Here's How Shark Tank's Mother Beverage Is Doing Now

Quick thinking and a readiness to pivot in the face of changing circumstances may have made the difference between success and failure for Allison and Stephen Ellsworth. As reported by Forbes, in 2018 the entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team secured an audience with potential investors on ABC's hit series "Shark Tank" where they pitched their product, an apple cider vinegar-based drink that's an alternative to sugary carbonated beverages.

The product was originally called Mother Beverage — Allison Ellsworth was pregnant with her second child at the time, but we're guessing "mother" was actually a reference for the beneficial compound termed the "mother" found in unrefined, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (via Wellness Mama). They developed the prebiotic drink by trial and error in an effort to address Allison's chronic gut health issues.

"In my previous career, I was on the road a lot," Allison told DFW Child. "I traveled town to town ... across the U.S. for about 10 years, living in hotels and eating on the road, and not really living the healthiest of a lifestyle. I had that bloating feeling in the stomach where your gut kind of always hurts, and my face was always a little red. I read online drinking apple cider vinegar could help with a lot of those issues. So, I was like, 'What's the harm in trying [something] natural?'"

While Allison was sold on the benefits she experienced by incorporating a daily dose of apple cider vinegar into her diet, she couldn't get others like her husband to take a shot of the elixir, which can be quite potent in flavor. Undeterred, she began experimenting with recipes to make the beverage more palatable — and did so without adding tons of sugar (via DFW Child). She eventually concocted a blend that caught on with friends, family, and neighbors. As demand increased, and Stephen joined the venture, they began selling their soda alternative at local farmers' markets.

Now called Poppi, the brand is going places

In 2018, Allison and Stephen pitched their original drink called Mother Beverage on "Shark Tank." They went in asking for $400,000 in exchange for 10% equity and walked out with a deal — Shark investor Rohan Oza offered $400,000 in exchange for 25% equity, which the husband-and-wife duo accepted (via Shark Tank Tales). "In the beverage industry, he's like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates as far as shaping brands and starting at the bottom and working his way all the way up to make you a really successful national brand," Allison told DFW Child of working with Oza. 

Following their appearance on "Shark Tank," the Ellsworths took a good look at market research and concluded they should change the name of their product. Turns out "vinegar" is a polarizing term (via DFW Child). Some consumers like the idea of the down-home basic ingredient while others have a knee-jerk negative reaction based on their relationship with the taste of vinegar. With Oza on board, they rebranded the beverage as Poppi and got ready to start selling it through a network of grocery and specialty stores — just in time for the global pandemic to change the landscape of retail sales. "It was a significant hit," Stephen Ellsworth told Forbes. "As a new brand working to get placed on the shelf, we were the last priority."

So they pivoted.They rolled out Plan B and switched to online sales via Amazon and grocery delivery services. They also began donating Poppi to hospitals and communities in need. It appears their strategy worked. According to Shark Tank Tales, in November 2020, Poppi reported year-over-year growth of 531%. In August, TechCrunch reported the company had closed $13.5 million in a funding round and Financial Post reports that even actress Olivia Munn is a Poppi fan, telling People, "It's my healthy treat that not only fulfills my craving but it does really offer something that I need, which is real benefits for gut health, and it boosts my immunity and it gives me great, glowing skin."