Off the Cob from Shark Tank

Off the Cob shark tank

Launching a new tortilla chip brand in a highly competitive multi-billion dollar conglomerate seems impossible. Not only are the stakes high, but there are practically all kinds of tortilla chips in the market imaginable. However, Cameron Sheldrake leaped with his Off the Cob tortilla chips.

Off the Cob, tortilla chips included six ingredients: sweet corn (the star ingredient), certified and organic GMO-free yellow corn and white corn, cane sugar, sea salt, and sunflower oil. The reason why Cameron placed his dibs on this product was that he believed that his product was not the same as the ones in the market already.

His biggest USP was that Off the Cob was made with sweet corn. Most of the tortilla chips in the market are made from grain corn with a starchy flavor and complex, dry kernels. On the other hand, sweet corn is loved by people and enjoyed for its light taste. Hence, in the history of America, this was the first time that tortilla chips were made from sweet corn instead of grain corn.

Besides this, another unique selling point of this product was that the corns were sourced from small farms in the American Midwest. The flavor was reminiscent rather than starchy or bland because they were made from sweet, ripe corn. The chips were sweeter, healthier, and lighter than most processed tortilla chips on the market. Cameron also mentioned that his chips were healthier because they were non-GMO, sodium, cholesterol, and trans-fat-free.

Cameron ventured into this business for multiple reasons. Firstly he grew up in Ithaca on his family’s farm, where he developed his interest in organic food. Later after graduating from Babson College, Cameron dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. So, when he got the idea of sweet corn tortilla chips, he quickly jumped on the bandwagon to pursue his dream of becoming a food entrepreneur.

Luckily, his venture seemed promising as he was able to raise more than $15,000 from the Kickstarter effort. He used these funds to produce the first Off the Cob chips pallets. However, he needed more funds to propel his business, so he decided to go to the Shark Tank.

How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?

Cameron went to the show to seek an investment of $100,000 for equity of 15 percent in his business. He was indeed prepared to lure the sharks. He distributed samples of Off the Cob tortilla chips to give them a taste of his new product. He further developed the idea by discussing the difference between sweet and grain corn.

The sharks were initially excited about the product, primarily because it was made of sweet corn and its packaging and name. However, the conflict occurred when Cameron talked about the price. Grain corn costs were lower than sweet corn, and the price disparity was evident and massive.

Cameron claimed that the bags of Off the Cob tortilla chips were cheap to produce. He added that the margin made from sales to the distributor was substantial. However, he couldn’t persuade the Sharks to make an offer, and eventually, there was no deal between them. The sharks believed the product was good, but it was not scalable. They also thought it was too pricey and the process had many complexities.

The sharks believed that it was very difficult for Cameron to get the shelf space which the big players in his industry already dominated. Next, the competition was massive. It was extremely difficult for Cameron’s product to penetrate through the aggressive competition and make its mark. Therefore, none of the sharks seemed interested in his pitch.

Are They Still an Active Company?

No. The company is unfortunately not in business. Though Cameron managed to partner with Whole Foods (the big retailer) to sell his chips, which were also available on Amazon, the sales were unsatisfactory. Eventually, Off the Cob operations were ceased, and the company was declared inexistent in 2021.

Our Review of Off the Cob

After trying Off the Cob tortilla chips and reading customer reviews, the product seemed promising. The taste of Off the Corn chips was delectable. The chips felt very light in texture, and the sweet corn gave tortilla chips a new flavor and punch. However, we believe factors like pricing, distribution, cost of production, and marketing were the top reasons Off the Cob couldn’t make it far and eventually had to cease production. Cameron should have worked on all these factors to make his pitch more convincing to the sharks so that he could have closed a successful deal.

Pros of Off the Cob

  1. Made of sweet corn
  2. Healthy (No GMO, gluten, and trans-fat free)
  3. Delicious

Cons of Off the Cob

  1. Pricey
  2. High cost of production
  3. Poor marketing

Who Is Off the Cob for?

The product was for:

  1. Everyone who loves sweet corn
  2. Everyone who loves tortilla chips
  3. Those who want to try something new
  4. Those who want to eat a healthy diet but they can’t give up on chips

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are already multiple sweet corn products on the market and a variety of tortilla chips. But there is still no alternative to sweet corn tortilla chips. So, Off the Cob was definitely one of its kind and a healthy alternative.

Our Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we’d say that Cameron’s idea of introducing Off the Cob sweet corn tortilla chips was promising, but he should have been more persuasive and compelling in his pitch to the sharks. He should have invested more time in preparing his proposal, which would have helped him come out strong.

People love chips, and what better way to attract this audience than by giving them the option to eat delectable yet healthy chips. So, we think the idea was good, but Cameron needed to put some more effort into pitching and marketing the product. Had he laser-focused on his product pricing, selling, and production, he wouldn’t be out of business now.