Boarderie After Shark Tank: We Caught Up With The Founder

Aaron and Julie Menitoff were successfully running a catering business in Florida when the pandemic struck, prompting them to pivot their business model. They began delivering charcuterie boards, catering to the needs and desires of people during lockdowns. During this period of transformation, Rachel Solomon and Angel Jerez joined the team.

In 2021, Boarderie set out into the world to ship fresh, beautifully arranged charcuterie boards to customers, albeit through third-party sites initially. Recognizing the need for direct sales, Boarderie launched a website. A few months after the website went live, Solomon and Aaron Menitoff pitched on "Shark Tank." Their thorough preparation and compelling presentation earned them an offer from Lori Greiner, propelling the company to impressive sales. The Sharks were particularly taken with the quality of the product, its presentation, and Solomon and Menitoff's relentless drive and determination. We were excited to sit down with Solomon to delve deeper into one of our favorite Shark Tank Thanksgiving products and the company's journey before, during, and after "Shark Tank."

Getting denied initially was a blessing

For budding companies, appearing on "Shark Tank" can be a game-changer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Boarderie's founders set their sights on appearing before the sharks right from the start. They applied in their first year but, as with many businesses, were turned down. Solomon now reflects that being rejected initially was a blessing in disguise. At the time of their first application, the company had barely started, and had they been featured on the show, they wouldn't have been able to meet the surge in demand that "Shark Tank" typically generates. Not to mention, in the beginning, they were not selling through their own website, and this alone would have impacted the company significantly.

This insight comes with the benefit of hindsight and the experience of struggling to meet customer demand after the episode aired. Fortunately, when they applied again the following year, they were selected for the show. Solomon admits to being surprised at how quickly their episode was filmed and broadcast.

Solomon and Menitoff prepped extensively

Any company that has succeeded on "Shark Tank" will tell you that preparation is key to a good performance in the tank. For Solomon and Menitoff, the process was no exception. Solomon details that as they watched every episode of "Shark Tank," she meticulously wrote down every question that might relate to their business. Additionally, they thoroughly reviewed all conceivable numbers, prices, and figures. She knew their product costs down to the ounce, which gave them a significant advantage.

When they finally stepped into the tank, their preparation paid off, making the experience enjoyable. They opened their pitch with a humorous skit, which Solomon says they practiced repeatedly. During their prep time, they dedicated countless hours to ensuring that every aspect of their presentation was as polished as possible. Solomon reminds potential "Shark Tank" companies of the future that this preparation is key, but no matter how much you prepare, you will always be the best and most knowledgeable person to share your company with the sharks.

The sharks were very kind

Menitoff and Solomon's thorough preparation, palpable enthusiasm for their company, and the obvious quality of their product led to a surprisingly warm reception from the Sharks. Solomon acknowledges that "[Mark] was really hard on us," but they did not perceive the Sharks to be overly aggressive as a whole. Mark Cuban was most concerned about the replicability of the company, but even with these concerns and contrary to the experiences of many business owners describing "Shark Tank" as intense and sometimes confrontational, Menitoff and Solomon encountered a different atmosphere.

That said, it still feels rather intense because the pitch represents a whole lot of opportunity for the business, and Solomon admits, "I like that kind of pressure." This mindset transformed the challenge into an enjoyable and less daunting experience or every scary opportunity. Menitoff and Solomon's confidence and determination to engage with each Shark were evident throughout their pitch.

These boards are tough to replicate

On Boarderie's "Shark Tank" episode, we see Mark Cuban express concern that the company is easy to replicate, and we do not see Menitoff and Solomon's response. However, on the day of the full pitch, the duo spent quite a little while discussing this with the Sharks. Cuban's concerns are valid since it's not a patented product, but according to Solomon, Boarderie's "production process is so complicated and so specific, and the entry point of investment it takes to build the level of facility we have is so high that in and of itself weeds a lot of people out." She makes the point that where the company is now would be difficult to attain, but in the beginning, it may have been a little easier.

Even still, she emphasized that their product is not merely an assortment of cut cheese and sausage; each item is meticulously prepared and assembled. Additionally, the company prides itself on offering unique nut flavors and a variety of distinctive cheese options that are very difficult to find elsewhere.

