Lulu Bang: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Few reality show judges can call themselves as lucky as the sharks of ABC's "Shark Tank," who've tasted their way through many delicious business ideas over the show's 14-season long run. There have been plant-based meats, nut butters, and dairy-free milks, donuts, jerkies, and even pizzas shaped like cupcakes, but it's sauces that remain one of the most popular business pitches on the show. The Sharks have seen several lines of sauces over the years, and one such business was season eight's Lulu Bang.

Philadelphia-based sisters Kelly and Jorrae Beard walked into "Shark Tank" hoping to make a "bang" with a cheeky pitch of their line of barbeque sauces: Joyce's Lulu Bang. The idea for the sauce business was conceived when the younger Beard sister — who had a background in catering — couldn't find a sauce that had the taste that she wanted at the stores. Upon deciding to make the sauce herself and finding it to be a hit amongst friends and family, the sisters knew that they had chanced upon a lucrative business idea.

Born out of a passion for cooking inherited from their mother, Joyce's Lulu Bang was a family-owned business from the onset in more ways than one. The name for their business was an ode to their mother Joyce and brother Mike, nicknamed Lulu Bang, who passed away in a carjacking incident. While Lulu Bang certainly had a story to tell, the sharks didn't seem too keen on wanting to be part of it.

What happened to Lulu Bang on Shark Tank?

"You can name it, we can bang it" was the Beard sisters' motto, causing more than one shark to blush. But their eye-turning pitch wasn't the only thing that grabbed the sharks' attention: They also had the sauces to back it up. Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and Mark Cuban both gave the sauces a thumbs up whereas Daymond John vouched that their sauces "would bring a tear to a glass eye." While Kevin O'Leary too appreciated their sauces, he sensed trouble on the horizon for Lulu Bang.

At the time of their appearance on the show, the Beard sisters had already snagged a regional deal with Walmart and were in 170 stores across the country. Although the sharks were impressed at first, the fact that they had made only $45,000 in three months through Walmart — with no online presence to add to the revenue — quickly deflated their enthusiasm.

Although this was why the entrepreneurs needed a $150,000 investment in exchange for 10% equity in their business, O'Leary thought that Lulu Bang would need a lot more than that to make a sizeable splash in the sauce market. Herjavec also pointed out problems with their branding, adding that the packaging was very Asian-looking for a barbecue sauce that claimed to be good on every food under the sun — further confusing things for consumers. Add to that the shipping troubles that come with transporting liquid-filled glass jars, and Lulu Bang was soon left without a single deal on the table.

Lulu Bang after Shark Tank

Although the Beard sisters left without any offers, let alone a deal, Lulu Bang made an impact that had sharks arguing for long after the sauces left the room. O'Leary expressed his concerns with fellow sharks about Lulu Bang ever gaining any success in an industry as competitive as a barbecue sauce one, claiming that Lulu Bang was one of those businesses that are "born in hell."

While the sharks were quick to come to Lulu Bang's defense in the absence of the entrepreneurs, O'Leary may have raised some very valid concerns. The industry for the production of barbecue sauce was valued at a whopping $1.9 billion in 2022 by Ibis World. This presents a lucrative opportunity for budding entrepreneurs hoping to get a bite of the booming industry but as the report notes, hefty competition from big-name players coupled with low barriers to entry for newcomers means that it's not easy to stand out or thrive in the barbecue-making business.

O'Leary called out other sharks for giving the entrepreneurs glowing feedback at the cost of holding back on the very real risks and problems that may come their way in the near future. Others including Cuban and Greiner argued that no business is ever easy and that demotivating entrepreneurs from steaming ahead with their business simply because it was tough made no sense. As it turns out, the positive encouragement may have been the way to go because, despite not securing an investment, Lulu Bang continues to sell its sauces across the U.S.

Is Lulu Bang still in business?

Deal or no deal, the show's history has shown that there are other perks that come with just appearing on the program. Free nationwide (and even global) publicity generates new interest, which brings in new consumers, ultimately leading to an increase in revenue in a phenomenon that's been dubbed the Shark Tank Effect. The Beard sisters listened to some of the feedback that they received from the Sharks. Lulu Bang now has its own website with fours kinds of sauces up for sale: the flag-bearing Joyce's LuLu Bang BBQ Fusion, Asian Persuasion with wasabi, a spicy hot sauce, and a bourbon marinade made from a base of their barbecue sauce. At the time of their appearance on the show, Lulu Bang's sauces were priced at $3.99 a jar, but the price seems to have been marked up since. The website indicates that a bundle of two sauces retails at $15.98 ($7.99 per jar) although discounts often slash that figure down to $10, which is still higher than the original price.

The Beard sisters also claimed that they were in talks with ShopRite during the show, which has since come to fruition. Lulu Bang's sauces are available in ShopRite stores across New Jersey and Pennsylvania alongside Walmart stores across nine states. In a nutshell, the product retails at a higher price and at a wider variety of venues.

What's next for Lulu Bang's founders

Lulu Bang has remained more or less the same since its appearance on "Shark Tank." The entrepreneurs have made no noticeable changes to their branding, and it's unclear how they seem to be handling the shipping issues that come with online sales as the Sharks predicted. With little to no social media presence, there's no update on when — if at all — new sauces will be added to the existing range.

That being said, the Beard Sisters have expanded Lulu Bang in other ways. Putting their catering experience, passion for cooking, and culinary skills to use, the Beards opened Lulu Bang Burgers & Wangs in January 2017 at The Common Table in West Philadelphia. The pop-up restaurant dished out chicken wings using their mother's recipe with Lulu Bang's line of sauces for marinades.

The duo have also launched a catering business named after their mother Joyce, which caters to all kinds of events and gatherings, including repast. The sisters charge about $12.50 per plate depending on the event, and according to the menu posted on their website, guests can expect plenty of Lulu Bang-infused dishes at the event, including wings, jerk chicken, and short ribs. While fans wait to see what's next for Lulu Bang, the Beard Sisters have not only managed to keep their business afloat for nearly six years, they've even managed to expand it — all without a Shark onboard!