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Sap Maple

sap mapleEntrepreneurial cousins Nikita Salmon and Chas Smith want the Sharks to taste SAP Maple, their beverages made from maple and birch sap, in Shark Tank episode 919. Nick’s grandparents have been tapping maple trees since the 1950’s on their three hundred acre piece of land. Each year, they tap over 12,000 trees. What comes out of the tree is sap, which is then distilled into maple syrup. Nick says he and his cousin grew up drinking the stuff from a bucket!

Chas returned to Vermont after a three-year stint working for  Senator Patrick Leahy’s judiciary committee in D.C. Next, he enrolled in the University of Vermont’s new Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA program in 2014. When he and Nick started tossing business ideas around, they came up with SAP. Chas’ dad, Charlie, partnered with the two young men and a business was born.

It comes in cans with three different flavors or styles. One is carbonated like soda, one like sparkling water and one is just water. They produce and can everything in Vermont. The guys hope to join the growing market of plant-based drinks such as coconut, cactus, and other maple waters. Soda sales are going flat as consumers look for healthier alternatives.

The guys raised over $450,000 in equity and debt in 2015 to ramp up production. The rest of the start-up cash came from family and friends. They likely want a Shark to help them grow the brand beyond Vermont. Will a Shark tap into this new beverage?

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Sap Maple Shark Tank Recap

Nikita and Chas enter the Tank seeking $600,000 for 12% of their business.  They tell their story and give their pitch. Afterwards, they hand out samples. The results are mixed: Lori likes all three, but Mark, Robert and Barbara don’t like the sweeter products. Rohan thinks the birch sap soda is “nasty.” They make a can for 50 cents and sell it for $1.99 or $7.99 for a six pack. Sales in the past 15 months are $400,000. When they tell the Sharks they are basically carbonating raw syrup, they’re impressed.

A discussion of maple and birch sap’s health benefits ensues. Mark likes the products and could see giving it to his kids, but he doesn’t like their marketing; he’s out. Barbara doesn’t like the taste; she’s out. Lori really likes it but thinks the guys are too early; she’s early. Robert likes the health message – he offers $300,000 for 30% of the business. Rohan doesn’t see the “why” and he goes out. The guys counter with 20% and Robert goes out.

Sap Maple Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. After their episode aired, they had over $100,000 in online sales within 10 days. As of June, 2021, they aren’t in any national chains yet, but they are still selling from their website and Amazon.

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