Behind the Brand
Pan’s was founded by Michael Pan. The brand’s story traces back to 2008, when Michael was visiting extended family in Malaysia. Michael had tasted a homemade jerky-like snack that his vegetarian cousin was making and selling at the time, and he immediately fell in love with the taste and texture. He initially thought it was pork-based but was shocked to discover that it was actually a family recipe featuring shiitake mushrooms. Though Michael spent the next 5 years working in the corporate world as an electrical engineer, he couldn’t stop thinking about this mushroom jerky and worked on refining the concept in his free time. Fortunately, after a startup that he helped launch was eventually acquired in 2016, Michael finally found himself with the time and resources to commit to Pan’s.
Michael started out by importing jerky from Malaysia. He updated the family recipe, moved production to Portland, Oregon, and started experimenting with different flavors. A self-funded one-man team, Michael worked on everything from marketing to building the website to researching import regulations. The business grew steadily after its launch but got its big break in 2020, when it was featured on Shark Tank and landed an investment from Mark Cuban. After the episode aired, Pan’s received a whopping 35,000 orders (equating to about $1 million in sales), which took several months to fulfill. This was just the beginning of Pan’s spectacular growth, with the brand’s cult-favorite mushroom jerky becoming a staple in many pantries across the country.