Mother Beverage/Poppi: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Poppi, a beverage marketed as a better-for-you soda, set out to harness the health-promoting qualities of apple cider vinegar without the harsh taste. Before the company had over 204,000 Instagram followers, 322,000 TikTok followers, and a "Shark Tank" deal, Poppi was a mom-and-pop operation named Mother Beverage.

Whether you make your own apple cider vinegar or buy an unfiltered version off the shelf, it is alive with something called the "mother," a culture of helpful bacteria that turns alcohol from yeast-induced fermentation into acetic acid. According to Healthline, this acid in apple cider vinegar can help decrease blood sugar, keep cholesterol in check, contribute to a sensation of fullness which can help in weight management, and promote overall gut health.

Couple Allison and Stephen Ellsworth were inspired to try different fruit juice and apple cider vinegar concoctions after Allison saw significant improvements in long-standing health issues after consuming apple cider vinegar for just one week. The result was an artisan, glass-bottled beverage that the two started selling at farmers markets in Dallas, Texas. To get the business off the ground, they raised about $125,000 from friends and family, but needed help from the sharks to take Mother Beverage to the next level.

How did Allison and Stephen Ellsworth pitch Mother Beverage?

The wife and husband team asked for $400,000 for 10% equity in their company on season ten of "Shark Tank" which aired in December 2018. They made a mark, for better or worse, by starting the sharks out with a shot of plain old apple cider vinegar before sampling their much-improved version — an apple cider vinegar-infused beverage. Sales up until that point had been at $500,000 to date, but they were producing the drink out of a manufacturing facility they established themselves. That fact, coupled with a supposed $4 million valuation, had sharks Bethenny Frankel and Kevin O'Leary shaking their heads and bowing out. Mark Cuban also said, "I'm out," after sharing concerns about how much more money they would need to raise to be competitive in the beverage market, and Lori Greiner liked the product but not enough to invest.

Rohan Oza, the last shark standing and beverage brand wizard behind Vitamin Water, Vita Coco, and Bai, decided to make an offer. To make it worth his while, he needed to up the ante. He offered Mother Beverage the asked for $400,000 in exchange for a 25% stake. The other sharks were surprised by the offer and encouraged the Ellsworths to accept, which they gratefully did.

How did Mother Beverage become Poppi?

Immediately after the episode of "Shark Tank" aired, Mother Beverage received massive traffic on its online platform and sold out of products, just like other beverage products that appeared on "Shark Tank," like Genius Juice. Quickly after that, Mother Beverage went under a major rebrand under the guidance of CAVU Consumer Partners, headed by shark investor Rohan Oza. The boutique-ready glass bottles with the word "mother" written in slanted cursive were replaced by bright bi-colored cans with bold images of fruits splashed across the side. That's because they were not able to trademark the name "mother" for their product which also meant they had to turn down retailers that were interested in stocking the beverage. Even though they had to pump the brakes for the rebrand, they still did more than $1 million in sales.

Before the show, Mother Beverage was in around 200 shops. Since the relaunch in 2020, Poppi is now available at more than 20,000 big-name stores like Target, Whole Foods, Publix, and H.E.B. The rebrand was a huge success. In a "Shark Tank" update on YouTube, Oza said, "You see it on a shelf, you want to gravitate to it. I love the brand so much that I've doubled the investment."

Is Poppi still in business?

Poppi is alive and thriving. Apple cider vinegar-infused Poppi sodas all boast prebiotic gut health benefits with fewer than five grams of sugar and only 25 calories. They come in various flavors, both in fun fruit combinations like ginger lime, raspberry rose, and strawberry lemon, as well as classic soda shop offerings like root beer, cola, grape, and orange.

TikTok has been a cornerstone of Poppi's growth. Allison Elsworth posted a video on a whim, and within 24 hours, Poppi had seen an additional 100,000 in sales. TikTok is now the platform of choice for the majority of advertising for the company. Poppi's TikTok page is full of content made by Elsworth and Poppi staff, influencer shoutouts, giveaways, and trendy mocktail recipes. Between billboards splashed across New York City and a viral TikTok video of icon Jennifer Lopez drinking a can of Poppi while dancing on the beach, the publicity that Poppi has garnered is certainly noteworthy.


Jennifer López Drinking poppi. This is insane 😝 #drinkpoppi #cambiaelpaso #jlo #dreams

♬ Cambia el Paso – Jennifer Lopez & Rauw Alejandro

What are Poppi's plans for the future?

TikTok celebrities and other famous faces led the way on an additional round of investments that amounted to around $13 million in 2021. In 2022, Poppi secured $25 million in series B venture capital funding. As far as reach, Poppi is looking toward the future with big plans to flesh out a direct-store delivery (DSD) model. A DSD program allows a manufacturer to deliver to a store without using a distribution middleman, streamlining the supply chain and saving Poppi money. This means that Poppi is signing contracts to be distributed in the same channels as beverage giants like Keurig Dr. Pepper, an incredible feat for a new company in an emerging market. By the end of 2023, Poppi intends to reach 30,000 stores and has its sights set on wholesale clubs like Sam's Club and Costco. There might even be a couple of new flavors in the pipeline.

Poppi remains a privately owned company and the exact valuation has not been disclosed. Poppi does have around 34% of the functional soda market cornered, which is an industry predicted to be worth $173 billion by 2025. It is safe to say that Poppi is finding its stride in success. In a Facebook Live video, founder Allison Ellsworth shared how meaningful it has been for her to see the success of Poppi because this was a product she created that changed her life.