Frescos Naturales is a company which puts a bubbly twist on traditional, latin-inspired drinks, aguas frescas. Frescos Naturales produces delicious, water-based drinks made with real ingredients, just water, fruit or flowers, and a little sugar. But will a Shark be tempted to drink up with this modern take on a traditional beverage? Read our Frescos Naturales Shark Tank update to find out.
What is Frescos Naturales?
Frescos Naturales is a company which makes a line of latin-inspired drinks, combining the flavors of traditional aguas frescas with a modern twist of bubbles. The company is based in Boulder, Colorado.
Frescos Naturales has six flavors of sparkling aguas frescas, and they craft all of their drinks using only three ingredients: water, fruit, and a little sugar. Frecos Naturales drinks contain, on average, just 60 calories.
Who created Frescos Naturales?
Frescos Naturales was founded by Juan Ignacio Stewart, who was born in Guatemala, and moved to the US with his family when he was 17 years old. Juan attended college at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he earned a BFA in Film Studies and Media Production.
After graduating from college, Juan’s early professional career was centered around both media production and teaching or youth outreach positions. He worked on many media projects in Colorado, and he also served as a youth outreach coordinator, both with the University of Colorado, and for a non-profit institution.
Juan made the leap into the world of entrepreneurship when he founded his first food company, Green Belly Foods, in 2015. Green Belly manufactures and sells a line of Guatemalan-inspired hot sauces. While Juan still owns and operates Green Belly, he launched Frescos Naturales in late 2020, so he is now working in two different sectors of the Food and Beverage industry.
How did Frescos Naturales get started?
When Frescos Naturales founder Juan Stewart launched his new line of classic Latin-American carbonated fruit beverages, he was already in the latin-inspired food industry, with his Green Belly Foods company, a Boulder, Colorado hot sauce company that already had its products in local Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and other retailers.
Juan told Boulder Lifestyle magazine that being able to test his products at farmers markets in Boulder, which he had done beginning in 2015 with the hot sauce, has been key to his success. Where he grew up in Guatemala, Juan explains, “people vastly prefer lemonade or horchata over water because there is abundant, inexpensive fruit from which to make drinks.”
Juan also told the magazine that the idea to bottle and sell these drinks came from his son, who told him, “Pops, this is what you should be bottling.” Juan originally used glass bottles for his new take on aguas frescas, but he switched to cans because the glass bottles were so expensive. And, while Juan knows that traditionally these aguas frescas would not be carbonated, he says he added the carbonation after the switch to cans because the idea excited him.
Juan told Bolder Lifestyle that “Colorado has a vibrant beer industry that allows you to get cans and be able to carbonate stuff pretty easily,” so for him, it was “an exciting innovation from the more traditional way,” although he still hopes to make non-carbonated versions in the future.
What happened to Frescos Naturales before Shark Tank?
In December 2020, Juan launched Frescos with one just flavor, Rosa de Jamaica, which is a hibiscus flavor, a very traditional flavor for aguas frescas in the latin world. In January 2021, Juan got to work, selling the drinks door-to-door at bars, restaurants, and cafés around Boulder.
With his training and background in media, Juan was also comfortable both behind a camera and onstage, so in 2021, he participated in a Pitch Slam competition in Boulder, and he won $3k in cash and a number of in-kind business consulting services on branding strategy, finance, and brokering.
Juan’s company had $182k in sales in its first full year of trading in 2021, and by the time he taped his Shark Tank episode in 2022, Frescas Naturales had been picked up by Kroger, and they were available in 4 major national retailers, including 130 King Sooper stores in Colorado, and another 240 Kroger-owned stores in southern California.
During the taping of his Shark Tank episode, Juan told the Sharks that the company was projected to have sales of $330-$350k in 2022, and for 2023, they believed that sales would reach $850k.
What do customers think of Frescos Naturales?
