Wildwonder is a company that offers sparkling beverages which are fruity and delicious while providing health-conscious customers with both live probiotics and prebiotic fiber. But was this healthly-drinks business able to quench the thirst of a Shark looking for a tasty deal? Read our Wildwonder Shark Tank update to find out.
What is Wildwonder?
Wildwonder is a beverage company which manufactures a line of drinks that contain both live probiotics and prebiotic fiber. Wildwonder’s drinks are made with functional herbs and delicious fruits to promote gut health. The company is located in San Francisco, California.
All of Wildwonder’s fruity drinks are made with GMO-free, certified organic ingredients, and they contain 5 grams of dietary fiber, with only 6 grams of sugar.
Who created Wildwonder?
Rosa Li, founder and CEO of Wildwonder, was born in China and when her parents immigrated to the US, Rosa was raised by her grandparents until she was 12 years. At 12, Rosa moved to the US to be with her parents, and at the time, she did not speak or understand the English language at all. However, within three years, Rosa was on her high school debate team, and she went on to acquire a very strong college education.
As an undergraduate, Rosa attended Northwestern University, where she received a BA degree in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences. She then attended the London School of Economics and Political Science before completing an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She was also awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, and she studied in Beijing, China for a year.
She started her professional career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, and worked at several other investment firms. Prior to founding Wildwonder, Rosa first founded an artisanal tea company, Rosalitea, in 2015.
How did Wildwonder get started?
In an interview with Cut Fruit Collective, a non-profit which supports Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the San Francisco area, Wildwonder founder Rosa Li explained that Wildwonder was inspired by healing tonics which her grandmother brewed for her when she was growing up in China.
Rosa said that her grandmother made lots of tonics with wild herbs, plants, botanicals and all sorts of other natural things. She also described that in Chinese medicine, there is wide use of herbs and herbal teas. And even in the US, Rosa’s mom still makes various teas with goji berries and herbs for her when she goes to visit. Rosa explained that the Chinese use these teas to calm stress or to help the digestive system, and she says that this is really the inspiration behind Wildwonder. She also says that her grandmother instilled in her the philosophy that food is medicine from a very early age, so she’s always believed in the power of natural remedies.
When talking about developing Wildwonder, Rosa describes herself as a foodie and that she loves delicious flavors, and as a foodie, she doesn’t believe that anyone should be giving up great taste for health benefits.
What happened to Wildwonder before Shark Tank?
Wildwonder founder Rosa Li launched Wildwonder in 2020, and her first focus for the business was to sell her healthy beverages to companies with large office complexes in the San Francisco Bay area, such as Facebook and Google. She started receiving large purchase orders from these companies, and with her background in venture capital, she thought that the business was off to a great start.
However, when the Covid pandemic closed down so many workplaces, Rosa’s revenue stream was wiped out completely, but instead of feeling angry or sorry for herself, she went to work. Within three months, Rosa knocked on the doors of 200 grocery stores, and by the end of the year, Wildwonder’s products were carried in over 100 stores, including Whole Foods stores in her region.
At the time of taping her Shark Tank episode, Rosa told the Shark’s that the company had sales of $1.4 million year-to-date, and by the end of 2022, they projected revenues of $2.5 million. Prior to Shark Tank, Wildwonder had also raised capital from investors, including a first round of $2.1 million, and at the time of taping for Shark Tank, investors were putting additional money into the company.
What do customers think of Wildwonder?
Along with a presence in retail grocery stores, Wildwonder sells their products directly to consumers both on the company website and through Amazon. On Amazon, their Six-Pack Sampler, advertised as ‘Seen on Shark Tank,’ has 462 ratings, with an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. Sixty percent of Amazon customers rate the healthy drinks at 5 stars, while 15% of Amazon purchasers give the product only one or two stars.
What are customers saying about Wildwonder?
One satisfied verified purchaser on Amazon stated:
“I have tried multiple products for gut health. This product is caffeine free with natural ingredients and low in sugar compared to many other products I have tried. The taste is great! The price is similar to many kombucha products. I watched the owner on Shark Tank explain her inspiration from her grandmother. I will continue to purchase this product because of the benefits I have gained since drinking the sparkling drink. If you want to heal your gut and are looking for a probiotic or prebiotic, I recommend this product!”
