What do you do if you love the texture of crunchy pork rinds, but you’re not allowed to eat them?
This was the dilemma faced by Samy Kobrosly, a former DJ and radio personality from Washington DC with not a little entrepreneurial flair.
Due to his Muslim upbringing pork was strictly off the menu, but he joked among friends that he would produce a vegan alternative that would mimic the consistency of pork rind, providing all the taste and crunchiness but devoid of anything which was actually meat. His friends didn’t see the funny side, it sounded to them like an excellent idea and, once Samy had been persuaded, the Snacklin was born.
The product itself involves yuca, mushrooms, onions and sauce or soy-ginger, all cooked in sunflower oil. It offers a gluten-free, dairy-free, non-genetically modified snack which, at fewer than ninety calories per packet, invites the purchaser to “Go Ahead, Eat the Whole Bag!”.
At the time of his appearance on Shark Tank in 2019 Samy was already selling his product through over 1,000 stores, in spite of him being in competition with some huge industry brands.
Indeed, his worry that some of the bigger names might be tempted to hijack his idea was one consideration behind his decision to look for investment to expand. During his presentation he passed around samples which were enjoyed by all of the investors, but some had concerns about his business plan.
Thankfully Mark Cuban wasn’t one of them. He met Samy’s request for $250,000 in return for 5% equity in his company, although with the added proviso of 5% advisory shares, convertible over three years.
At a Glance
Samy Kobrosly appeared on Shark Tank looking for a strategic partner. He wanted to raise the profile of his product and of his company, to help him to stand up against bigger names in the industry. Initially, he sought $250,000 of investment in exchange for a 2.5% share in the business.
Alone amongst the Sharks, Mark Cuban expressed an interest. But rather than meet Samy’s valuation he wanted a 5% share, plus 5% advisory shares. He had heard, and Samy had confirmed, that he only owned 30% of Snacklins, with employees, family members and angel investors holding much of the remainder.
As his main objective was to raise the profile of his business, Samy readily agreed and the deal was sealed.
Who is the Founder?
Before launching into his sweet snacks venture Samy Kobrosly was an entertainer, a radio presenter and a disc jockey. He also has a work background in bars and restaurants.
Hailing from the Washington DC area, it was a chance conversation with a friend who is a chef which led him to joke about producing a crunchy snack which had the look and feel of pork rind without actually being pork rind, which to him was off limits.
His first sales were made through some typical mid-Atlantic health food shops. Through endeavor and persistence, he managed to increase the number of outlets selling his snacks to over 1,000.
Eventually, he achieved the Holy Grail of having his produce distributed by Amazon and Walmart. Following the principle that the only way is up, his logical next step was a pitch to some established investors with a view to moving things up another notch.
Did Snacklins Get a Deal on the Show?
The pitch was that Snacklins would offer 2.5% equity in return for $250,000 in investment.
The one who really showed an interest was Mark Cuban, who was sympathetic when he learned that Samy did not have 100% ownership of the business himself.
But he felt the promised return was inadequate, and offered instead the requested sum for 5% equity, plus 5% in advisory shares.
Samy reflected upon the offer for a short while, but decided to accept it.
After all, his primary objective had been to raise the profile of his company and of his product, and his appearance on Shark Tank had achieved just that.
What Happened to the Entrepreneur After the Show?
Essentially what was already proving to be a successful business grew further in popularity, and Samy was able to take on the giants and expand into new markets.
He rebranded his product, established a better online presence and introduced new flavors to his already impressive range. He even managed to acquire some celebrity endorsements.
As of 2021 the company has an estimated net worth in the region of $15 million.
The investor Mark Cuban is still working with Samy and his team, and there was a second appearance on Shark Tank for what was in fact a progress update.
About the Product
Snacklins is a delicious crunchy snack with the look, feel and consistency of pork rind but it is in fact 100% vegan. It is dairy free, glucose free, low fat, low sugar and entirely non-GM.
Plus, it has the added benefit of containing only around 90 calories per pack. No wonder we are implored to eat the whole bag.
The food is available in an impressive range of exciting flavors. As well as sea salt and vinegar there is nacho, barbecue, teriyaki, cinnamon churro, and Chesapeake bay (a much-loved mid-Atlantic flavoring).
Despite going up against some of the biggest industry names Snacklins has held its own surprisingly well, and has built up a strong and loyal following of its own. It is available from Amazon, Walmart, countless independent stores and of course from the company website itself.
What makes the product so delicious is the crafted blend of mushrooms, yuca and onions, all fashioned together to create a thoroughly unique food experience. It is the closest thing to savory pork crackling, only without the pork.
The biggest compliment perhaps is the fact that all the Sharks were impressed by the flavorsome offerings, if not all of them by the sales pitch. Luckily Samy did manage to secure the deal that his efforts so thoroughly deserved.
Some Interesting Facts
Snacklins’ social media presence includes an Instagram account, which boasts over 17,500 followers and is blue check verified. The company’s online marketing portfolio includes a video of Mark Cuban promoting the chips.
A large multipack of Snacklins, containing six individual bags, retails at $14.99. There are a number of different sizes available, including family size packs.
One of the things that most impressed Mark with the sales pitch is that Samy had kept the manufacture of his product in-house, as opposed to contracting it out. He remarked that this reminded him of another, similar venture that he was involved in – Alyssa’s Cookies.
The primary ingredient used in the manufacture of the chips is yuca, a South American root plant also sometimes called cassava. Although not universally familiar in more northern climes, it is in fact the third largest source of food carbohydrates, after rice and maize, in the tropics, and is a staple food in the developing world.
Whilst Snacklins to some degree mimic the texture of real pork rind, they enjoy the benefit of not containing anything like as much fat. Whilst pork is a source of protein, it is also considered a fatty meat and would contain many times the amount of calories as does the vegan product.