Creation Nation: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Finding a tasty snack that's convenient, healthy, and adapted to specific dietary requirements can seem all but impossible. For L.A.-based nutrition specialist Karen Nation, that frustration led to creating a range of gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO protein snack mixes in 2014 that are nutritious, affordable, and customizable.

Nation's range of no-bake protein bite and bar mixes — called Creation Nation — was born from her experience growing up in foster homes, where it was a challenge to find healthy options that were safe for her food allergies. The great thing about the dry mix pack is that you make it from home, like a regular baked good boxed mix, allowing an easy way to make personalized snacks. All it takes is adding a choice of liquid as well as a nut butter or syrup to a ready-prepared packet, shaping the product, and enjoying. As Nation explained, the choice of liquid and sweetener allows consumers to control their sugar intake. Plus, each DIY bar offers 12-16 grams of protein.

When a producer from "Shark Tank" spotted one of Creation Nation's ads on social media in March 2020, the founder began the long process of applying to be on the program. And despite a difficult period of pandemic-era lockdowns and quarantine, Nation secured a spot on the show, which originally aired in May 2021. Other health-focused snack brands, such as P-nuff Crunch, had secured deals previously on the show — so how would Creation Nation fare?

What happened to Creation Nation on Shark Tank?

Karen Nation appeared on Season 12 of "Shark Tank," seeking a $300,000 investment in return for a 12% stake in her company, Creation Nation. Up until that point, she had been predominantly selling products online. And while the snack mixes were available in some stores — including Whole Foods Market on the West Coast, Costco in the Midwest, and Walmart on the East Coast — the brand had not yet rolled out nationally. 

The Sharks were impressed by how easy it was to make the products at home, which just required mixing the chosen ingredients and forming the blend into balls or bars. In addition, the panel was favorable to the taste of the finished result and were also moved by Nation's personal story and determination. 

But, they were less impressed by the figures for the business. It cost Creation Nation $2 to $3.50 to make each product, which retailed for between $7 and $11. The business had overcome several problems, including issues with a previous co-packer, and pivoting to e-commerce during the pandemic (tripling sales in the process). 

Yet, while the business had made $500,000 in sales the previous year, it expected to do the same over the next year with no growth. When Shark Kevin O'Leary asked about the lack of profits, Nation admitted the company was pretty much breaking even on cash flow. Soon enough, the Sharks dropped out one by one, and Creation Nation left without a deal.

Creation Nation after Shark Tank

Worrying that Karen Nation might take the rejection badly, Shark Barbara Corcoran personally went backstage to speak to the company founder immediately after her appearance on the show, offering words of reassurance and encouragement. The Shark also showed her support on X (formerly Twitter) after the show aired, saying that the business owner was "smart, strong" and "going places." Kevin O'Leary was a little less kind, posting an image of Nation on X with the caption, "I appreciate the passion...but how do I make money!?"

Undeterred, Nation said she was determined to keep going with her business, despite her disappointment at not getting a Shark onboard. And Creation Nation certainly saw a boost immediately after the show aired, even without an investment.

Nation told Tasting Table that it took the company "a good week" to process all the orders from new customers, with "teams in four warehouse locations working on it." And thanks to the business' success in retaining a high proportion of customers and getting repeat orders, it looked like the increase in interest and sales would lead to a steady and sustained period of growth for the company.

Is Creation Nation still in business?

Creation Nation is still in business, and the publicity and accolades have only increased since it appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2021. The company's No Bake Energy Bite Mix was even featured as a winner in the Good Housekeeping Best Snack Awards 2023, in the Best Energy Bite Mix category. Karen Nation described the win on her business blog as "the biggest honor", since it resonated directly with her "core customer...moms" (per Creation Nation's blog).

The media coverage also extended to further TV exposure, as "Good Morning America" featured Creation Nation's Good Housekeeping win in September 2023. The no-bake bites were described on the show as a great option for after-school snacking, since they're fun and easy to make with kids.

It wasn't the first time the brand had appeared on the morning show, either. A year earlier, a mention on "GMA Deals & Steals with Tory Johnson" had created thousands of additional orders for Creation Nation. The company continues to sell direct-to-consumer via its own website as part of its business model, and the products are also available on Amazon as well as at Thrive Market.

What's next for Creation Nation?

While Creation Nation has seen a boost in its e-commerce side of the business, founder Karen Nation's ultimate aim when she appeared on "Shark Tank" was for the products to be sold in more grocery stores and outlets across the country. And the company has been making good progress in this area, which it hopes to expand on in the future.

In 2023, the brand secured a deal with the Sprouts Farmers Market chain to be sold in stores nationwide, and some of the products can be found in some branches of Whole Foods, as well as other selected retailers and markets. Creation Nation also took part in a Costco roadshow in early 2023, offering samples of the product and special offers in several branches, with the aim of the partnership becoming more permanent and widespread.

Creation Nation is also dedicated to promoting its brand on social media, which bodes well for its future growth. The company's Instagram has racked up over 11,400 followers, with regular updates suggesting recipe ideas using the products, such as ice cream-filled cookie bars, or boozy no-bake bourbon balls. And the product lines continue to expand, including adding no-bake cookies. With new opportunities for both product development as well as retail growth, Creation Nation could indeed be going places, just as Barbara Corcoran predicted.