JicaFoods

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JicaFoods Shark Tank Update

JicaFoods

Mark Furr

This post contains affiliate links, and we may be compensated if you buy something after clicking on our links.

JicaFoods makes nutritious, low-calorie, low-carb taco wraps out of the root vegetable jicama. JicaWraps’ founders say that one can eat tacos as often as they like, without worrying about the waistline. However, what will the Sharks think about this alternative to those delicious taco tortillas? Read our JicaFoods Shark Tank update to see if a Shark is willing open their checkbook to invest in the future of tacos. 

What is JicaFoods?

JicaFoods is a company which manufactures food items using jicama, a root vegetable which is high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The company is based in Congers, New York, and they have a manufacturing facility in Mexico. 

The company’s primary product, JicaWraps, are jicama-based taco wraps which have a fraction of the calories and carbs of traditional taco tortillas. 

Who created JicaFoods?

Jica Foods Founders

A married couple, Xin Wang and Melissa Colella-Wang, co-founded JicaFoods. After graduating from both The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York with a BFA, and from the Pratt Institute with an MA in Package Design, Xin worked for over 10 years in marketing for large consumer product goods companies. 

Melissa Colella-Wang earned a BS degree in Biology from Wellesley College, and while she attended college, she was also a member of an NCAA Division III swimming team. Prior to co-founding JicaFoods, Melissa worked in sales and operations in the pharmaceutical industry. 

How did JicaFoods get started?

JicaFoods co-founders, husband and wife team Xin Wang and Melissa Colella-Wang, were trying to live healthier lives, and they were even running triathalons together; however, they also loved to munch on snacks so much that this was one of their greatest challenges as they tried eating a healthier diet.

Eventually, they started experimenting with different vegetables to try to find something better to munch on. And after a vacation to Mexico, where they were introduced to the root vegetable jicama, they decided that they wanted to produce a snack from the healthy jicama vegetable. 

Xin and Melissa started by creating a jicama snack chip, JicaChips, however, when they began to build a company around their new snack chips, even though they hit $500k in sales, they quickly discovered that they were competing with huge multi-national corporations, and they were rapidly losing money. 

At one point, they had only $300 in the bank and $70k in credit card debt, so they sold their car and started to AirBnb their home just to keep going. This is when they were inspired to change gears and get out of the snack food business in favor of creating a jicama-based healthy, low-calorie, low- carb, nutritious taco wrap. Thus, JicaWraps were born. 

What happened to JicaFoods before Shark Tank?

After founders Xin and Melissa decided to pivot their company away from JicaChips in the salty snack food category to JicaWraps, their healthy jicama-based tortilla wraps, the company experienced a very fast turnaround. JicaFoods changed their product line in 2019, and in its first year selling JicaWraps, the company had $1 million in sales. The company continued to grow quickly with $4 million in sales in 2020, $5 million in 2021, and when they taped their Shark Tank episode, they were on track to sell $6 million worth of taco wraps. 

Prior to appearing on Shark Tank, JicaWraps could be found in around 700 stores in the US, including Whole Foods and Sprouts. The JicaFoods team revealed to the Sharks that they had also been spending a lot of money in 2020, as they were building their own manufacturing facility in Mexico, close to the source of jicama for their products. 

What do customers think of JicaWraps?

JicaFoods Product

In one of the strangest occurrences we’ve had since we began our journey of covering all things related to Shark Tank, this product, JicaWraps, represents the first time that we have ever been unable to find any consumer reviews of a product online.

In general, unless there are no other third-party sources available, we steer away from reviews posted on a company’s website or Facebook page, but for JicaWraps, we could not uncover any customer reviews even on sites controlled by the company.

Given that JicaFoods’ founders Melissa and Xin reported sales of $4-6 million each year between 2020 and 2022, it seems very odd that we are unable to find any product reviews online. We will continue our search for consumer reviews of the company’s jicama-based taco wraps and will update our site as soon as we are able to find something!

When did JicaFoods appear on Shark Tank?

JicaFoods appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 10, which aired on January 6, 2023. This episode featured guest Shark Gweneth Paltrow, actress and founder of lifestyle brand GOOP. 

Season 14 saw a number of strong pitches in the Tank, including a new way to play chess with ChessUp.

What happened to JicaFoods on Shark Tank?

JicaFoods co-founders, husband and wife team Xin Wang and Melissa Colella-Wang, entered the Tank and promptly exclaimed to the Sharks, “Let’s talk about something important: Tacos!” They also reminded the Sharks that while everyone loves tacos, our doctors tell us that we can’t eat them everyday. 

Melissa let the Sharks know that the problem with tacos is the calorie-laden tortilla, and Xin said that switching to lettuce wraps isn’t a great idea because they break apart easily, and they don’t taste great as a taco wrap. 

Melissa then said to the Sharks, “If only there was something that combined the nutritional benefits of a lettuce wrap with the functionality of a traditional tortilla.” And Xin responded quickly, telling the Sharks that there is a new alternative: JicaWraps, a crisp and refreshing tortilla alternative made from thin slices of fried jicama, the perfect nutritional alternative to the traditional taco tortilla. 

