- Company: Back 9 Dips
- Owners: David and Dominique “Nique” Mealey
- Asking Price: $150,000 for 15% equity
- Final Deal: $150,000 for 25% equity
- Sharks Who Took The Bait: Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner
- Season/Episode: Season 4, Episode 4
Back 9 Dips Before Shark Tank
David and Dominique “Nique” Mealey are a married couple from Tampa, Florida. They have a three-year-old son and a baby daughter on the way.
Back when Nique was pregnant with their first child, the economy tanked and David lost his job working as a Callaway sales rep and a PGA teaching pro for a local golf club. Realizing they needed to make an income, David started a BBQ catering company. He loved to cook and had considered becoming a chef earlier on in his career. The company became a success, and David even emailed radio shock jock, Bubba the Love Sponge, and asked if he could bring some of this BBQ to the station. Bubba and David had an instant connection and Bubba promoted David’s company whenever and however he could.
Even though the business as a whole was doing well, there was one dish that was everyone’s favorite. It was so popular that David and Nique knew it would be a hit if they brought it to market and sold it separately. They were coming to the Shark Tank because they needed a shark’s help to bring their product to the masses.
Back 9 Dips On Shark Tank
David and Nique walked into the tank and said they were seeking $150,000 in exchange for a 15% stake in their company. While they didn’t yet tell the sharks what their product was, they passed around plates from them to sample.
Nique stated that 1.25 billion chicken wings were consumed during the last Super Bowl, and that the second most popular food was chips and dip. Their product – called Back 9 Buffalo Chicken dips – was made by blending chicken breast with sauces. It was like chicken wings in a dip.
Daymond referred to it as a Chicken Slurpee and then Kevin said it reminded him of the classic SNL “Bass-O-Matic” skit, except it was chicken in a blender instead of fish. Kevin started to laugh so hard he was crying and kept referring to all of the poor chickens that lost their lives for the dip.
David said it was not that much different than chopping up chicken and making chicken salad, only the chicken was chopped a bit finer. Nique said, “I married him for this dip!”
Lori thought it tasted delicious, and after the sharks had stopped laughing and composed themselves, they took on a more serious tone.
Robert wanted to hear their story, so Nique hinted there was a life experience that made them realize they needed to find a way to make money. When asked what the experience was, she explained that David had lost his job the last time she was pregnant. They downsized their home, sold one of their cars and a lot of other personal items, but it had all worked out for the best.
Kevin was ready to talk numbers. He wanted to know about sales. David told him that they had made nearly $400,000 in less than two years, and they had close to 400 accounts. Recently, a big supermarket chain in Florida decided to give them a 60-store test with a weekly sales goal. As it turned out, they were hitting the weekly goal on a daily basis.
Then David told the sharks that the retail cost for the dip was $7.99-$8.99 per pound, and wholesalers could purchase it for $5.25. The cost to make the dips was approximately $2.50. To date, they had invested $150,000 in the company.
Robert was wondering if there was always a positive reaction to the dip. Nique said people loved it, and after tasting it, and they didn’t have an issue with the idea of blended chicken. Lori reiterated that she thought it was wonderful and that she loved the two of them. But she didn’t think she was the right person to get the dip into supermarkets everywhere. She was out.
Mark thought they would likely continue to do well, but he didn’t have the skills or experience to handle food distribution of this sort. It was not a fit for him, so he dropped out.
Kevin said he admired them and thought they had done a great job so far. But as an investment, it would mean a lot of risks. It didn’t work for him, so he was out.
Robert loved their story and admired what they had done, but said it was a brutal business, and that they needed a partner that could help them go down that road. He could offer advice and encouragement, but he didn’t believe he was the right person to lead them. He dropped out.
That left Daymond to consider a partnership. He started by saying it was such a hard decision for him, and that he had some regrets about not partnering with a contestant from last year that had gone on to make it big. But Lori interrupted him. She really liked David and Nique and thought maybe she could come back in if Daymond were to join her with a $150,000 offer for 25% equity.
But Daymond wanted to get his story out. He spoke about the time when he had no money, a little girl, and a pregnant wife. He had just needed someone to give him a chance and LL Cool J did that for him with FUBU. And when his second child was born, he was a millionaire. Despite recognizing that everyone deserved a chance, he still didn’t think he could go in on a deal.
After a few seconds of silence, Robert spoke up. “I think sometimes in life you just need a chance,” he said. He agreed to partner with Lori, even though at this point he couldn’t add a lot of value. The Mealeys said, “We won’t let you down,” and accepted the deal: $150,000 for 25% equity. The new partners hugged the couple.
Final Deal: $150,000 for 25% Equity
Back 9 Dips After Shark Tank
Bubba The Love Sponge had always been a minority partner in the business but that wasn’t brought up on the show. According to David, that wasn’t an issue for either Lori or Robert. The dip was eventually marketed as BUBBA’s Chicken Dip.
After the show aired, David said he was working on improving manufacturing, and Nique was handling marketing and community events. Sales spiked after the episode ran, and the Mealey’s continued to increase distribution into more stores. They were even able to sign a deal with Costco.
But it wasn’t long until they ran into a brick wall. The company had failed to disclose that anchovies – an allergen – were an ingredient in the dip, and they were forced by the USDA to recall 112,500 pounds of BUBBA’s Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dip. At that point, the dip had been selling online and at grocery stores in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. After the recall, the company couldn’t recover and is no longer in business.
Currently, David Mealey works as a Regional Sales Manager for Nat Sherman, a handmade cigar and “luxury cigarette” company. Nique is a Field Marketing Manager for a restaurant group in the Orlando area.
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