Mighty Carver After Shark Tank: We Caught Up With The Founders

Whether you're carving into a Thanksgiving turkey or a loaf of Tofurkey for your holiday meal, the right cutting instrument can make a huge difference. Some swear by knife sharpeners to get perfect cuts of protein, while others prefer to use electric blades. But what if you could liven up the main event with a chainsaw instead?

Thanks to Kim Burney, the cutting-edge inventor of Mighty Carver, you can do just that. Bridging the gap between power tools and electric knives, Burney developed the world's first culinary chainsaw for home chefs. The innovative entrepreneur, along with her husband and co-owner, Lance Burney, brought Mighty Carver to "Shark Tank" during Season 12 to the delight of the sharks.

Needless to say, several sharks were chomping at the bit to get a piece of Mighty Carver's business. Despite the initial interest from Kevin O'Leary, also known as "Chef Wonderful," the pair went with Daymond John's attractive offer of 25% and $100,000. After their episode's big debut, countless viewers sought out Mighty Carvers of their very own — though there were a few hiccups along the way for the budding business. Tasting Table recently spoke to Kim and Lance Burney to hear more about their "Shark Tank" experience and Mighty Carver's growth since appearing on the show.

A lightbulb moment led to the creation of Mighty Carver

For many Americans, carving turkey is not a role to be taken lightly. The turkey carver typically sits at the head of the table, and there's a special type of prestige associated with the task. The Burney family's grandfather was the designated turkey carver for years. But after he passed away, Kim Burney was surprised to find few willing volunteers to take on the position during their first Thanksgiving without him. "Nobody was really interested or hyped up or excited about it at all," Kim tells Tasting Table.

Inspired by the family tree farm's tools, the Burneys came up with the idea of a rugged tool to entice her table mates to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. "I thought, 'Well, if that was a chainsaw, they'd all be fighting over it. Right?' So that's how I came up with it," Kim recalls. This vision led her to create what would later become known as the Mighty Carver, a compact, chainsaw-shaped electric knife with dual stainless steel blades. It would carve turkey with ease, and its playful design would be sure to capture the interest of even the most reluctant relatives. Shortly after Kim's epiphany, it became clear that the Mighty Carver concept had major appeal.

To test the waters, Mighty Carver started small

Some startup entrepreneurs dive headfirst into new projects without doing their research, but Kim and Lance Burney knew they wanted to take things slow and steady. Before they researched manufacturing options, the couple decided to ask friends and family members what they thought about the idea. And though Mighty Carver drummed up plenty of interest from prospective customers, the entrepreneurs decided to produce a limited run of units to start with. "We thought, 'Hey, this might be a good idea. But it really wasn't a for sure thing," Kim says. "So then we thought, 'Well, let's just try the first 1,000.'"

From there, it was smooth sailing for Mighty Carver. "Manufacturing is really in our wheelhouse — we do that with our other business. It wasn't hard to get things started in that direction," says Kim Burney. "We got the drawings done pretty fairly quickly with our mechanical engineer, and our neighbor was a patent attorney." To top it off, a marketing company offered to help with branding before the project really got off the ground. Kim tells Tasting Table that the colors and designs were decided on prior to manufacturing the first prototype, which is a bit backward from how the process normally goes.

Shark Tank wasn't on their radar until a fateful phone call

Appearing on "Shark Tank" is a dream shared by many small business owners, yet Kim Burney may be the exception to the rule. Kim admits that before producers contacted her, she had never even watched "Shark Tank." While she was encouraged to apply, Lance says he had to nudge her to accept. "She was hesitant to sign up, and I'm kicking her under the table saying, 'This is for real — it's "Shark Tank," I've vetted it!'" he remembers. 

It may have taken her a while to warm up to the idea of appearing on the show, but she eventually chose to give it a go. "My husband said, 'You know, Kim, at the end of the day, if you believe in your product and you want to show the world what you've got, what do you have to lose?'" It was then, she tells Tasting Table, that she decided to give it a go. The duo submitted their application, and it wasn't long before the show's producers called back with good news: Mighty Carver was accepted, and the pair would soon film their pitch in the Shark Tank. 

Mighty Carver's Shark Tank journey differed from the norm

2020 was a difficult time for many industries, and the production of "Shark Tank" wasn't left unscathed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic at its peak. Kim Burney recalls being unsure about how the process would go, telling Tasting Table that "Shark Tank" producers, who normally filmed in Los Angeles, were considering coming directly to the entrepreneurs themselves. 

Ultimately, the team decided to film in Las Vegas in August of that year. At the time, Burney recalls, flying during a pandemic felt slightly intimidating, but the couple carried on with their plans nevertheless.

While there were COVID-19 safety regulations in place during filming, some of them proved to be advantageous for the Mighty Carver team. "We spent 10 days in isolation in Las Vegas at the Venetian, which I can say was not a bad place to be locked up. Three nice meals a day," she says with a laugh. But more importantly, the pair used their time in isolation wisely, studying every episode of "Shark Tank" in preparation for their own upcoming pitch. "All we did was think about Mighty Carver and rehearse. For us, it was kind of a blessing." 

The Sharks went wild for Mighty Carver

Given the overwhelming interest in Mighty Carver from early adopters and customers, it comes as no surprise that the Sharks were equally as enamored with Kim Burney's invention. Several Sharks expressed interest in partnering with the company, and Kevin O'Leary was the first to pose an offer of $100,000 at 33.33% equity. Ultimately, however, Daymond John successfully nabbed a deal with Mighty Carver's owners when he presented them with a respectable offer of $100,000 for 25%.

