Simply Good Jars, the Philadelphia start-up that sells pre-made salads designed to stay fresh without preservatives, hasn’t yet made any money. And it had to overhaul its business model on the fly during the pandemic.
But that didn’t prevent Philadelphia chef Jared Cannon from receiving a $500,000 investment from two Shark Tank TV show heavyweights: billionaire Mark Cuban and marketing maven Lori Greiner, on the season premiere March 5.
Cannon introduced viewers to his convenient, healthier meals that also better the planet on ABC’s 12th season of Shark Tank. “At Simply Good Jars, we are revolutionizing the packaged salad to create simply delicious meals,” Cannon said during Friday’s episode.
Not only is salad his “favorite” meal to prepare, but Cannon wanted to create a healthy, convenient food option and hoped to reduce plastic waste with the reusable and recyclable jars.
“All our jars are returnable, so for every jar that we get back, we not only reuse it, but also donate one meal to feed someone in need,” Cannon told the Sharks.
Last year, Simply Good Jars “did just shy of $300,000. We’re $475,000 year to date. We’re on track to do $700,000, $750,000 this year,” Cannon said. But, “we’re not profitable. We won’t be for about a year.”
Cannon already raised $2.5 million total from outside investors, he said, adding that he owns 51% of the company that he founded in 2017.
“Before COVID, the primary revenue driver for our business was really supported by this fleet of these smart coolers that we would put into places [like] hotels, airports, convention centers, office buildings, universities,” Cannon said.
As stay-at-home orders went into effect across the country to curb spread of the pandemic, “the places we had distribution [in were] 98% gone, almost overnight.”
Cannon added that “we had to figure out how we were going to follow that customer to where they are now, which was at home working, shopping at their local store, and we were able to very quickly make the pivot to retail.”
As a result, Cannon now sells Simply Good Jars in convenience stores and Walgreens locations across the U.S. He also partnered with “ghost kitchens,” or facilities producing food for delivery.
“That’s where you maximize your margin and where you make the most money,” Cuban observed.
Cuban and Greiner agreed to take 10% equity for their joint $500,000 investment.
The Inquirer previously covered Cannon when he brought his concept for Simply Good Jars to life, leaving an 18-year career working for celebrated restaurants and growing fast-casual eateries.
Cannon graduated from Temple University’s Fox School of Business in 2016 with a master of science in innovation management and entrepreneurship.
But his passion for food started when he was just a toddler.
Cannon was 2, growing up in a food-obsessed Italian household in Newark, Del., when he began indulging an odd habit.
“I used to just open the fridge and stare at the light and look at things,” recalled Cannon, now of Cherry Hill. His mother, he said, also “has pictures of me at 2 or 3 on a step stool making pasta on the counter.”
At 15, he was cooking Christmas Eve dinner for the family.
Little wonder he wound up at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., graduating in 2004 and spending six years in South Florida working for Ritz Carlton hotels while simultaneously earning a bachelor’s degree in hotel/restaurant/hospitality management from Florida International University.
After graduating as an executive chef, Cannon went to work in restaurants and food retailers in Charlotte, N.C., and then in and around Philadelphia, for Iron Hill Brewery, Honeygrow, Tria, and Di Bruno Bros.
The jars of pre-made salads use a patent-pending packaging technique designed to keep fruits and vegetables fresh without preservatives. The meals use locally sourced ingredients and dishes can be fully mixed within seconds.
Cannon plans to use the $500,000 from Cuban and Greiner to expand into more cities.