Mark Cuban helped the duo close a deal with Lori Greiner

Boarderie received offers from four of the five Sharks, but they decided to partner with Lori Greiner. The negotiation process to reach the deal was somewhat complex. Greiner originally offered $300,000 for a 13% stake in the company, but Menitoff and Solomon hesitated to relinquish that much equity. They attempted to negotiate for a lower equity percentage, but Greiner seemed reluctant to budge. Then, Cuban, who had initially backed out, re-entered with an offer of $300,000 for 10%, prompting Greiner to reconsider and ultimately reduce her ask to 9%. Although Cuban hasn't taken advantage of any free boards he claimed he was owed, his intervention was instrumental in helping Solomon and Menitoff secure a deal they were comfortable with.

Having Greiner as a partner has been highly beneficial for Boarderie. A testament to Greiner's commitment to the company is the speed with which their deal was finalized. Unlike some businesses that leave the tank with an offer that fails to materialize, Boarderie and Greiner quickly ironed out the details and logistics, solidifying their partnership efficiently.

Boarderie saw a massive increase in sales

Companies that appear on "Shark Tank" often experience an incredible influx of sales, regardless of the pitch's outcome. Boarderie is a shining example. Although the company had accrued over a million dollars in sales in 2022 before their pitch, the weeks following the episode's airing saw them hitting the $1 million mark in sales per week, according to Solomon. This surge resulted in them having to suspend orders over the Christmas holiday. Despite their best efforts to procure cheese to fulfill orders, they needed help to keep up with the overwhelming demand.

It's a positive yet daunting situation for a business to find itself in. Solomon expressed their commitment to meeting customer needs even in difficult situations, saying, "We hate to say no," so they went to extraordinary lengths, including deploying refrigerator trucks to pick up specialty cheeses. Solomon reflected on the support they received: "The amount of specialty cheese producers who did us major favors last December is unbelievable." In the end, they simply ran out of product and had to pause ordering, having exhausted every solution to avoid a stoppage.

The boards are even better today

Lori Greiner, a cheese aficionado herself, has played a pivotal role in enhancing Boarderie's offerings by introducing new cheeses for their boards. Coupled with customer feedback, these gourmet assortments have improved over time. At the time of the "Shark Tank" pitch, Boarderie had small, medium, and large options available. Since then, its selection has expanded to include a variety of themed boards.

Boarderie now features special editions for seasonal celebrations, like the Fallcuterie Board for autumn festivities and even holiday-specific assortments. They also cater to different preferences with boards that include cheese and its accompaniments or ones without any meat. Among the new additions is a baked brie board, which has gained notable recognition, being featured on Oprah's Favorite Things for the last two years. This particular board comes with four delectable pairings, such as chocolate, espresso, and raspberry, as well as more savory options like raspberry, sun-dried tomato, and olive.

Boarderie is in the world records

Boarderie has just achieved a milestone by setting a Guinness World Record for the largest charcuterie board. This colossal board weighed 769 pounds and measured an impressive 20 feet by 14 feet. It was fully adorned with an array of cheeses, meats, crackers, nuts, fruits, chocolates, spreads, olives, and many other items that the company features on its boards sold online. Solomon expressed that the company is committed to philanthropy, demonstrated by this achievement; all items from the record-setting board were donated to a non-profit organization called The Lord's Place, helping to provide meals for those in need.

This board was on display at an event in Pam Beach, Florida, and it is a fabulous representation of the incredible growth Boarderie has experienced. With the timing of the world record, it's an ideal moment to display Boarderie and its offerings, especially considering this was just an enlarged version of the popular Arte board.

Plenty of new products are on the horizon

The company's journey since its debut on "Shark Tank" has been marked by growth and evolution, and the vision for its future is impressive. Solomon expressed that the team is diligently researching and evaluating emerging trends and customer preferences for new products like dessert boards to add a sweet dimension to Boarderie's offerings.

In response to a growing demand for inclusive dining options, the company is not only venturing into dessert boards but is also actively developing vegan and gluten-free varieties. These additions aim to diversify the product line, ensuring that individuals with specific dietary needs or preferences are accommodated. This approach signifies the company's commitment to evolving with its customer base and the market at large. The roadmap ahead for this charcuterie board company is about creating a space where everyone, irrespective of their dietary choices — be it meat, cheese, or allergen-free options — can find something that suits their dietary preferences or needs.