What Happened To Bear Minimum After Shark Tank?

Long hikes like backpacking are known to be good for the body and soul, but they also present a workout for the mind. For one thing, heading into the great outdoors for an overnight stay presents a variety of logistical problems that require both strategic and abstract thinking. One such predicament that had long been vexing the founders of Bear Minimum was how to pack cookware for an outdoor adventure. As REI Co-op explains, it's not just about whether your cookware will physically fit. It's also about how the particular weight and shape of your cookware will impact your pack's overall weight distribution.

"The only options available were smaller versions of kitchen pots and pans," according to said founders, Heidi and Cory Santiago, a married couple from Washington State. On October 7, 2018, the Santiagos appeared on ABC's "Shark Tank" to present their "bear" minimal solution to the dearth of truly compact outdoor cookware, according to the Our Story page of the Bear Minimum website. That solution came in the form of the Bear Minimum Bear Bowl, which is the first-ever cookware pot that folds flat. It "fits in your pocket," as Bear Minimum points out. 

At the risk of spoiling a long-ago episode from Season 10 of the long-running television show slash dream pitch session with some of the nation's savviest and most successful investors, we'll reveal now that at least one shark took the bait. Here's how it went down and what happened after.

Two sharks bit

No sooner had Heidi and Cory Santiago finished their initial pitch — during which they sought $100,000 for 20% of the company — than the sharks already began circling, eliciting information regarding, among other things, Bear Minimum's funding history, its current marketing, advertising, and sales, and its profit margin (i.e., the cost of making each Bear Bowl compared with the price the Bear Bowl has been fetching), according to Shark Tank Recap. As to the last, Bear Minimum revealed that it spends $7 to make each unit, the MSRP of which is $29.90. Certainly, that may sound promising to the layperson, and likely to sophisticated investors as well. However, both Kevin O'Leary and Lori Greiner tapped out because neither being the outdoorsy type, neither could get excited about the product, according to Shark Tank Tales. Mark Cuban recused himself for a more fundamental reason. He felt the Santiagos didn't seem like "hardcore business people," making it a difficult investment for him, and ultimately, a hard pass. 

Nevertheless, two sharks bit. One was guest shark Jamie Siminoff. The other was Daymond John. Both asked for slightly more of the company than the Santiagos had proposed.  But after a brief consultation, the Santiagos decided to go with the shark who asked for 25%, which was Siminoff, thus rejecting John's offer which would have required the Santiagos to pony up 30% of their equity in Bear Minimum.

Bear Minimum, bear market?

If Bear Minimum is still in business, the company's website claims the Bear Bowl is sold at REI and other retailers. Frankly, however, it is difficult to say whether Bear Minimum is, in fact, currently operating. First off, it doesn't appear that REI offers any of the brand's products, notwithstanding what it says on the company website (which appears not to have been updated in quite some time). Likewise, the latest update on the company's Facebook page is from 2021.

Sleuthing on, it appears Bear Minimum may never have closed its deal with Jamie Siminoff. It's one thing to agree in principle after a pitch session before any money ever changes hands, but the deal has to be reduced to a written contract, signed by all parties, per Rocket Lawyer. It seems that may never have happened, according to our search for evidence of the same. Likewise, Shark Tank Blog has not been able to find evidence that the funding ever happened. Adding to the circumstantial evidence: a compilation of user reactions to the Bear Bowl products that can be found on YouTube, including one from hunting and outdoors blogger Kat Haas Outdoors, plus feedback from the review page on Bear Minimum's website, all seem to suggest that the company, if not exactly shuttered, may be hibernating.

Even if Bear Minimum is out of business, campers may still find these one-dish meals useful.