To play up their family-friendly, innovative kitchen gadget, the inventors of Banana Loca entered the Shark Tank with a man dressed in a giant banana costume.
For many viewers, Banana Loca came off as more a gimmick than a necessity. But despite the fierce cricitism, the product is thriving. Read how well the company is doing, how the product came to be, and behind-the-scenes tidbits of being on the Tank in this Banana Loca Shark Tank update!
How the Banana Loca works
Banana Loca sounds like a dessert lover’s dream come true. And the kitchen device certainly turned some heads when it debuted in Season 13 of Shark Tank.
As viewers may remember, the gadget allows users to fill bananas, still in their peel, with their favorite ingredients. So think Nutella, peanut butter, and whopping amounts of chocolate, and in theory you have a mess-free, on-the-go snack.
With founders Renee Heath and Bechara Jaoudeh asking for $250,000 for 25% of their company, Banana Loca sounded like it was destined to go down as one of the show’s biggest busts. After all, how often do you see the Sharks investing in something that seems so unhealthy?
Bananas are already naturally sweet, so why add even more sugar to the mix? The Sharks usually promote healthy living through their brands, so they tend to back healthy snacks as a result.
And while the device may seem useful in theory, some viewers pointed out they probably wouldn’t use it all that often. One Reddit user wrote, “The product has curb appeal but it will definitely end up in a cabinet unused after about two weeks.”
But to many people’s surprise, Banana Loca ended up walking away with almost exactly what they wanted. Did the Sharks go bananas? Well, some fans most certainly did.
As another Redditor put it, “Sharks most weeks: we prefer to support healthier foods. Sharks this week: pumping a chocolate bar into your child’s banana? Yes please.”
Let’s take a look at how Heath and Jaoudeh managed to pull off this feat.
“A eureka moment”
Banana Loca got their start thanks in part to Jaoude’s heritage. Heath and Jaoude first started working on the product in 2019 but they have been business partners since 2010. Prior to starting the company, Jaoude ran a successful pizzeria and also operated a marketing agency called Philly Marketing Labs. Meanwhile, Heath worked in digital marketing at several food companies.
But what inspired the creation of Banana Loca? In an interview with NJ Monthly, Heath said, “My business partner Bechara grew up in Lebanon, and a very popular snack there is peanut butter or Nutella on pita bread. He was looking up recipes one day for banana and Nutella combinations and had a eureka moment.”
It wasn’t a particularly long road to Shark Tank, but Banana Loca did face early challenges when starting out. In 2020, the two needed funding to create their product, so they turned to Kickstarter for help.
Fortunately, the campaign was a success, with 269 people backing the product, which gave them almost $14,000 in funding.
Afterward, Banana Loca answered an open call for Shark Tank, hoping an investment from the sharks could take their invention to the next level.
The Sharks take a bite out of the product
Of course, stepping in front of the Sharks is an intimidating experience for many entrepreneurs.
But when Banana Loca asked for $250,000 for 25% of their company, the two pretty much ended up getting exactly what they asked for.
Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary immediately showed interest in the product. Initially, Mr. Wonderful engaged in his hallmark tactics, offering $250,000 for a $3 per unit royalty in perpetuity. He finally partnered with Cuban,with the pair making a deal for $250,000 for 25% plus a $3 royalty until they get the $250,000 back. It is Shark Tank after all.
Behind the scenes ended up being more routine for Heath than one might expect. According to New Jersey Monthly, the entrepreneur went through a lot of prep work that didn’t make TV screens.
“The filming was really intense.”Renee Heath, co-founder of Banana Loca
For one, there are many video chats. Heath said, “We worked with producers, and you continuously update them on your business and how it’s doing from a numbers perspective. You also work on your pitch. We had a lot of video chats working on what messages we wanted to send to those at home and what will work with the Sharks.”
Was filming in front of the Sharks tough? Most certainly, but as Heath puts it, she had plenty of opportunities to go over her pitches with producers.
She said, “Before we went on we did practice runs with producers to make sure we felt comfortable in front of the Sharks. The filming was really intense. You hit your mark and go, and there’s no cutting or restarting.”
Fighting back against a frosty reception
After the airing, many viewers took to social media to ridicule the Sharks for partnering with the company, according to Good Housekeeping.