Interestingly, for a company which has been trading since 2020, we were unable to find any customer reviews online. We generally look for third-party review sites which are not affiliated with the company, but in this case, there weren’t even any reviews to be found on either the Frescos Naturales website, nor on its Facebook page.
We did, however, discover a professional review of Frescos Naturales in the trade publication BEVNET. The trade magazine states:
“When it comes to flavor, Frescos is definitely top notch. The SKUs have only a handful of ingredients per variety, creating clean and straightforward profiles that basically taste like a traditional aguas fresca that has been diluted with sparkling water. This approach results in products that are crisp and refreshing, which is certainly different from traditional aguas frescas and their typically full bodied and sweet flavor.”
BEVNET’s reviewer goes on to say, “All five flavors feel as though they are on equal footing; we suspect that choosing a favorite will just come down to personal preference. However, we suspect that Mango and Piña, which are the two most basic flavors of the lineup, will have the most broad appeal.”
So, while it appears a bit odd that there were no consumer reviews available for Frescos Naturales, this new twist on the agua fresca seems to be well received in the industry, so as things progress, we expect to see customers sharing their thoughts on these latin-inspired products.
When did Frescos Naturales appear on Shark Tank?
Frescos Naturales appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 12, which aired on January 20th, 2023. The company pitched to regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, and returning Guest Shark Daniel Lubetzky, founder of healthy snack food giant KIND.
Frescos Naturales appeared in Season 14 of Shark Tank, which saw another latin-inspired company, JicaFoods, make a strong pitch on the show.
What happened to Frescos Naturales on Shark Tank?
Frescos Naturales founder Juan Stewart entered the Tank and asked the Sharks for $130k investment in return for an 8% equity stake in the company.
Juan began his pitch by telling the Sharks that “Latin-American food and culture are now a part of the fabric of this country, anybody ever hear of Taco Tuesday?” However, he also told the Sharks that while the latin-influenced food and culture have been embraced, there were very few healthy Latin-American drink alternatives in the US market.
Juan then explained that for people in Mexico, Central America, and other latin cultures, as well as for Latinx immigrants in the US, people are used to drinking aguas frescas, and many families make them at home. These are water-based drinks made with real ingredients, just water, fruit or flowers, and a little sugar.
Juan said that he lived in Guatemala until he was 17, and he fondly remembers drinking these healthy drinks, and this is what led him to create Frescos Naturales, the first full line of “better for you, latin-inspired, sparkling aguas frescas.” And he told the Sharks that his drinks are made with only three natural ingredients: water, fruit or flowers, and a little sugar.
Next, the Sharks sampled the Frescos Naturales drinks, and they seemed to enjoy the flavors. Kevin O’Leary said simply, “Oh, that’s good,” and Daymond John added, “It’s so light.” During the tasting, O’Leary opened the questions by asking for the number of calories and sugar content, and he learned that the drinks have about 60 calories each, with between 5-10 grams of added sugar, depending on the recipe.
Lori Greiner then switched gears and asked Juan about his background, and Juan told her that he grew up drinking aguas frescas in Guatemala, and that he always made these drinks at home for his family here in the US. One day, while drinking a homemade agua fresca, Juan’s son said to him, “Pops, you should be bottling these and selling them.” With this simple thought, the idea for Frescos Naturales was born.
Juan also revealed that he was no stranger to the Latin-inspired food and beverage industry, as in 2015, he launched a company called Green Belly Foods, which made traditional hot sauces, and this company was still active, selling products across the state of Colorado.
Mr. Wonderful got down to business and wanted to know if Juan had a game plan for distribution, and Juan said that Frescos Naturales had been picked up by Kroger, and they were in 130 stores in Colorado and 240 more stores in southern California. Juan also told the Sharks that they had just started shipping in 2021, and had $182k in sales for that first full-year in business.
Mark Cuban asked for year-to-date sales for 2022, and Juan stated that they had $100k for the first six months of 2022, but they projected $330k-$350k for the year. The Sharks all looked a bit concerned by this turnover for the current year.
