38-year-old Ehime Eigbe is the co-founder of Sweetkiwi, a Dallas-based food startup founded in 2011. She created the whipped, frozen Greek yogurt delicacy when she was searching for healthy dessert alternatives and stumbled upon the multi-million dollar idea.
Eigbe, who is originally from Nigeria, tells AMAKA she was diagnosed with uterine fibroid. “So, I was looking to eat healthier but struggled with the dessert part because I have a sweet tooth,” she noted. According to Ehime, this inspired her to start thinking of a creative way to have a good dessert without breaking her “nutritional bank.”
“I did a few tests with Greek yogurt and thought ‘okay, I can substitute the fat in ice cream for Greek yogurt and find ways to create this low-calorie, low-sugar product.’ That’s how this journey started.”
The startup, which was co-founded with her business partner and husband, is now in more than 2,000 retail stores across the country; including Whole Foods, Walmart, and Kroger, according to CNBC Make It. She also has three outlets in Nigeria, where the brand started as a catering business.
The success of the business saw her being shortlisted as a semi-finalist by the Black Ambition Prize, an initiative created by Pharrell Williams and Virgil Abloh to provide mentorship and funds for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.
She also won the 2020 Black Girl Ventures Washington D.C. Pitch Competition. Not only that, but her brand was also named one of Nigeria’s 100 most innovative companies in 2017 and 2018.
Eigbe recently appeared on Shark Tank to pitch her business to investors. The mother of two initially offered the Sharks 5% of her company for a $250,000 investment. According to her, she wanted to use the money for brand building and marketing. She added in her pitch that the money could also help Sweetkiwi escape its “breakeven cashflow” and work toward profitability.
Impressed by Eigbe and her husband, Shark Tank investor, Kevin O’Leary, initially offered them $250,000 for a 20% stake in the company, but later pulled out after they tried to entice other investors on the show.
Nonetheless, Robert Herjavec came through with an offer of $250,000 for 20% of Sweetkiwi. According to CNBC Made It, Eigbe and Akindele countered with $250,000 for a 7.1% stake, plus 5% in advisory shares.
Herjavec came with an improved final offer of $250,000 for a 16% stake in the company — including 5% in advisory shares, driving the company’s valuation past $2.4 million, Eigbe now says, —which Sweetkiwi accepted.