The couple explained to the Sharks that jicama is a root vegetable grown commercially in Mexico, and it is their hero ingredient, as it is super low calorie, super low carb, and super high fiber. And compared to a tortilla which contains 100 calories and 15 carbs, the JicaWrap has only 8 calories and 1 carb. 

Next, the Sharks sampled tacos made with JicaWraps, and the consensus seemed to be that the wraps were really good. During their sampling, it appeared that the Sharks were in no humor to mess around with this pitch, as the business questions commenced immediately.

Barbara Corocoran opened with asking for both the retail price of the product, and the cost to manufacture it, and she learned that the wraps costs $1.85 per unit to make, and JicaFoods wholesaled them to grocers at $2.99. The retail markets then sold the wraps to consumers at $4.99.

The Sharks also learned that there are about 15 wraps per package, and the consumer pays about $.30 per wrap, while traditional tortillas cost about $.28 each. After hearing this, Guest Shark Gweneth Paltrow said that she sees it as a trend in the wellness world, as first people were looking for gluten-free, but now they want grain-free products. 

Barbara then asked the JicaFoods team if they were making any money, and they relayed the story of how they started in the snack food business with JicaChips, but even though they were making sales, competition with the large corporations nearly put them out of business, but as soon as they pivoted to the healthy taco wrap business, things turned around quickly. 

The Sharks learned that over the four years from 2019-2022, sales steadily grew: $1million in 2019, followed by $4 million in 2020, $5 million in 2021, and a projected $6 million for 2022. Melissa also explained that they had a profit of $400k in 2021, and 2022 would be about the same because they were investing a lot of money to build their own production facility in Mexico. 

Next, Mark Cuban asked about distribution, and he was told that JicaWraps were sold in some 700 stores across the US. At this point, the Sharks seemed satisfied that they had enough information and were ready to decide whether or not to take a bite out of JicaFoods. 

Did JicaFoods get a deal on Shark Tank?

Yes, JicaFoods walked away from the Tank with a deal with Barbara Corcoran. In a slightly unusual deal, Barbara negotiated a deal for $300k in return for 6% equity and 3% in advisory shares, as well as a 10% pro rata share of what the founders earn from the business. 

With the Sharks looking ready to pounce, Kevin O’Leary announced that he believed that the JicaFoods’ team valuation was way out of line. He stated that they were asking for investment at a $10 million valuation while they had profits of only $400k. 

Barbara Corcoran did not allow Mr. Wonderful’s fairly harsh criticism to stop her from making an offer. She offered $300k for 10% of the business, but she also wanted a pro rata share of 10% of what Xin and Melissa took out of the business. After this offer, Mark Cuban quickly jumped in to declare that he is not a huge jicama fan, so he was out. 

Despite having the healthy lifestyle brand GOOP, and having published numerous recipes using jicama for her subscribers, surprisingly, Gweneth Paltrow also quickly went out. Lori Greiner joined the bandwagon saying that she could see that the company was in the right place at the right time, but she just didn’t think it was the right fit for her. 

Next, Xin went back to Barbara and asked her if she would do the deal for 5% equity rather than the 10% she was offering, but Barbara quickly stated that she would stick with 10%. Surprisingly, after having denounced the original valuation pretty harshly, Kevin O’Leary came back in and said, “I’ll do it for 9%, just to make this interesting for Barbara.”

Xin then countered both Barbara and O’Leary with an offer of 7%, but both of the Sharks declined. After Barbara and O’Leary each uttered a few unpleasantries about the other Shark, Xin turned to Barbara and asked her if she would do the deal for 6% and 2% in advisory shares. And Barbara said that she would do it for 6% equity, plus 3% in advisory shares, and pointing to O’Leary she said, “just to beat him out.”

Xin then looked to Barbara and said, “You’ve got a deal.”

JicaFoods Shark Tank update, what happened after Shark Tank?

It is believed that the deal between JicaFoods and Barbara Cororan has not yet closed; however, it also appears that JicaFoods has expanded their product line with two flavors of JicaSticks, and three flavors of their jicama-based salsa, Jica de Gallo. 

In addition to Whole Foods and Sprouts Markets, JicaFoods products are now being sold in a variety of retailers, including Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons. JicaFoods has also upped their game on social media with frequent posts on Instagram, where they now have over 8,000 followers. 

We will continue to follow the story of JicaFoods, as it will be interesting to see what happens when and if they are able to close their deal with Barbara Corcoran and add the marketing power of a Shark to their ranks. 

Author

  • Mark Furr

    Mark is a professional writer and editor currently living in Belize. He taught abroad at universities for many years, and he was also a Series Editor for Oxford University Press. After a career in education, he moved to Hawaii where he owned several businesses in the tourism industry. As a former business owner, Mark is interested in entrepreneurship and has always been a fan of Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den.