Looking back on the fateful moments before they accepted the deal, Lance shares a behind-the-scenes moment that unfolded during filming. "I previously made a deal [with Kim] that before we made a decision, we were going to look at each other eye to eye and wink, nod, or smile," he tells Tasting Table. But when the countdown began to choose an offer from the Sharks, he backed out of their secret agreement, leaving Kim to take the reigns. "I asked him later, 'Well, why did you do that?'" Kim says. 

Lance's response? "'Because I have to live the rest of my life with you!" Mighty Carver, adds Lance, was always Kim's brainchild, and he wanted to give her full autonomy to make the final decision.

Despite 'a little glitch,' Mighty Carver soon enjoyed the Shark Tank effect

As small business owners know, things don't always go according to plan, no matter how much preparation is involved beforehand. Unfortunately for Mighty Carver's founders, their "Shark Tank" episode happened to air on an election night. "We got bumped," Kim Burney says. "[The show] was usually supposed to be on at 8:00 p.m. We had a big party of people waiting. And it was 10:00 p.m. when it aired." To add insult to injury, viewers who taped the show on their DVRs missed out on Mighty Carver's "Shark Tank" appearance, catching recordings of the evening news in its place. 

Nonetheless, the technical glitch had minimal effects on sales following the premiere, and business boomed in the wake of the "Shark Tank" appearance. From customers to clients, Mighty Carver enjoyed the glow of the "Shark Tank" effect. "People recognize you; they know the product. Retailers were all on board to get a slice. It was a win-win situation," states Burney. 

Since the episode aired in August, the couple felt fortunate that they'd placed a huge manufacturing order ahead of what would surely be a Thanksgiving rush — but little did they know, trouble was just around the corner for Mighty Carver.

Daymond has supported Mighty Carver through thick and thin

Shortly after the show, the Mighty Carver team was faced with a nightmarish dilemma. "We made a huge [manufacturing] order with a big cash deposit. And then we found out a month after we aired that this man took off with our money and never made our order," Kim Burney tells Tasting Table. Needless to say, both Kim and Lance were horrified by the situation — and weren't looking forward to breaking the news to their newest business partner, Daymond John.

But to the Burneys' relief, John stuck by the couple and provided his unwavering support throughout the ordeal. "The phone call I had to make to Daymond was, 'You might you might not want to be my partner,'" Kim remembers. But to the surprise of the entrepreneur, John responded by saying, "This happens in business. You've learned a lesson. And the good news is, I want to be your partner."

To Burney, John more than lives up to his stellar reputation as "The People's Shark," frequently checking in on the Burneys and offering to help with anything they might need. With the help of John, Mighty Carver has become one of the most beloved "Shark Tank" kitchen gadgets in the show's history.

The company has had continued success since Shark Tank

"Shark Tank" alumni experience varying degrees of success following their appearance on the show, but Mighty Carver has made several strides well after its air date. Not only have Kim and Lance Burney come out strong in the face of trials and tribulations, but they've also expanded the business exponentially since their "Shark Tank" days — even earning another top spot in a pitching competition with Mighty Carver. "We won the 'Into the Blue: Product Pitch Event' at Lowe's," beams Kim Burney. By her estimate, Mighty Carver will be available for purchase in Lowe's stores soon.

Aside from the company's recent win with Lowe's, Mighty Carver has made a few more television appearances since its "Shark Tank" segment. "We were featured on 'The View' for Father's Day this past June," says Lance Burney. Additionally, Mighty Carver made the leap to HSN, where Lance demonstrated the device to watchful viewers.

Advice from Mighty Carver's creators for fellow entrepreneurs

Considering their impressive trajectory with Mighty Carver, we asked Kim and Lance Burney if they had any words of wisdom for up-and-coming business owners. More than anything, Kim Burney says, never doubt yourself. "I call myself the accidental entrepreneur," Kim Burney tells Tasting Table. "My husband, he's more of a businessman. But listen, if it can happen to us, it can happen to you." 

Burney also stresses the importance of a positive outlook when it comes to doing business, adding that perseverance is a crucial part of the recipe for success. On top of that, Kim wants others to know that it's never too late to start chasing your dreams. 

"When I went on 'Shark Tank,' I was 57 years old," she says. As for Lance, the Mighty Carver co-owner is quick to support his wife's perspective. "Don't listen to the negativity. Get rid of all the white noises around you. If you believe in what you're doing, you'll find a way to get it done," he states.

What's next for Mighty Carver

In addition to the Mighty Carver being named one of the best "Shark Tank" products for your Thanksgiving, there's more exciting news on the horizon for the company. The Mighty Carver founders can't disclose all of the juicy details just yet, but they're willing to give fans a hint. "We have a new product coming out. And I think it's exciting. We listened to our customers, and this is what they wanted," hints Kim Burney. According to the Burneys, they're often wowed by what Mighty Carver users come up with using their creations on social media. 

Overall, things seem to have come full circle for Mighty Carver. Not only are the turkey carvers more enthusiastic about cutting into the Thanksgiving bird each year but there's another family tradition at play. "We have a pumpkin carving contest every year," says Kim. "Everybody gets their own Mighty Carver, and it's really nice and easy to cut your pumpkin." If you'd like to try your hand at carving jack-o-lanterns this way, Mighty Carver will roll out its original device in Lowe's stores across the country soon, though you can purchase one online now through the Mighty Carver storefront.