For so many entrepreneurs, Shark Tank is the place where their dreams go to die. The notoriously tough panel of high-rollers don’t just throw their money at any business. You’ve got to come into the tank with your numbers right and your ideas tight. So when three friends from D.C. were able to convince Mark Cuban to buy into their plant-based meat brand, they knew they had something special.
Plant-based foods are making huge gains. According to a report from Bloomberg Intelligence, the plant-based food market could be worth more than $162 billion in 2030, up from $29.4 billion in 2020. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have achieved mass-market success and secured partnerships with restaurants and major retailers.
Part of the popularity is due to research that points to the health benefits of a plant-based diet, particularly for people of color. According to research from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, a healthy plant-based diet may contribute to slowing the rate of cognitive decline in older Black adults. And a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has found a connection between a plant-based diet and a lower risk for stroke, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. This information has encouraged more and more Black people to consider cutting back the amount of meat they consume or eliminating it from their diet completely.
Everything Legendary was founded by D.C. area friends Duane “Myko” Cheers, Danita Claytor, and Jumoke Jackson. The trio has always been passionate about healthy eating, but it was their mothers who inspired these entrepreneurs to get into the plant-based food game for themselves. Cheers’ mother is a vegan living with lupus, and Claytor’s mother was battling cancer. The two say they wanted to help their moms find healthy food that tasted good. So they started making their plant-based burgers by hand, using a recipe developed by Jackson, who is a chef. They were able to recreate the texture of meat without using artificial preservatives, GMOs or soy and create a healthy meat alternative that didn’t compromise on taste.
“Everything Legendary is a purpose driven company and it started after my mother passed away from stage 4 cancer in 2019,” said Danita Claytor. “I knew it was destined for me to help others since I couldn’t save my mom. To see my family change their eating habits has been very rewarding and I finally understood that this is part of my purpose. We are disrupting the market and changing lives, one family at a time!”
The team was proud of what they had accomplished, but things got even more interesting when they pitched their burger on the hit show Shark Tank in February 2021. Their presentation convinced billionaire Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban to invest $300,000 for a 22 percent stake in the company. Cuban, who is a vegetarian, has also invested in other plant-based food brands, including Wild Earth and Veggie Mama. After their episode aired, Everything Legendary sold $250,000 worth of product within 24 hours.
The team says it was gratifying to receive positive feedback from the Sharks. “All the Sharks agreed it was the best-tasting plant-based burger they’d ever tried,” Cheers said. He adds that Mark Cuban’s investment has been a “game-changer” for their business, allowing them to increase production and expand their distribution. Today, Everything Legendary burgers and plant-based ground “meat” can be found in Publix, Safeway, Target and other major retailers across the country.
“My Everything Legendary journey has been amazing, and I no longer look at eating plant-based foods as being on a diet. It’s not a diet for us, it’s a lifestyle! I challenge everyone reading this to start incorporating a plant-based diet into your daily routine and think about choosing healthier alternatives,” Claytor said.