Spotlight on Small Businesses: Soupergirl

Soupergirl is a local Washington business that offers handmade, vegan and kosher soups with plastic-neutral packaging. Founded in 2008 by Sara Polon and her mother, Marilyn Polon, the business has always meant more than just soup to its owners and customers.

Sara Polon is a former stand-up comedian who began making healthy soups when she discovered the “corrupted food system and [decided] the best way to make an impact is to start a soup company,” according to the company’s website.

According to Soupergirl’s website, her mother, Marilyn, became involved after she  realized “that her daughter is mediocre at best in the kitchen and decid[ed] she need[ed] to step in.”

After starting in a small rented space in 2009, Soupergirl moved to its own soup shop in Takoma, Washington in 2011. From there, the duo managed to get their product onto shelves at Whole Foods and Costco.

By the time they landed on Shark Tank, asking for $500,000 in exchange for a 10% equity stake, they had already established themselves as a rising company with potential. In 2017, they generated $2.4 million in sales, an increase from $1.4 million in 2016. However, the Polons were only able to earn a 5% profit, something that shocked and concerned the sharks.

The sharks, Kevin O’Leary in particular, were extremely adamant that the Polons had overpriced the business and needed to switch to a co-packer to minimize costs. However, Sara claimed that a co-packer would hurt the company’s claim of quality and sustainability, and they walked out of the tank without a deal.

Despite not scoring a deal, Soupergirl impressed Matt Higgins, one of the show’s guest sharks, and he reached out to the company afterward. He later became an adviser, and his connections helped boost the company’s interest and funding.

When the pandemic hit, Soupergirl continued to expand in a safe, community-conscious way. They raised a grand total of $2 million in funding in 2020, including investment from other healthy food brands such as Honest Tea and Beyond Meat.

Soupergirl has seen consistent success with an estimated annual revenue of $9 million. They remain focused on their core values, recently partnering with Arcadia for solar power and donating hundreds of bowls of soup to the DC Food Project.

According to a Sidwell parent, who has been a longtime customer of Soupergirl, they especially appreciate “that [the soups] are handmade locally, and that they offer many interesting flavors.” They recommend the Slurpworthy Summer Vegetable, Portuguese White Bean, Watermelon Gazpacho and the Spicy Tomato Basil Gazpacho.

Soupergirl’s success continues with “a very humble mission to change the world, one bowl of soup at a time,” as Polon reported in an interview with Converter Magazine.