For instance, one wrote, “They invested into a product that solves a problem that really isn’t a problem/a problem worth solving.” Another said, “I’m mad this actually got invented.”
Not every product can have a clear utility and world-saving mission like Sheets Laundry Club, however. Sometimes a fun product is just…fun.
Some Amazon reviews mentioned having trouble with the product and it not working as intended. In an interview with Techstination, Heath gave a demonstration of the product and how to properly use the device.
And while the device can become messy, it’s not very difficult to clean, in part thanks to the included bristle brush for cleaning the filler section of the gadget.
Healthy uses of the Banana Loca
The entrepreneur has struck back against claims that her product is unhealthy. In fact, she claims that making healthy snacks with the kitchen gadget is definitely possible.
While little kids (and bigger ones too, for that matter!) may favor sweet fillings like peanut butter, this is a device for the whole family, and that means more health-conscious moms and dads too.
After all, the device fills bananas with your favorite filling, so there’s nothing stopping you stuffing them with yogurt, honey, or cottage cheese, as some people have done.
And while the name may be called Banana Loca, Heath revealed that the innovative kitchen gadget could be used with different fruits and vegetables. In fact, she claimed that she likes to use her Banana Loca to create jalapeno poppers for her family. Others have had success with cucumbers too.
So while you may immediately think of banana sundaes for the 21st century, it’s not just for making desserts.
More practical than you might think
Another accusation the founders faced is that the device is not very useful.
After all, why bother removing the core and filling the banana with honey, for instance, when you could just peel it and spread the topping all over it, for a less messy and less fiddly alternative?
Well, the main answer is that keeping the banana inside its peel makes it more transportable, making it ideal for packed lunches during the school season.
Buyers seem to love it
Fortunately, most reviews of the product online have tended to be positive.
For instance, on Amazon, Banana Loca currently has a 4-star rating out of five. One user wrote, “bought it and i don’t even have any kids at home anymore. It’s a great snack.”
Another commented, “Easy to use- easy to clean- and the kids love it!!! Great concept!! We bought one and gifted one and love it!! You won’t be disappointed!”
And yet another wrote, “This little bugger is amazing! My kids love their stuffed bananas! I used Nutella and different kinds of jelly and it worked flawlessly.”
Banana Loca Shark Tank update
After the show aired, sales of the kitchen gadget went, ahem, bananas. And they continue to sell well to this day.
“We’re thrilled to have Mark and Kevin onboard and can’t wait to see what success from the show will bring!”Renee Heath, co-founder of Banana Loca
The creators of Banana Loca have continued to strive for success despite any online ridicule. They’ve even turned to the internet to help educate people about their product.
In a June 2022 article by Montco Today, Banana Loca appears to be doing well for itself. Heath thanks social media for help spreading the word about the product.
She said, “People are going bananas! The videos and pictures that we get, especially on Instagram and TikTok, are amazing. We see families and people of all ages using it.”
According to a Press Release by the company, the two couldn’t be happier to partner with Sharks Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. “We’re thrilled to have Mark and Kevin onboard and can’t wait to see what success from the show will bring,” Heath said in the release.
The product is available on Amazon for $28.99.Tweets by mybananaloca
What is Banana Loca on Shark Tank?
Banana Loca is a product that allows you to easily core and stuff bananas. The founders went on Shark Tank asking for an investment of $250,000 for 25% equity, valuing the business at $1 million.
Who founded Banana Loca?
Banana Loca was founded by Renee Heath and Bechara Jaouden, two best friends. The company is based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
When did Banana Loca go on Shark Tank?
Banana Loca featured on Season 13, Episode 9 of Shark Tank. The show originally aired on December 13th, 2021.
Did Banana Loca get a deal on Shark Tank?
Yes, Banana Loca agreed a deal with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary for $250,000 for 25% equity, which is exactly what the founders had originally asked for. However, they also negotiated a royalty of $3 per unit until the full investment of $250,000 is paid back.
Who invested in Banana Loca on Shark Tank?
Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary invested $250,000 for 25% equity of Banana Loca. This valued the company at $1 million. The deal also included a royalty of $3 per unit sold until the Sharks’ investment was paid off.
What is Banana Loca’s net worth today?
On Shark Tank, Banana Loca was valued at $1 million by both Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary as well as the company’s founders. After the episode aired, interest in the product skyrocketed, so it may not be long until the company is worth even more.