Cropsticks entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 with sustainable chopsticks with a built-in rest made from bamboo in China. We interviewed founder and CEO Mylen Yamamoto about the invention, whose sales have already been half a million this year. A third of the world uses chopsticks, which amounts to 80 billion one-time-uses per year. When we spoke to her, they had only been on the market for three weeks, but she said, “We’re in negotiations with some pretty progressive retailers that are prioritizing sustainability.”
Here’s what else she told us about…
How the Idea Came About
I was on a flight to Asia in early 2015 when my chopsticks kept rolling off the tray table. I thought to myself that there just had a be a better way. With a lot of time to think on a long flight, the idea of Cropstick was born! Then after doing more research, I learned that 45 percent of disposable chopsticks are still made from trees. So I decided that Cropsticks needed to be sustainable above all else. We went with bamboo. Bamboo’s a crop, so we got Cropsticks.
A Relevant Meme & Kickstarter Campaign
For the record, we were working on the idea long before the meme went viral. So when a meme came out saying you could snap regular chopsticks like ours, I knew we had to launch right away as our idea was out in the world for all to see. Cropsticks was the real mind blowing chopstick hack. We couldn’t let the world get splinters. And it was a humbling and motivating experience to see people back the project.
How Her Appearance on the ‘Tank’ Came About
I was at the Inc GrowCo conference in Vegas where I met the casting directors. A Cropstick was in my conference badge when they asked me if I was interested in pitching. I didn’t feel ready at the time but knew I couldn’t let the opportunity slip away so I took the Cropsticks out of my badge and did a one-minute pitch. The rest is history.
Advice for Future ‘Tank’ Contestants
Prepare in ways that helped you get an A on a test. What I mean is, you do need to memorize a lot of your financials and to tell your story extemporaneously. So for me, I remember things best if I write them down. My husband and I made flash cards just as if I was preparing for a test. If you learn through visuals, then draw out your pitch. Or if you learn better orally, record yourself and keep listening to it back. Whichever way you prepare, know that this is your one shot, so give it your all. Have fun too cause the moment goes by fast.
Plans for the Future
Cropsticks is the first product of our umbrella company, Cropmade. Our mission is to leave behind a greener environment for future generations. So with our mission in mind, we are aiming to launch the first-ever chopstick recycling program in the nation where we recycle used chopsticks to create beautiful home decor like table tops and shelving. We definitely want Cropsticks to be the new chopstick standard but also help our customers become more eco conscious in the process.
Other Shark Tank products: