Ready Set Food!: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Founded in Los Angeles in ​​2018, Ready. Set. Food! (RSF) is a three-step early allergen introduction system for infants that's easy for parents to implement and aims to prevent aversions to common foods as children grow. Following the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, RSF's product subscriptions safely introduce the most prevalent allergens — peanuts, milk, and eggs — to infants via a bottle. Although there are other likeminded products on the market, RSF is the first organic powder that can be added to breast milk or formula for infants four- to six-months-old. As the child develops in their early months and years, RSF products introduce additional allergens through solid foods.

Ready. Set. Food! was developed by physicians and parents Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, Dr. Andrew Leitner, and Daniel Zakowski. Chief allergist Dr. Marks-Cogan introduced her son David to allergens as a baby and realized how difficult it was to do so independently while co-founder Dr. Leitner saw firsthand how his son Abe's life-threatening food allergies affected his family and his son's quality of life. As such, the RSF brand wants to give parents the knowledge and tools to impact their children's health, eliminating the "work, confusion, and fear."

Appearing on Season 11, Episode 12 of "Shark Tank" in 2020, Zakowski, Marks-Cogan, and Leitner pitched Ready. Set. Food! to the panel of Sharks, including Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and guest Shark Rohan Oza. Looking to increase awareness and distribution of their game-changing product line, they asked for $350,000 for 7% equity in the business.

What happened to Ready Set Food! on 'Shark Tank'?

When Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, Dr. Andrew Leitner, and Daniel Zakowski appeared on "Shark Tank," they came prepared with scientific evidence. Clinical studies, like the landmark Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) study published in 2015, support that an early allergen introduction like RSF can prevent babies from developing allergies.

The team noted that RSF's soft launch in 2018 relied on 300 pediatricians in California helping to promote the product, resulting in year-to-date revenue of $250,000, mainly through online sales via the official website and Amazon. They added that the average family subscribed to RSF for four-and-a-half months, totaling $150 in sales each, but with new product launches forecasted, the company looked to expand the lifetime value of customers.

Shark Barbara Corcoran was the first to pass on the opportunity to invest, believing the packaging didn't sufficiently explain the product. Rohan Oza also passed. However, Mark Cuban believed parents would educate themselves on the product and offered $350,000 for 10% equity and 2% in advisory shares. As a contingent, Cuban wanted RSF to donate a subscription to a low-income family for every subscription sold.

Kevin O'Leary was also interested and offered $350,000 for 11% equity or $350,000 as a 36-month loan with 8% interest and 4% equity. Lori Greiner countered with $350,000 as a loan at 2% interest, plus 7% equity and a $1 per unit royalty until she recouped $500,000. After some negotiating, Cuban's deal, sans advisory shares, was accepted.

Ready Set Food! after 'Shark Tank'

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 13 children have food allergies, ranging from mild symptoms to severe reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis. With roughly two children in every classroom setting having a food allergy, there is clearly a market for early intervention, and RSF has tapped into it.

In an interview with FOX Business, Mark Cuban shared that his daughter has a severe peanut allergy, and his decision to invest in RSF was personal since, as he said, "This was the first time I saw a product that could help make food allergy prevention easy for all parents." Following through on the details of the "Shark Tank" deal, Cuban announced the brand's Giving Back program on "Good Morning America," which provides RSF to families in need.  

In July 2020, two months after the "Shark Tank" episode aired, RSF raised an additional $3 million in funding in an effort led by Cuban aligned with Danone Manifesto Ventures and AF Ventures. Within two years, the company expanded its Los Angeles headquarters and opened a warehouse in Exeter, California large enough to store organic ingredients in bulk, cutting raw material costs and freight bookings by 76%. As a Fulfilled By Amazon distributor, Ready. Set. Food! packages its products for Amazon to distribute, a partnership that has largely accelerated the company's growth.

Is Ready Set Food! still in business?

RSF is still in business, increasing its product line and distribution channels since appearing on "Shark Tank" in 2020. It's now available nationwide at retailers including Target, Walmart, Wegmans, Meijer, and Krogers. 

The company's proprietary system begins with the most prevalent allergens, safely introducing peanuts, milk, and eggs to infants via a bottle in two stages. Stage three is for babies over six-months-old that eat solid foods and introduces additional common allergens like cashews, almonds, walnuts, sesame, soy, and wheat. It can also introduce peanuts, milk, and eggs to solid food eaters new to the system. Then, later stages of the program help maintain allergen exposure, offering snack foods for toddlers that want to feed themselves.  

Each stage of RSF's program retails for $39.99 for a 30-day supply (one packet per day), with a 17% discount for a 90-day supply and a 29% discount for a 180-day supply. A six-month subscription is available for $34.99/month or $29.99/month for 12 months. Once babies regularly eat solid food, RSF sells a 15-serving pouch of oatmeal, available in flavors like peanut butter-strawberry, apple cinnamon, and banana apple, for $9.99. 

Launched in September 2023, Organic Puffs are the latest product from RSF, as part of stage four, appropriate for children over eight-months-old, retailing for $13.99 for two pouches. For children over 12-months-old, cereal bars are available for $7.99 for a box of four bars. Good Housekeeping named RSF's Peanut Butter Strawberry Organic Oat & Fruit Bars "The Best Allergen Introduction Snack Award" for 2023, only adding to the appeal.

The future for Ready Set Food!

The website and social media profiles for Ready. Set. Food! are a treasure trove of information and videos on early allergen introduction, including warning signs like eczema, which may indicate that your baby has a greater chance of developing food allergies, according to Providence Health. RSF has also partnered with the Mayo Clinic, Advocate Aurora Health, Saint John's Health Center, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to educate parents on the newest guidelines and provide content for Providence Health's Circle App, which automatically sends reminders to parents when it's time to start prevention as well as links to relevant articles. 

In June 2023, RSF partnered with Memorial Hermann Health System to continue its efforts to educate parents on medical research and give low-income families the tools they need. Also, in June 2023, Ready. Set. Food! collaborated with PBS' popular animated series "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood." The character of Daniel Tiger, who suffers from a peach allergy, now appears on age-appropriate RSF products, including Peanut Butter Strawberry Organic Baby Oatmeal, Blueberry Banana Organic Oat & Fruit Bars, and Apple Cinnamon Organic Puffs.

When RSF appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2020, the privately owned company estimated $450,000 in sales with a valuation of $2.4 million. In 2023, the company expects to bring in just under $5 million in revenue, pointing to a very promising future.