Another happy Wildwonder customer said simply, “I love the light flavors with only 6 grams of sugar. It is effervescent. I have now ordered my 2nd case. I love it.”
While there are many positive reviews for Wildwonder, with 15% of reviews giving the product only one or two stars, there are some negative comments as well. One disappointed customer wrote:
“I ordered a sample pack of Wildwonder after seeing the product on my favorite show, Shark Tank. I had high hopes, but the products simply aren’t good. I tried Guava Rose, Peach Ginger, and Mango Gold and the Mango Gold is the only flavor I would even consider tasting again.
Guava Rose really tastes like Bath & Body Works soap smells. Not. Good. Both cans ended up in my sink drain after two sips. Peach Ginger has a very mild peach flavor and a watered-down Ginger Ale flavor. Not at all what I was hoping for. The Mango Gold tastes like sparkling mango juice but has an aftertaste that really lingers. If it weren’t for the bad aftertaste, I might’ve liked it more. At almost $4 per can, I just can’t justify the purchase. So disappointed!”
Another verified purchaser also had a few harsh words about the Wildwonder Sampler Pack, “I don’t know how healthy it is, but it tastes like dirty water straight out of a flower pot.”
Overall, the reviews were mostly positive for Wildwonder, but it seems that for the customers who did not care for the product, they had extremely negative things to say.
When did Wildwonder appear on Shark Tank?
Wildwonder appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 11, which aired on January 13, 2023. Wildwonder founder Rosa Li pitched to Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, and Guest Shark Tony Xu, CEO and founder of DoorDash.
Wildwonder appeared in Season 14 of Shark Tank, which saw many successful pitches in the Tank, including Zipstring, an addictive new toy for people of all ages.
What happened to Wildwonder on Shark Tank?
Wildwonder founder Rosa Li entered the Tank to ask the Sharks for a $500k investment for a 5% equity stake in her company.
Rosa started her pitch in the Tank by telling the Sharks about growing up in China, where her grandmother taught her that food was medicine. Rosa said that her grandmother brewed lots of healing tonics using wild herbs and botanicals that were good for her health, soothed her stomach, and lifted her spirits.
Rosa then related to the Sharks that years later, as a grown up in stressful jobs in the US, she found herself returning to grandma’s homemade tonics. Rosa also told the Sharks that she had become a strong believer in gut health, and she decided to share this wisdom with the world. So, she launched Wildwonder, a sparkling drink which reimagined the healing tonics of her childhood by combining herbal wisdom with whimsical flavors.
Next, while the Sharks sampled a number of Wildwonder drinks, Lori Greiner commented, “I just drank the Guava Rose, which tasted tasted to me like rosewater with a little bit of bitterness, but we are talking probiotics, right?”
Rosa told Lori that Wildwonder’s drinks also had 5 grams of prebiotics fiber, and Mark Cuban said that it was unusual to find prebiotics in a drink. Rosa agreed with him and said that her company was a lot more holistic than companies who made kombucha, which is a really acquired fermented taste, and again, Cuban wholeheartedly agreed with her.
Rosa next explained to the Sharks that her beverages, without the fermented taste, could be a healthy alternative to soda, as each can has only 35 calories, and 90% less sugar than soda, and even 50% less sugar than most kombucha.
Guest Shark Tony Xu spoke up next, and asked Rosa, “Didn’t we go to school together?” And Rosa said, “Yeah, we did, thanks for remembering me.” Tony also wanted to know a little more about Rosa’s background, and she told the Sharks the story of growing up with her grandparents in China until she was 12, and then moving to the US with no knowledge of the English language. Rosa said that within three years in the US, she was on her high school debate team, and in college, she was the only sophomore to get an internship in Finance with Goldman Sachs at their New York Headquarters.
Rosa next explained that she had launched Wildwonder in early 2020, with an early focus on selling to businesses with huge office campuses in San Francisco, and she said the company saw early success with large purchase orders from Google and Facebook, but when Covid hit, she lost virtually all of her business. Then, rather than being angry or depressed, Rosa said that she hit the streets and knocked on the doors of over 200 grocery stores in three months, and she was able to get Wildwonder into 100 stores.
