in order to grow this business" (via YouTube). While it's unclear if the deal with Barbara Corcoran was ever completed, Mohammed Hassoun told The Hamilton Spectator that she has been their advisor and liaison. He has a lot of hopes for Pricklee's future, saying, "The market is primed for something new to come, some new plant-based water to expand the health-drink market. And we think cactus water is that category and Pricklee is the front-runner in it."

Yang told The Joe Pardo Show that Pricklee had made sure it was prepared for the expected "'Shark Tank' effect" boost in sales after their episode aired. He also talked about the changes they were making with their marketing, largely due to the advice they received on the show. "Mark [Cuban] brought up some good points, like how do we call out the antioxidants more?" he said. "How do we talk about the benefits of this drink in a way that maximizes the real estate on that?" Pricklee had decided it was best to move away from the coconut water comparisons and instead focus on the amazing and resilient cactus that can survive in the desert, as well as the actual cactus fruit drink.

Pricklee is now in 23 states and going strong

Pricklee is still very much in business and is now available in 23 states, being sold at Plum Market, Stop & Shop, Sprouts Farmers Market, and ShopRite. You can shop online at Amazon and Pricklee's website, where you can also find a store locator map. On the website, you can become a subscriber and receive free shipping and 15% off your order. Pricklee frequently posts updates, giveaways, and festivals it's attending on its various social media accounts, like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok

The cans have been completely redesigned since their appearance on "Shark Tank," with a cactus featured prominently along with the fruit of the flavoring. There haven't been any new flavors released, but its variety pack appears to be a popular option. It also held a contest in March 2023 for fans to pick the winning design for its limited-edition cans.

For the most part, Pricklee uses word of mouth, social media, and its cacti costumes for publicity and marketing, but it also recently started something new: an ambassador program to help spread the word for customers who may not be aware of the cactus water drink. The beverage market may be one of the most difficult to succeed in, but Pricklee is doing everything it can to be the consumer's favorite natural hydration drink.