Pili Hunters on ‘Shark Tank’: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Instagram Pili Hunters founder Jason Thomas (center)

Pili Hunters is a healthy snack business founded by Jason Thomas. He will be appearing on Shark Tank to pitch the business, in the hopes that an investor will help him with distribution and exposure.

Pili Hunters offer a snack known as the Pili nut, which comes from the Philippines and has no pesticides, additives or preservatives. They are a good source of magnesium and protein for vegan consumers. Read on to learn more about Thomas, his background, and how he plans to expand the Pili Hunters business moving forward.

Here’s what you need to know about Pili Hunters:

1. Pili Hunters Offers Healthy Nuts, Sauces & Various Butters

Pili Hunters has a number of different snack products. The most notable are Pili nuts, which are flavored with Himalayan salt and coconut oil, and are sold in bags ranging from 15g to 450 g. The latter sells for $44. Pili Hunters also offer a range of hot sauces and butters. Fermented Labuyo Chili Sauce is sold in bottles ranging from $1.99 to $10.99, while Golden Karma Butter and Expedition Pili Nut Butter sell for similar prices.

Each products offers notable health benefits. Because they all utilize Pili nuts, they are sustainably harvested from the wild. “You probably notice our product isn’t certified organic,” the website states. “That’s because our products are picked directly from the source. We don’t use organic pesticides, additives and absolutely zero preservatives. We’re 100% natural.”

The extensive use of Pili nuts also make their products all natural. They are 100% keto, paleo, vegan friendly, as well as gluten-free and non-GMO. They also include several other helpful nutrients like magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and copper.

2. Thomas Earned an Outdoor Studies Degree from Alaska Pacific University In 2002

Jason Thomas has spent his entire life working outdoors. He grew up in Barrow, Alaska, and spent most of his childhood learning how to hunt in the tundra and fish on the open seas. After high school, Thomas attended Alaska Pacific University, where he graduated with a degree in Outdoor Studies.

“I graduated with a degree in Outdoor Studies and I had a blast,” Thomas told the APU blog. “I learned so many skills that apply to business, and life. I loved every OS class I had… including the environmental aspect of the curriculum. Everyone should take an OS course – nothing but love for APU. Additionally, I used my degree to work as a mountain guide for 11 years. I was lucky enough to work all over the world, which gave me an appreciation for travel, new cultures, and adventure.”

Inspired to see what the rest of the world was like, Thomas spent the next decade traveling to counties like Hawaii, Europe, Morocco and Southeast Asia. He worked several different jobs during this time, including mountain guide, archaeologist assistant, commercial fisherman and kite surfing instructor.

3. Thomas Discovered the Pili Nut While He Was Kite Surfing In the Philippines

Thomas came across the Pili nut when he was working as a kite surfing instructor in the Philippines. “I was surprised that they had not yet been introduced to the U.S,” he told Paleo Epic. “In the Philippines, the Pili nuts are typically fried and sugar coated. I decided to put a healthy spin on this superfood nut by sprouting them.”

“Canarium Ovatum, commonly known as the Pili Tree (pronounced “peel-y”), is native to certain parts of Southeast Asia,” Thomas continued. “It is a gorgeous jungle tree that produces a green fruit that looks a bit like an avocado, inside is a shell, and finally a pili nut inside the shell. Pili nuts have a unique rich, buttery taste like a macadamia meets cashew.”

Thomas purchased 15 pounds of Pili nuts and returned to the U.S. with plans to start a business. He drove up and down the West Coast, sleeping in his truck, selling the nuts, and passing out samples at local natural food stores. “That’s how Hunter Gatherer Natural Foods was born,” he recalled. “I started the company from scratch with no outside funding. I don’t believe in trickery or BS marketing, just hard work, and a good product.”

4. Pili Hunters Offer the Only Ethically Sourced Pili Nuts on the Market

Thomas discussed his business with the APU Blog, and how he is compelled to keep hold of its integrity. “I worked my butt off selling to stores. I also went to Paleo, and Keto food shows to introduce the product,” he explained. “A few companies have already copied us. We’ve expanded our product line, but because of the market competition, I have to come up with new products continuously to stay ahead. We have some exciting new stuff coming out soon including various kinds of butter!”

Thomas also says that Pili Hunters are unique when compared to the rest of the snack market. “We’re the only ethically sourced Pili nuts on the market,” he revealed to Bend Source. “We’re seeing a big push of companies trying to do ‘organic’ over there – but you don’t have to. They [the locals] are not spraying pesticides on that tree. They are not fertilizing that tree. It’s the rich volcanic soil.”

Despite his success, Thomas maintains that Pili Hunters are meant to help people, and not cause any professional rivalries along the way. “I just feel like we can do it in a decent way, without f*cking everybody along the way,” he reasoned. “I have an amazing opportunity to do something right.”

5. Thomas Wants a ‘Shark’ to Help Him Expand Pili Hunters Distribution

Pili Hunters are available through a myriad of different ways. They are being sold at over 150 Walmart locations, but the easiest way for people to get their hands on them is to order online. They can be ordered online through http://www.eatpilinuts.com or Amazon. That said, Thomas is eager to expand his distribution, and hopes that a Shark Tank investor will be able to help him.

That said, Thomas told Bend Source that being environmentally friendly is a must. “I’m trying to do the opposite of what everybody else is doing,” he explained. “We’re so wasteful in this country. I’m trying to keep a business going with my mentality. I think if we stay true, hopefully the stars will align. And if they don’t, I can still look in the mirror.”