Rosa also told the Sharks that she had worked in both finance and venture investing, so she knew a lot about scaling businesses with capital efficiency and making a return for investors. The Sharks now looked ready to dig into the details of the business, and Kevin O’Leary started off by questioning the $10 million valuation Rosa had given her business for a Shark’s investment. Mr. Wonderful said that in the beverage business, it is very difficult to get distribution, so with this valuation, “in all due respect, 100 stores is nothing in terms of what you have to achieve.”
Rosa then told O’Leary that at the time of taping, the business had generated $1.4 million year-to-date and that they were projecting $2.5 million in sales for 2022. Rosa also acknowledged that the company was not yet profitable at this scale, but that she was working on improving their gross profit margins.
Barbara asked for both the retail price and the cost to produce the drinks, and Rosa informed her that they sell for $3.49 retail, and they cost $.90 per unit to make. Finally, Rosa also divulged that Wildwonder had previously raised $2.1 million, and investors were currently investing additional capital.
After hearing about the company’s revenues and the amount of money it had already raised, the Sharks were ready to declare their intentions.
Did Wildwonder get a deal on Shark Tank?
Wildwonder successfully negotiated a deal with Guest Shark Tony Xu, CEO and founder of DoorDash. Tony agreed to invest $500k in the company in return for 6% equity and 3% in Advisory shares.
Kevin O’Leary was the first to declare that Rosa’s story was fantastic, and Wildwonder’s drinks might be the best beverage he had ever tasted in the Tank, “But at 5%, I don’t even get out of bed.” Lori Greiner quickly followed Mr. Wonderful to the exit, as she stated, “For me, the risk isn’t matching the reward.”
Mark Cuban told Rosa that he can’t stand kombucha, but he could drink her drinks all day; however, he said that in order to grow, the company was going to have to raise so much money that he felt he would be a small investor who wouldn’t get to participate enough in the upside.
Barabara Corcoran said to Rosa, “I think that your product presents as well as you did today, flawless.” However, she also explained to Rosa that she had made two previous investments in beverage companies, and in both cases, she lost money. Barbara also jokingly said that she had written a note to her attorney stating that he should just kill her if she invested in another beverage business.
Guest Shark Tony Xu spoke last, and he told Rosa that he agreed with the other Sharks that the company would have to achieve a minimum scale before it really had a chance, and while he was not a beverage guy, he did understand scaling capital efficient businesses, so he made an offer of $500k for 9%, and he said that this was a final offer.
Rosa looked at Tony, and she said that she just didn’t want to go under the valuation of her previous round of raising capital, but she would meet Tony in the middle, so she countered with $500k for 6%, plus 3% Advisory shares. Tony responded simply, “Done.” So, Rosa walked out having a deal with Tony Xu, a former classmate in college, and a very wealthy Shark.
Wildwonder Shark Tank update, what happened after Shark Tank?
In a podcast for Start Up CPG Podcasts, which was recorded just a week after Wildwonder’s episode had aired, founder Rosa Li said that she had almost decided against applying to appear on the show because of the amount of time and work required to go through the process. However, on the night her episode aired, she was quickly convinced that she had made the right decision.
Rosa said that even as she was taping her Shark Tank episode, in September 2022, the business was already growing rapidly, and by the end of 2022, Wildwonder had become a national brand, and it was now carried in over 1,000 stores nationwide, including Sprouts stores. However, she also said that she was still surprised by the huge Shark Tank boost she saw on the night the show aired.
On the night that Wildwonder’s episode aired, Wildwonder sold out of all of their products on Amazon in less than two hours, despite the fact that they had stocked Amazon’s Fulfillment Center to their maximum limit. Rosa also declared that Wildwonder would record an entire year’s worth of online sales in just one month after their episode appeared.
While we have not yet been able to confirm whether or not Wildwonder’s deal with Tony Xu has closed, during the Start Up Podcast, Rosa said that she already had a meeting scheduled with management at DoorDash to discuss supplying Wildwonder drinks to their offices. So, while we can not confirm that the deal with the DoorDash founder has closed, it seems that the relationship is growing, so this may be a sign that the deal will close.
Since their Shark Tank episode aired, Wildwonder has added new products, and has continued to expand into more retail markets, so even if the deal with Guest Shark Tony Xu does not close for some reason, it appears that the company is on the road to great success in a difficult industry.