The Pizza Cupcake, Famous from Shark Tank, Soars to New Heights

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on October 27, 2022

Millions of people across America were introduced to The Pizza Cupcake when its founders appeared on an episode of the hit television show Shark Tank and walked away with a deal from QVC mogul Lori Greiner. That was just the beginning of The Pizza Cupcake success story as the company’s products can now be found on the shelves of nearly 2,000 retail stores nationwide. The most recent addition, a national deal with Walmart, was recently announced.

Founded by husband and wife team Andrea Meggiato and Michelle Jimenez-Meggiato in Brooklyn, The Pizza Cupcake has captured the attention of celebrities and media alike. We caught up with Michelle for insight into the unique story behind how they got started, what it was like finding success on Shark Tank, and more.

GritDaily: How did you first develop the idea for The Pizza Cupcake?

Michelle Jimenez-Meggiato: When I met my husband Andrea, he asked me out on what he said would be the most unforgettable date I’d ever go on, but the twist was that he was going to teach me how to make pizza. He couldn’t have been more right. It ended up being the best cooking class of my life, and we made the most delicious pizza! He told me that night’s menu was inspired by the individually-sized pizzettas that he grew up eating in Venice, Italy; a big difference from the Bagel Bites and Pizza Rolls I grew up eating in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. From then on, I knew we had to share these yummy snacks with pizza-lovers everywhere!

GD: How did you get the first product off the ground and begin selling it?

MJM: The Pizza Cupcake started out as our go-to dish we made for birthday and housewarming parties for friends and family. It took off as a legitimate business when we started selling at NYC’s most prestigious food market on the weekends and landed our first corporate catering client, Instagram. We were sought out by The Executive Chef at Citi Field, and that’s when we realized there was an opportunity for Food Service distribution.

GD: You and your husband, Andrea, are co-founders. What is it like starting a business with your spouse? 

MJM: Our shared love for pizza, family and New York City set the foundation for our relationship. We are both products of hard working immigrant families with humble beginnings and share the same values in both life and business. Early on, it became clear that our skill sets really complimented each other, and there were certain things I’d take the lead on, certain things Andrea took the lead on, and then there were aspects of The Pizza Cupcake that required attention from both of us. The main thing is that we trust each other in our respective roles.

There are of course challenges in every business, and that can easily be compounded by relationships. We’ve worked incredibly hard to make sure our priorities always remain the same: hard work, integrity, family, and building something we’re proud of for our growing family. With that in mind, we tackle issues that come our way with love, mutual respect, trust and open communication.

GD: What led you to apply to Shark Tank?

MJM: As a huge Shark Tank fan, and as Mr. Wonderful called us during our pitch, “Students of Shark Tank,” it was always my dream to pitch on Shark Tank. I really respect what Shark Tank did for entrepreneurialism and giving small businesses an opportunity to share their story in front of millions of people around the country/world. I wanted to be a part of that. I knew that if we had the chance to pitch our business, and close a deal with Lori (also our dream shark), it would help push The Pizza Cupcake to the next level.

GD: What was that experience like?

MJM: It was truly one of the most challenging and nerve-racking experiences I’ve ever had, yet it was also exciting and exhilarating at the same time! It’s so hard to explain all the emotions you’re feeling. 

We were both so nervous, but the producer shared the best advice with us right before our pitch. He said to inhale for 3 seconds, and to roll our shoulders back three times as we exhale. We were told to repeat this for a total of 3 times, and as we exhaled, we felt all of that nervousness leaving our fingertips. As soon as we walked into the tank, I felt this sense of calmness, and when I looked at Andrea, I knew that we got this!

GD: Has there been any unexpected challenges you had to overcome?

MJM: Absolutely! When COVID hit, we almost didn’t survive. Our business mainly consisted of catering, outdoor markets and stadiums. COVID taught us to be flexible, innovative and meet our customers at home. In March 2020, we quickly pivoted to direct-to-consumer (DTC), which was a very steep learning curve. While our DTC efforts have improved tremendously, there are always new challenges as we continue to rapidly grow, without compromising our vision.

GD: With Walmart picking up The Pizza Cupcake in nationwide stores, the product is now available in nearly 2,000 total stores across the country. And that happened within just a year. What has that journey been like?

MJM: We were told upfront that it’s very difficult to launch a new brand, and that it could take years to receive freezer shelf space, since category reviews only happen once a year. During those reviews, you’re competing against major players with known track records. Beyond that, they’re all well-funded, and have the ability to outspend us for freezer placement.

Our approach was not traditional, especially since we launched during COVID when buyers were not taking in-person meetings, trade shows were canceled, and the whole industry was more risk-averse, so it was a very difficult time to try and showcase a new brand in that environment. However, we went full steam ahead and never looked back: We worked tremendously hard on building our brand, growing our customer base, and streamlining our operations.

We are so thankful for the chance that our retail partners have taken on us this early, especially with global concerns of inflation, and supply chain. We have continued to fulfill our commitments every step of the way, and have capacity to take on even more.

I think the biggest lesson here for future entrepreneurs is to play to your strengths. We may not have the resources of large companies, but we’re diligent and nimble, and have the ability to make decisions and pivot quickly.

GD: What advice would you give to other aspiring founders who hope to launch a product?

MJM: What is most important is to get your product in front of as many people as possible to gain proof of concept, and to obtain feedback from your customers. You don’t need to have all the answers right away, and you will continue to make improvements as you grow.

For example, one of the largest lessons from customer feedback, beyond if a product is desirable or not, can be how it compares to other products in the line up. It’s easy to drop a poorly-received product, but it’s a lot harder to drop a really well-received product.  Timing is also so incredibly important. We quickly realized that we had to concentrate all of our efforts on our top sellers to achieve scale. We would not have been able to pivot and scale distribution if we were focused on launching more than 2 SKUs (Margherita / Pepperoni) in the beginning. However, after a brand has reached a certain level in infrastructure, distribution, and credibility, it’s much easier to expand the product offering to a larger customer base.

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily Group, encompassing Financial Tech Times, Smartech Daily, Transit Tomorrow, BlockTelegraph, Meditech Today, and flagship outlet, Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he was on the editorial staff at and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 50+ early stage startups with 10+ exits through 2023.

Read more

More GD News