IncrEdible Eats: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Disposable cutlery, handy packaging, and things like plastic straws and drinking cups have popularized the to-go culture of eating and drinking — but that convenience comes at the cost of a mammoth amount of single-use plastic waste. Even global fast-food giants have been trying to grapple with this complex problem for years, spending millions on research and development to cut down on the plastic waste that they generate.

While chains like Starbucks are going strawless and McDonald's has switched to making its cutlery with renewable fiber, Dinesh Tadepalli — who appeared in season 13, episode 3 of "Shark Tank" – has a more delicious solution: His company IncrEdible Eats not only makes spoons, sporks, straws, and chopsticks that are entirely plastic-free, but they are fully edible too!

Tadepalli originally moved from India to the U.S. in 2007 to pursue a Master's degree in electrical engineering but everything changed on one fine day in 2018 when he entered an ice cream parlor with his daughter. Shocked by the mountain of discarded plastic spoons lying in the trash can, Tadepalli had a life-changing realization: "It just hit me that even with being aware of the plastic pollution, why didn't I think twice before using a plastic spoon" (via Industry Leaders Magazine). Hoping to leave a better world behind for his children, the entrepreneur sold his home to fund IncrEdible Eats, which started selling its edible utensils in February 2019.

What happened to IncrEdible Eats on Shark Tank

Tadepalli walked into "Shark Tank" in late 2021 with great passion and gusto for his environment-saving sustainable business, and all it took was one taste of his edible utensils for the Sharks to share his enthusiasm. Lori Greiner found the savory spoon to be like a "spicy, pizza-flavored breadstick" that she would be more than happy to munch on even as a snack (per YouTube). She also noticed that the sweet vanilla-flavored spoon mimicked a waffle cone when eaten with ice cream, finding the edible utensils delicious and ingenious.

But IncrEdible Eats wasn't without troubles: The business had only made $170,000 in lifetime revenue from sales of 1.2 million edible spoons. The edible utensils also sold for 20 cents a spoon, which was considerably higher than the one to two cents that plastic spoons go for, leaving Barbara Corcoran thinking that IncrEdible Eats was fueled more by passion than cost-crunching numbers.

Despite concerns, IncrEdible Eats had several offers on the table. While Tadepalli's original ask was for a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 7% stake in his business, Kevin O'Leary wanted 35% for the funding. Sensing business potential in IncrEdible Eats, Mark Cuban too made an offer for 25% in return for $500,000 as did Daniel Lubetzky who, charmed by Tadepalli's "deliciously adorable" charisma, made a sudden return after originally backing out. But it was with Greiner who Tadepalli ultimately shook hands, accepting the $500,000 investment in return for 15% of equity.

IncrEdible Eats after Shark Tank

IncrEdible Eats was not short of offers on "Shark Tank," and viewers saw Tadepalli accept Greiner's offer on the show — but unfortunately, the deal never actually closed afterward. Although the precise reason for the failed deal remains unknown, Tadepalli told The Business Journals that "they changed the deal terms." The absence of Greiner and her funding, industry contacts, and expertise must have certainly been a bummer, but it wasn't all bad news for IncrEdible Eats.

As is the case with several businesses that appear on "Shark Tank," the show gave them nationwide publicity. Tadepalli reported having 150,000 pre-orders because of his appearance on the show, which — despite brief issues with shipping — were quickly fulfilled. While the exposure is always helpful, the entrepreneur originally came onto "Shark Tank" hoping to secure an investment that would enable IncrEdible Eats to hire more employees and boost the production of its edible utensils. The failure of the deal with Greiner coming to fruition may have been a roadblock — but it turns out that Tadepalli did find an investor in the New York-based venture capital fund Big Idea Ventures, who financed $200,000 in seed funding in 2021.

Is IncrEdible Eats still in business?

During his appearance on "Shark Tank," Tadepalli proudly admitted that he had found the purpose of his life with IncrEdible Eats, and that may very well be one of the reasons why his company is still very much in business. In 2022, Dippin' Dots announced a partnership with IncrEdible Eats where its vanilla and chocolate-flavored spoons would be sampled at all outlets across the country, effectively bringing Tadepalli's journey to a full circle since his visit to an ice cream parlor with his daughter. According to the company's website, IncrEdible Eats has sold over six million edible utensils to date, reduced its production costs by 75%, and has won eight innovation awards along the way.

While IncrEdible Eats is still in business, some of the Sharks' initial concerns do seem to have been realized. During a presentation for Research Triangle Park, Tadepalli admitted to several failed deals with fast food chains to get his edible utensils into the door and push plastic ones out. Without mentioning any names, the entrepreneur hinted that while the sustainability team of a chain that disposed of 70 million spoons each year was keen on partnering with IncrEdible Eats, the finance teams couldn't get behind the significantly higher cost of the edible utensils. Tadepalli also confessed to having denied an offer from a chain to sell his edible utensils as snacks as opposed to sustainable replacements for plastic cutlery, adding that he's had to make several tough decisions along the way.

What's next for IncrEdible Eats?

At the time of his appearance on the show, IncrEdible Eats had vanilla, chocolate, oregano chili, and black pepper flavored sweet and savory edible spoons, as well as plain straws and sporks, which they continue to sell via their website in small packs and in bulk quantities. While there haven't been any new products or flavors since the show, the entrepreneur is certainly looking at expanding IncrEdible Eats' edible utensils. Tadepalli plans on launching all-new boba straws and coffee stirrers as well as bringing back the chopsticks that viewers saw on "Shark Tank" — all while expanding its existing range of flavors in the future.

IncrEdible Eats is also open to investments from fans who visit its website and fill out a form indicating their interest to put forth anywhere between $500 to over $25,000 in funding. The entrepreneur hopes to use these investments for global expansion, taking his edible utensils to interested businesses across 97 countries. He also hopes to open a second production facility in North America (the primary one being in India) to decrease shipping costs, reduce carbon footprint, and increase the shelf life of his edible utensils. The move is projected to decrease the overall price of products, further reducing the price disparity between IncrEdible Eats' edible utensils and cheaper plastic options. As for Tadepalli himself, his goal is to not take any profits for himself until IncrEdible Eats replaces 100 million single-use plastics, indicating a bright future ahead for his edible utensil business.