Here's What Happened To Sanaia Applesauce After Shark Tank

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At the age of 16, Keisha Smith-Jermaine left her home in The Bahamas to attend the University of Virginia. Recalling her childhood on the islands, Smith-Jermemie told Cuisine Noir you could almost mark the seasons by the bounty on the fruit trees in her backyard. Now finding herself in a place that was sometimes snowy (and never tropical), she discovered that it was the sweet taste of home that she missed the most. To remedy her nostalgia-induced malaise, Smith-Jermaine began whipping up homemade applesauce infused with the fruity flavors of the Caribbean."That is the deepest connection I have to my roots that led me to start my business," she said to Cuisine Noir in 2019.

Although the snack was a hit amongst her classmates, Smith-Jeremie would go on to have a long and illustrious career building high-performance teams for Fortune 500 companies like Morgan Stanley and NewsCorp. In June 2017, however, she decided to go all in on her applesauce idea with the launch of Sanaia, an adult-ified applesauce brand she hoped would act as a much-needed disruption to a category that had long gone stale. Capitalizing on the plant-based movement and introducing sexy flavors like tamarind and guava, Smith-Jeremie believed the sauce Sanaia was serving could transform the applesauce industry. She just needed a little help with funding.

What happened to Sanaia Applesauce on Shark Tank?

Pitching her plan to turn what is predominantly considered to be a children's snack into a sophisticated adult treat, Keisha Smith-Jeremie brought her company, Sanaia Applesauce, into the "Shark Tank" on Episode 2, Season 10 of the hit show, asking for $150,000 for 15% equity in her business. Although the sharks seemed impressed that the company had generated $40,000 in revenue after just six months of initial pilot testing, they were still skeptical about the viability of the business, expressing concerns over price, packaging, and consumer interest.

Following that, the Sanaia CEO revealed that the company walked away from a recent trade show with $35 million in projected revenue after industry giants like Starbucks and Whole Foods expressed interest in the product. Far from having the desired effect, however, the perceived over-projection caused several of the sharks to audibly scoff. After learning that Smith-Jeremie didn't abandon her job at NewsCorp to fully commit herself to the startup, things grew slightly contentious, with Kevin O'Leary calling her commitment into question. Through tears, the Sanaia CEO explained that, as the sole breadwinner for her extended family, she didn't have the luxury of quitting her job and risking it all.

Despite concerns that it was an "insulting" offer, Barbara Cocoron initially proposed trading $150,000 in return for 75% of the company, which the business owner rejected. Ultimately, Smith-Jeremie accepted a deal with Mark Cuban, agreeing to $150,000 in exchange for 25% of the company.

Sanaia after Shark Tank

While Sanaia Applesauce managed to receive a shark's backing, the deal with Mark Cuban was never finalized. Although Cuisine Noir reports that Cuban took on an advisory role for the company, Keisha Smith-Jeremie never received the financial support she was after. Nevertheless, Sanaia Applesauce managed to keep growing.

In September 2019, Sanaia made its way to Walmart, with the unsweetened green apple and guava flavors available for purchase at 800 stores nationwide. Smith-Jeremie opted to use the plastic packaging preferred by the sharks for her grocery store debut rather than the heavily criticized glass jars she displayed during her "Shark Tank" episode. Both flavors were also sold on Amazon.

The episode didn't just help to boost sales. It also sparked a greater conversation about what it means to be an entrepreneur in the current landscape. In an interview with B.E.T., Smith-Jeremie rejected the notion that you must relinquish your financial stability to pursue your dream. Referring to shark Kevin O'Reiley's inference that she wasn't committed to her business because she maintained a day job, she said, "While that's great for some people, the reality is many of us have obligations — that as much as we believe in ourselves, it's just not realistic." Further discussing the topic, Smith-Jeremie said in a press release that it becomes doubly complicated for, "entrepreneurs of color, who tend to be the first of their generation to 'make it'."

Is Sanaia Applesauce still in business?

Going into 2020, Sanaia Applesauce founder and CEO Keisha Smith-Jeremie had big plans for the future of the company, intending to launch a handful of new flavors, including hibiscus, ginger, tamarind, lavender, and pear. Sadly, COVID knocked the applesauce business off-course and the company was forced to halt production between 2020 and 2022.

Soon after Covid restrictions in the U.S. began to ease, however, there was good news for adult applesauce fans; Sanaia Applesauce was back. In June 2022, a publicist for Smith-Jeremie and the company reached out to BizzBucket via email to confirm the news. After working "tirelessly" for two years to find a suitable co-packer for her products, Smith-Jeremie was able to successfully relaunch Sanaia with the unsweetened and guava flavors. The products were once again available for purchase on Amazon, the email explained. Two additional flavors — hibiscus and blackberry — were added to Amazon's roster shortly after.

As of January 2024, however, all four of Sanaia's applesauce flavors are listed as "currently unavailable" on Amazon, followed by a note: "We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." It appears Sanaia's website, as well as its coordinating social media accounts, have also been taken down. While the Sanaia Shopify store remains active, the checkout page suggests that the company is unable to accept payment.

What's next for Sanaia Applesauce's founder?

Whether or not Sanaia went quietly out of business or plans to make yet another comeback remains unclear. Regardless, CEO and founder Keisha Smith-Jeremie has continued to make strong business moves. Following her "Shark Tank" appearance, the entrepreneur left her position at NewsCorp, taking on the role of Chief People Officer for the mid-luxury fashion brand Tory Burch.

Maintaining her position at Tory Burch, in 2021 Smith-Jeremie also became a Member of the Board of Directors for Unity Technologies, a company that provides tools and services to video game developers and digital content creators. Planning to use the experience she got from her venture with Sanaia Applesauce to help navigate the new position, Smith-Jeremie said in a press release, "As someone who works at the intersection of consumer engagement and next-generation retail experiences, I am really excited to lend my expertise to Unity's future."