What Happened To Ka-Pop! After Shark Tank?

All packaged snack foods are filled with artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and sodium. Right? Not so, according to Dustin Finkel. The founder of Ka-Pop!, as featured on "Shark Tank," is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist who loves to snack but found other "healthy" snacks on the market to be bland, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. 

As he explained on Starter Story, Finkel has a background in investment banking, plus he worked for companies such as General Mills to create gluten-free food products, including Chex. When a parent who bought the cereal reached out to him with the news that her daughter, who follows a gluten-free diet, had cried tears of happiness because she was finally able to "eat real people's food," he knew that he was in on a fulfilling line of work. With newfound inspiration, "I turned my home into a test kitchen and started crafting our perfect snack," Finkel said. That's where he made Ka-Pop!, which he traveled tirelessly throughout the U.S. to promote before he was ready to take it to the Sharks.

Ka-Pop! chips, made from ancient grains, wowed the Sharks

Ka-Pop! products are made from the ancient grain known as sorghum. According to the Oldways Whole Grains Council, the way grain is grown has changed over time with manipulation and selective breeding. Ancient grains, however, grow naturally and have remained the same for centuries — and they're considered more nutritious than modern corn or wheat. Ka-Pop! chips are naturally gluten-free and come in round chips (which look like Quaker rice crisps), puffs (similar to Cheetos), and rings (like Funyuns), but without anything artificial. Flavors include dill pickle, dairy-free cheddar, and sriracha.

When Finkel appeared on "Shark Tank" in a superhero costume during Season 11, per Shark Tank Tales, he wowed the judges with his sales pitch and the flavor of his air-popped chips. He was seeking a $350,000 investment for 5% equity. Ultimately, the Sharks gave various reasons for turning Finkel down, with the exception of Kevin O'Leary (AKA Mr. Wonderful), whose offer of $350,000 for 17.5% equity Finkel refused. Still, Barbara Corcoran suspected that "rock solid" Finkel would "be fine" without the Sharks' help (via YouTube).

Ka-Pop! is going strong today

Corcoran was right. Per Finkel's remarks on Starter Story, Ka-Pop! saw a major boost in sales after appearing on "Shark Tank" at the beginning of 2020, despite not getting a deal. Within nine days of the episode's debut, the brand had sold more chips than it had in its first year of business. This progress led Finkel to project Ka-Pops! would sell $10 million of product in 2021. Finkel also founded Awakened Foods as a holding company for Ka-Pops! and fellow gluten-free snacks brand Bubba's Fine Foods, serving as the CEO of both brands.

The gluten-free market has received a lot of attention over the past 10 years and is projected to reach $7.5 billion by 2027 (via Allied Market Research). Therefore, products such as Ka-Pop! are likely to continue to become more prominent on supermarket shelves. Just this month, the brand unveiled new hatch green chile puffs to "raving reviews," it shared on Facebook. You can buy the as-seen-on-"Shark Tank" snacks at retailers like Whole Foods, Kroger, and Amazon.