The dream began in January 2017 with two Crock-Pots and a stall named the Bang Shack at the Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood. On Sunday food entrepreneur Jason Hadley of Boca Raton and his “world famous chicken bang dip” hit the big time of the small screen with an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
The five sharks — as the star investor panelists are known — liked the dip. They loved Hadley’s infectious enthusiasm and outsize personality. But they were spooked that he didn’t have a commercial kitchen nor packaging and shipping mechanisms set up. So they didn’t bite on Hadley’s proposed deal — $80,000 for a 20 percent stake in the company.
“Congrats … great product,” billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on the show. “I’m a huge Jason fan, but I’m out.”
“You came here too early,” businessman Kevin O’Leary said. “You don’t have the infrastructure in place.”
Sharks Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and Daymond John also declined to invest.
But Hadley says he still feels like a winner. Since the episode aired on April 28, Hadley says he has been sifting through hundreds of emails with offers, tips and proposals to take his three varieties of dip — chicken, vegetarian with zucchini, and vegan with cashew cheese — national.
“Amazon reached out to us — I have a meeting set up today at 12,” Hadley wrote by text Tuesday morning. He also says he has been in touch with Whole Foods. For now, the Bang Shack products are available only at local farmers markets (Yellow Green in Hollywood and the Parkland farmers market, which just finished its season) and through limited local sales on his website.
The “Shark Tank” journey began last May when he and wife Claudia went to New York for an open casting call. The producers liked him and asked him to submit a pitch video. He made one with the help of a friend at Nova Southeastern University, and after getting a callback the Hadleys were flown to Los Angeles for taping in October 2018. Cuban and show producers told him to have a wider distribution network in place by the air date and that he would likely return next season.
Hadley says he has spent recent months trying to find a commercial packer to jar and ship his dips. He thought he had a deal with a facility in Maryland, but it fell through. Hadley says chicken dip is challenging to jar and ship because facilities that handle chicken products require USDA certification and inspections.
But Hadley is optimistic that good things will happen now that the show has aired.
“I know when it’s all over, this will be a big part of the journey,” Hadley says.
Hadley began making the “bang dip” for parties, picnics and cookouts when he lived in the Tampa area more than a decade ago. “You should sell that,” his friends told him. On the show, Hadley described the dip as a “”chicken-y, cheesy, saucy, spinach-y, scrumpdily-umptuous” concoction. I’ve tasted the chicken and zucchini dips in previous visits to the Yellow Green Farmers Market, and they’re creamy, spicy and tasty. The chicken and zucchini dips cost $7, the vegan dip $9.
“Ooh, it’s good — it’s got a little Buffalo [wing flavor] in the bang,” Greiner said after tasting the chicken dip on-air.
“Let’s you know you’re alive!” Hadley replied. “You could put this bang on anything! I put it on rice, pasta, vegetables, a burrito. I even put it on my omelets … There’s no question it’s popular. Now Sharks, you can help me get this bang dip in every door, every store — bring people together like never before!!!”
“He needs more energy,” Herjavec deadpanned.
Hadley says he gets his drive from his hardscrabble childhood in St. Petersburg, where his single mother struggled to raise a big family. He started mowing lawns at 10, became a father at 15 and then worked a variety of sales jobs. During the week, Hadley runs a Search Engine Optimization and marketing firm. “I get doctors and lawyers onto the first page of Google searches,” Hadley says. A patent lawyer has helped him copyright and patent the dips.
The dips have long been his passion. On “Shark Tank”, he said that he sold $53,000 worth in 2017 and increased sales to $88,000 in 2018, selling only at the Hollywood and Parkland farmers markets. The Bang Shack at the Yellow Green Farmers Market has expanded to several adjoining stalls using a dozen Crock-Pots.
Hadley says the show exaggerated one miscue — he didn’t have labels or prototype jars to show the Sharks, and they chided him for it. “It was a setup,” Hadley says. “I had them in another room but they weren’t brought out to the set.” He says the show wouldn’t halt taping so he could get them.
He figures that it’ll make for a better redemption story if he makes it onto the show again.
“I’ll be ready next time,” Hadley says.
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