Why This Vegan Chicken Brand Turned Down a $1 Million Shark Tank Offer
It is a rare sight to see Mark Cuban offer $1 million on Shark Tank, but it’s even rarer that someone turns it down. Deborah Torres presented her vegan fried chicken company, Atlas Monroe, on the show in 2019, but realized that even Cuban’s significant offer didn’t correctly value the company’s potential. Now, Atlas Monroe holds the momentum to become the largest manufacturer of plant-based deep-fried chicken in the entire world.
The company recently purchased a multi-million dollar manufacturing facility in San Diego, CA. Torres predicts that she’ll sell one million pounds of the company’s vegan chicken by the end of this year. Her company’s rapid success quickly exceeded what she would’ve gotten from Cuban, and since turning down the offer, Torres has retained complete ownership of the company. She initially turned down the offer from Cuban and guest investor Rhan Oza because she realized that their interest proved the value of her product and the potential her company held.
“The fact you guys are even offering a million dollars lets me know you do understand what we are worth,” Torres told the investors in 2019.
The company reached more than $2 million in sales from its website since Torres’s appearance on Shark Tank. Atlas Monroe made its vegan deep-fried chicken accessible to thousands of customers, fulfilling orders and increased demand for the plant-based protein. Following the founding of its facility in San Diego, Atlas Monroe is set to break ground on a second location within 2021.
After the breakthrough success of the deep-fried vegan chicken, the company expanded its manufacturing to include vegan applewood-smoked ribs, deep-fried and stuffed turkeys, an array of signature sauces, vegan bacon, and bakery delicacies like chocolate and sweet potato cakes. The company’s continued growth could see the development of more plant-based foods available across the nation.
Torres claimed that Shark Tank misrepresented her and her product. She explained that the show cut conversations and edited the episode to create a skewed narrative about her company.
“On [Shark Tank] there were many edits of conversations to make it appear that I wasn’t intelligent enough for obvious dramatic effects of the ‘shocking’ ending. I was completely blindsided when it aired and had no idea the effect it would have on my life,” Torres told VegNews. “I mean, if we are going to talk about it honestly, just imagine being a Black woman in America graduating high school at age 15 and receiving your first degree at 17 all to be made to look like an idiot on national television for the sake of views, when you were just trying to pursue your dreams—it was crushing, to say the least. I think God works in mysterious ways because what was meant to harm me propelled me to where I am today—the proud and sole owner of the world’s largest vegan fried chicken manufacturing company and 100-percent owner of a multi-million dollar manufacturing facility.”
Following the episode, Torres’s company only continues to grow, proving that her brand would be valued at a much higher rate than the Shark Tank investors initially proposed. Although Mark Cuban plant-based investments have propelled new products from mushroom jerky to at-home plant-based milk machines, the investor missed the mark for Atlas Monroe, and the company has since found itself at the top of the vegan chicken industry.