Deux: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

In 2020, when Los Angeles was in lockdown, Sabeena Ladha put her time to good use. As a self-proclaimed 'health nut,' she set out to transform one of her favorite childhood sweets with what she wanted to be good-for-you ingredients. She had been taking an abundance of supplements to address everything from stomach and skin issues to immunity boosters and calming herbs. She created a cookie dough called Deux (pronounced: dough) enhanced with these vitamins and functional ingredients, made without animal products, gluten, preservatives, or refined sugars. 

Ladha made her dough from oats, nut butter, and flaxseed, sweetened with coconut sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Each flavor has a specific function and is fortified with supportive ingredients like vitamin B12, amino acids, collagen, ginseng, and elderberry. Her original flavors were chocolate chip, brownie batter, and peanut butter, and the dough can be enjoyed raw straight from the jar or baked into cookies.

Ladha's parents immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan and India. They arrived without much, but her father saved and was able to open a gas station. She was practically raised there, and it's where she developed a taste for snacks such as Oreos, boxed mac and cheese (which is so easy to upgrade), and Honeybuns. Her love for snacks led to a job as brand manager for Frito-Lay at PepsiCo. where she developed the skills she could eventually apply to growing her own brand. Within one year of launching Deux, Ladha was invited to appear on "Shark Tank."

What happened to Deux on Shark Tank?

Sabeena Ladha appeared on Season 13, Episode 6 in November 2021, requesting $300,000 for 10% equity. She disclosed that her newly launched company had sold $70,000 in the preceding fourth quarter, with $630,000 in total revenue, and the year projected to close at $1.2 million. That very day, Deux had been approved for sale at Whole Foods. 

Robert Herjavec said that Ladha was "one of the most impressive entrepreneurs that's stood on that stage," but having no interest in sweets, he was out (via YouTube). Kevin O'Leary said Deux wasn't the kind of food he was interested in, to which Ladha responded by saying, "With all due respect, you're not exactly the target consumer." Mark Cuban was out because of concerns with high-calorie foods contributing to childhood obesity, but added that Ladha "had a problem reading the room." 

When everyone was out, Herjavec returned with an offer of $300,000 for 15%, specifying that he wanted to back her, but that there would be no negotiating. Despite this, Ladha countered with a 12.5% stake, to which Herjavec reiterated that his offer was final. Ignoring this, Ladha asked for 10% with 5% in advisor shares. Clearly offended, Herjavec replied, "No, no, I'm not gonna do it" (per YouTube).

Ladha then exclaimed, "Alright, I'll take it!" ... but it was too late (via YouTube). Herjavec was out — for good this time. After Ladha left the stage in disbelief, Cuban summed up by repeating, "Read the room."

Deux after Shark Tank

Despite not closing a deal after Herjavec's shocking retraction, Deux still benefited from the "Shark Tank" effect. Online sales soared immediately following, and Sabeena Ladha was able to take advantage of the great PR and substantial exposure. Soon after, she was able to ride the wave to an even bigger investment than she'd sought in the Tank — within just one week of opening a seed round, the campaign raised $1 million dollars.  

In a bizarre twist, a lot of the attention Ladha received after the "Shark Tank" episode aired wasn't focused on her vegan, gluten-free cookies – but rather on the outfit she chose for her appearance. Apparently, some people thought she wasn't dressed appropriately and took issue with her hot pink business-style jacket and shorts set, worn with low, white slingback heels. She turned to TikTok to share some of the abuse she'd received, including being called stupid, accused of using her looks to get what she wants, and attacked with profanity-laced expletives.

The video, which has been viewed more than 1.3 million times, presented an opportunity for a broader discussion about feminism and the ongoing challenges women face in the workplace. She stated in an interview with Forbes that "it can still offend people that you're a strong, empowered woman[,] or that you can't mix business with fashion or business with femininity."

Is Deux still in business?

Deux is very much still in business, and the company has done so well that you have to wonder if the "Shark Tank" judges are kicking themselves for letting this one get away. By January 2024, the company had fundraised $6 million and experienced exponential growth.

In October 2023, the brand celebrated having sold its millionth unit on its third birthday. Deux is sold in more than 2,500 retail stores nationwide, with plans in motion to increase to over 4,000. You can find Deux in Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Hy-Vee, Erewhon, The Fresh Market, Lassens, and more. The company also sells its products directly through its website, offering membership perks and a flavor of the month club, both with access to limited edition releases. 

In March 2023, Deux expanded its offerings with glazed donut holes. These tasty bite-sized treats have added B12 and L-theanine and flavors include classic glazed, chocolate, not-so-red velvet (no artificial red food coloring), cinnamon sugar (in collaboration with Chamberlain Coffee), and birthday cake donuts topped with rainbow sprinkles. The original cookie dough, bolstered with reishi and vitamin D, still comes in chocolate chip, as well as limited edition grandma's oatmeal, cinnamon roll, birthday cake, gooey brownie, and space brownie. Deux now also makes what it refers to as drips, which you can use as a spread or sauce. The hazelnut cocoa flavor comes enhanced with aloe vera and vitamin C.

What's Next for Deux?

Deux is on track to continue its sky-high trajectory. The company expertly leverages the power of social media marketing with its consumer-specific content while utilizing the reach of paid influencers. The brand also gains followers and customers through collaborations and partnerships. You can expect to see ongoing releases of limited edition flavors, which drive sales and demand. Past limited flavors have included peppermint sugar cookie, s'mores, speculoos-inspired glitter cookie butter, and Texas sheet cake. The primary focus for the business, however, is scaling its reach and availability in retail stores. 

Sabeena Ladha was recognized in Inc Magazine's 2024 Female Founders 250 list specifically for the company's fast expansion into grocery stores. She was also included in 2023's Create & Cultivate 100 list for Women's History Month, which acknowledges female innovators. That same year, the brand also received its official Women Owned Certification from WBENC, a non-profit organization that advocates for women entrepreneurs.

Successful pop-up events in collaboration with Chamberlain Coffee, La La Land, and Pop Up Grocer may hint at another direction for the brand, perhaps even following in the footsteps of other "Shark Tank" cookie brand alumni, such as Doughp and The Cookie Dough Café, which have both opened brick-and-mortar locations. Future products from Deux are likely to include nutrition bars, as Ladha continues to straddle the line between the natural foods and desserts categories, hoping to disrupt and provide a challenge to established brands.