Heidi Ho: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Over the course of its 15 season-long run, "Shark Tank" has seen several plant-based companies walk through its doors. Though not all were able to convince the Sharks of their potential, some ended up snagging the best deals ever made in the show's history. Take for example Umaro Foods' plant-based bacon that won a whopping million dollar investment from Mark Cuban, or the vegan milk company Numilk that walked off with two million — double its original ask. Season 6, episode 9's Heidi Ho was one such business: Its co-founder Heidi Lovig made what was the fastest deal on the show at the time.

Lovig honed her skills in veganism during her time managing an eco-hostel and organic farm in Hawaii — after which she went on to Le Cordon Bleu to train as a chef. But it wasn't until she was tasked with designing a vegan menu for a Portland-based restaurant that the idea for Heidi Ho began to take shape. While looking for vegan cheese options at grocery stores to add to her menu, Lovig noticed that just about everything was either heavily processed or made from inferior ingredients using things like fat, starch, and artificial flavoring.

Sensing a gap in the market for plant-based cheese made from clean and organic ingredients — which also packed fewer calories and less fat than its dairy-based counterparts — Lovig launched Heidi Ho: a line of dairy-free, plant-based cheese made from vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, and herbs.

What happened to Heidi Ho on Shark Tank?

Lovig entered the Tank and quickly impressed the Sharks with her plant-based cheeses (though Mr. Wonderful had his qualms about pairing vegan cheese with wine), taking only five minutes to win a deal. Although it's true that viewers only see a fraction of the hours that go into filming a pitch, Lovig admitted to Vegan Business Media that it took no more than 14 minutes to tape her segment (per YouTube).

At the time of her appearance, Heidi Ho was already in four regions of Whole Foods Market, with expansion to five more regions on the horizon. Lovig believed that Heidi Ho was right on the brink of blowing up, and she needed the $125,000 investment to execute her expansion. In exchange, she offered the Sharks a 20% stake in her business.

While Heidi Ho's lifetime sales of $245,00 certainly sweetened the deal, it was ultimately the flavor and the texture of the cheese that did it for Lori Greiner. "I just ate the entire thing that you gave me and more, Robert's going into more, Mark loved it ... you know, Heidi, I'm going to make you an offer because I love it so much," she told the entrepreneur, offering her the $125,000 in exchange for 30% of equity (via YouTube). As fellow Sharks quickly backed out without much grilling or explanation, Lovig jumped to accept Greiner's sole offer, making Heidi Ho's pitch perhaps the fastest one in "Shark Tank's" history.

Heidi Ho after Shark Tank

Viewers may see Sharks shake hands with entrepreneurs on-screen, but there's a lot of due diligence that takes place before the deal is closed on paper. In fact, Forbes tracked 112 businesses that appeared on the show to find that nearly half of the deals never actually close, with Lori Greiner's offers being the least likely to materialize in particular. Thankfully for Lovig, however, Heidi Ho was one of the few businesses that Greiner did follow through with. Even more, she was no silent investor. The entrepreneur told The Oregonian that Greiner was a very hands-on partner who taught Lovig to have a strong spine in an industry as competitive as the plant-based one.

With Greiner in her corner, Lovig saw sales skyrocket as soon as Heidi Ho's episode went on air. There was so much traffic that Heidi Ho's website crashed within the first twelve minutes, and the company had racked in sales worth $200,000 through 6,000 orders over the next three days. Lovig told viewers in the update segment later in the season that, "business has exploded since being on 'Shark Tank'" (via Facebook). Where sales were at $140,000 in the year leading up to the show, they shot to $750,000 just four months later. Customers came pouring in, big-box retailers were keen to stock the selection of cheeses, and there was even international interest in taking Heidi Ho across borders.

Is Heidi Ho still in business?

All seemed to be going well for Heidi Ho after "Shark Tank." Sales were at an all-time high, Heido Ho outgrew its 900-square-foot production facility and moved to a bigger one, and Lovig hired more employees to keep up with rising demand. The plant-based cheeses had even made their way to Costco, and new products such as smoked bourbon, queso, and beer-infused "cheeze" dips were launched. Heidi Ho had also secured an undisclosed sum of investment from Blue Horizon Corporation in 2018.

Sadly, Heidi Ho's website seems to be inoperative at present, and there has been no activity on the company's social media pages since August 11, 2020 — indicating that Heidi Ho is no longer in business. The reason was likely hinted at in the last post published on its social media profiles. Announcing the joyous occasion of Heidi Ho's tenth anniversary, Lovig admitted that the years leading up to 2020 were filled with great challenges.

Covid-19 had created new obstacles for the plant-based cheese business, and the entrepreneur was "looking at ways to pivot and looking for ways to thrive in this climate" (per Facebook). While the comment sections on the posts are filled with love and support from "Shark Tank" viewers who are still keen to get a taste of Heido Ho's cheeses, the company seems to have put up its shutters for now.

What's next for Heidi Ho's founder?

Fans who have been following Heidi Ho since pre-pandemic times will know that this isn't the first time that the company has been missing in action. Heidi Ho went on a brief hiatus between 2018 and 2019 while Lovig worked on revamping the brand, adding new products, and collaborating with the likes of Spielman Bagels and Salt & Straw to put her plant-based cheeses in their bagels and ice creams. If the past is any indication, Lovig may very well return with Heidi Ho once again in the future — perhaps with more new offerings next time.

However, if the entrepreneur's LinkedIn page is anything to go by, fans can bid adieu to their plant-based cheeses. Lovig's profile indicates that she stopped working as Heidi's chef and co-founder in December 2022. Instead, she now runs another business called Red Rug Realty where she owns and operates short-term rentals while also helping other landlords manage their own — Heidi Ho or not, the entrepreneurial spirit still lives on!