Guest Shark Daniel Lubetzky told Juan that with an ask valuation of $1.6 million, he would look for sales of $500k to $1 million. Daymond John got into the action next, asking Juan about the retail price and cost to manufacture the drinks, and he learned that the company makes the drinks for .88 per can, and sells them at $2.10. Daymond followed up by asking the retail price, and all of the Sharks seemed surprised to hear that the drinks sold for as much as $4.50 per can in some stores.
After learning about the cost of goods and the retail price of Refrescos Naturales products, the Sharks looked ready to declare their interest.
Did Refrescos Naturales get a deal on Shark Tank?
Refrecos Naturales successfully got a deal on Shark Tank. Guest Shark Daniel Lubetzky agreed to invest $130k, and he received 15% equity in the business in return for his investment.
Daymond John was first to show his hand when he told Juan, “You would have to teach me so much. I don’t think that it’s something that I can help you with.”
Kevin O’ Leary spoke next and told Juan that he had seen many beverage pitches in the Tank over 14 years, and that while he finds that it is impossible to get market share in the sector, he thinks that the cultural niche to Juan’s product is really intriguing. He continued and said that he had never considered investing in a beverage company in the Tank, but Juan’s was the first one that he had thought about. Finally, Mr. Wonderful told Juan that he always called beverage entrepreneurs cockroaches, and he said to Juan, “You are a cockroach, but a really nice one.”
Mark Cuban then bowed out quickly citing the need for massive investment to get any traction in the industry and to maintain shelf space in the retail markets once you had placed the products. Lori Greiner quickly stated that the business was “extremely expensive and extremely competitive,” and she followed the others to the exit.
There was one Shark left swimming, fellow latino, Daniel Lubetzky. Daniel told Juan that he loved his personality and that he wanted to invest, but he was worried that Juan didn’t realize the road was going to be on. Juan then answered Daniel by telling him that right before he launched the business, his 15-year-old son had been diagnosed with cancer.
Juan told Daniel that dealing with a shortage of aluminum for cans during Covid wasn’t a problem, explaining the aguas frescas concepts to gringos wasn’t a problem, working late and pushing pallets wasn’t a problem, and getting accounts wasn’t a problem. He learned that none of this stuff was hard compared to trying to help his son, who was now 19, and had been cancer free for 3.5 years.
Daniel was moved by this story, but he said because of the numbers, the company just wasn’t investable right now; however, if he could get another Shark to join him, he would do a deal. O’Leary quickly jumped back in to say that he would share the deal with Daniel for 30%.
Juan said that he really appreciated the offer but that his mark was 20%, and O’Leary said that he could not do 20%. Daniel then told Juan that he would do the deal at 25%. And after a brief discussion of possible future financing, Juan agreed to the deal.
Frescos Naturales Shark Tank update, what happened after Shark Tank?
Frescos Naturales, like many other Shark Tank companies, experienced a massive Shark Tank effect immediately following the airing of its episode. The company reported that their website received so much traffic on the night which the episode aired, and the next morning, that the website completely crashed. Then, it took the company several days to get their web store back online.
We could not independently verify that the deal between Frescos Naturales and KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky has closed. However, on the Latinx podcast, LatinxCan, a program dedicated to showcasing Latinx professionals, Frescos Naturales founder Juan Stewart said that he had been working with Daniel’s team and that the team had been providing mentorship. This may indicate that the deal has closed, but in some cases, even before a deal closes, we have seen past reports that indicate a Shark’s team has sometimes started working with an entrepreneur, in a more casual way, until the deal actually closes.
If sales immediately following the airing of the Frescos Naturales episode are any indicator of the direction in which the company is heading, there appears to be a very bright future ahead for this Latin-influenced drinks company. While Juan’s episode aired in late January 2023, he told the LatinXCan podcast that for just the first quarter of 2023, the company’s sales were already triple of what they had been for the entire previous year.