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 been the difference between success and failure for Allison and Stephen Ellsworth. In 2018, the entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team from Dallas 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 can be enjoyed as a wholesome alternative to sugary soft drinks.

The brand was originally called Mother Beverage. Allison Ellsworth was pregnant with her second child at the time; however, "mother" was also a reference to "the mother," a term for the beneficial compounds found in unrefined, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. The pair developed the prebiotic drink by trial and error in an effort to address Allison's chronic gut health issues. Little did they know, they would soon shake up the carbonated beverage industry.

"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."

Their Shark Tank pitch was a success

While Allison Ellsworth was sold on the benefits of incorporating ACV into her diet, she couldn't get her husband, Stephen, to merely 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. 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. But it was their time on "Shark Tank" that really helped the company take off.

During their 2018 "Shark Tank" appearance, the Ellsworths asked for $400,000 in exchange for 10% equity, and they walked out with a deal. Shark investor Rohan Oza offered $400,000 in exchange for 25% equity, which the duo excitedly accepted.

"In the beverage industry, [Oza] is 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 the investor.

Mother Beverage is now Poppi

Following their "Shark Tank" appearance, Allison and Stephen Ellsworth took a good look at market research and came to the decision that they should change the name of their product. As it turns out, "vinegar" is a polarizing term. 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 the naturally sour liquid. Plus, "Mother Beverage" may have been somewhat confusing. (Is it a libation specially designed for moms?)

With the help of Shark investor and marketing expert Rohan Oza, they rebranded the beverage as Poppi. Just as they were preparing to start selling Poppi through a network of grocery and specialty stores, the global pandemic suddenly devastated the landscape of retail sales. "It was a significant hit," Stephen told Forbes in April 2020. "As a new brand working to get placed on the shelf, we were the last priority."

In a quick and ultra-smart fashion, they pivoted and switched to online sales and grocery delivery services. They also began donating Poppi to hospitals and communities in need. And it appears their strategy worked: In November 2020, Poppi reported year-over-year growth of 531%. In August 2021, the company had closed $13.5 million in a funding round. Today, Poppi's annual revenue is nearly $29 million.

Poppi has A-list fans

As it turns out, Billie Eilish, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Olivia Munn, Ellie Goulding, Nicole Scherzinger, Halsey, and plenty more stars are huge fans of Poppi.

"I blame the kids, but the whole family now loves Poppi," Kunis revealed on "The Drew Barrymore Show." "I feel like it's because it says prebiotic, I'm like, 'Ugh, literally this is healthy.' I don't know if it is or isn't, but boy do I like a nice little Poppi."

"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," Munn told People in February 2021. "And it boosts my immunity, and it gives me great, glowing skin,"  The actor added that she loves the drink's taste and carbonation.

According to a press release, JLo swore by Poppi while filming the video for her 2021 song "Cambia El Paso." Clearly, Poppi has plenty of fans in high places, and the company isn't slowing down anytime soon. You can find the brightly colored cans of fizzy goodness in grocery stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, Target, Publix, Sprouts, Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons, and Walmart.