What Happened To Cupbop After Shark Tank?

What do a former investment banker and a former break dancer have in common? Korean BBQ in a cup! Dok Kwon worked in the financial sector for seven years before becoming a co-owner of Cupbop, a local New York food truck owned by Jung Song (via KSL). Song was a former restaurant server and break dancer who co-founded the food truck in 2013 with two other people, according to Taylorsville City Journal. For Kwon, a combination of wanting a change of career and seeing the potential of Cupbop – where he said he ate weekly – helped him make the decision to join Song in growing the fast-food concept. That potential started to be realized through the power of dance.

Kwon recalled that in the early going, Song got so frustrated by the other food trucks getting all the customers that he decided to attract people by "yelling and dancing." That got the ball rolling. Before taking Cupbop to "Shark Tank" in May, their food truck business had expanded to 27 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. (via YouTube).

At the time of filming, Cupbop was already a successful enterprise. So what was their goal on Shark Tank? Kwon offered an answer in the form of a question. "Did you know there's only one Asian concept in the top 50 quick service restaurants? There's room for more, and we are next!" 

The Sharks are reeled in

Even before Dok Kwon and "Shark Tank" came along, Jung Song had big goals. "We want to overtake Panda Express just like a tiger would overtake a panda," Song told the Taylorsville City Journal in 2017. According to the company's website, Cupbop has locations in six U.S. states – Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Oklahoma. According to the Panda Restaurant Group, Panda Express has more than 2,300 locations that are found throughout the United States. So Cupbop would have some catching up to do.

Cupbop sells bowls of Korean barbeque which include menu items such as Korean-style chicken over noodles and vegetables with sauce options to choose from. The website explains that you "pick your protein and spice level," "mix the bowl," and "enjoy the simple and delicious Cupbop." Each bowl costs around $8 to $10 (via YouTube). But would the Sharks be sold on the idea?

When Kwon and Song appeared on "Shark Tank," they did I funny little dance before making their pitch and asking for $1 million for a 3% stake in the business. At first, the Sharks were a bit surprised by the request. The fact that Kwon and Song only owned half of the company may have added another wrinkle. But once the Sharks heard that Cupbop pulled in $18.7 million in 12 months, all five of them started making offers. No one offered less than $1 million.

Mark Cuban makes an offer

Mark Cuban thought he knew what Cupbop needed. "You've got the operations down. You need someone to propel you in terms of marketing and PR just to be able to have a national presence," he said. He went on to explain that he thought he had the "national platform" that could help Jung Song and Dok Kwon increase their company's visibility. After some negotiations, the duo accepted an offer of $1 million for a 5% stake from Cuban (via YouTube).

The Shark Tank Recap reported that Cupbop opened nine brick-and-mortar stores since the episode was filmed earlier in 2022. However, the Shark Tank Blog notes that not much time has passed and says there's no evidence that the deal with Mark Cuban was closed. Even so, if there's not a Cupbop near you, there might be one in the future because it seems the company's mission to keep expanding is well on track.

Judging from Cupbop's Facebook page, it appears to be opening new locations every few months. The newest location opened in Lehi, Utah, this month. It offered people who turned up to the Grand Opening the chance to win "free Cupbop for a year" in addition to Cupbop swag and Korean corn dogs.