Business Over Beer

#65. | Michael Pan, Part 1 | Founder Pan’s Mushroom Jerky | Sharing the Family Food Secret | #vegansnacks

January 29, 2021

On this episode of Business Over Beer, Michael Pan, founder of Pan's Mushroom Jerky, joins us fresh of his appearance on ABC's Shark Tank TV show. A former engineer for Motorola, and the product guy for a tech start up, Michael dipped his toe into different types of entrepreneurship before going all in on Pan's Mushroom Jerky in 2018. 

During a trip to Malaysia to connect with his roots, Michael's cousin served him a mushroom snack that he had been making for friends, family and selling locally. After that trip, feeling blown away by the product, and now having this family story that he felt connected to, combined with a feeling of wanting to do something new professionally, Michael knew he wanted to get mushroom jerky out to the rest of the world.

How does it taste? Well, we pair three Pan's Mushroom Jerky flavors with different types of craft beer.  



In this episode:

  • Made with shiitake mushrooms, Pan's Mushroom Jerky is plant-based, vegan, high in fiber and vitamin D, paleo-friendly, Kosher, soy-free, gluten-free, and uses organic ingredients.
  • The goal is to get the texture of the meat without using meat and mushrooms are a very healthy and still satisfying part of a vegetarian diet.
  • During the early years as a side hustle, natural food trends and vegan foods were still very niche and beef jerky was still becoming artisan, so with these emerging markets were coming out, there was a good idea for a business, but Michael didn't know if there was full time business there.  
  • Initially importing the product from his family overseas, Michael started it as a side hustle, giving him the time he needed to learn how to run a food business.
  • In 2012, he launched a tech start up, Fan Cred, with friends as his first leap into entrepreneurship, giving him the experience he needed to go all in with the mushroom jerky business.
  • In 2018, Michael boot strapped his business, testing recipes over and over in his apartment, sampling it like crazy and wearing all the hats, from sourcing ingredients, to making the product, to going out and selling it.
  • The uniqueness of the product caught people's eye early on, getting it onto a few store shelves, and then attending food tradeshows helped to initially scale the business in retail.


Guest Beers - Paired with Pan's Mushroom Jerky:

Gigantic Brewing Co. - Portland, OR

Kölschtastic, Kölsh, 5% ABV, 25 IBU - paired with Pan's BBQ Mushroom Jerky

"Kölschtastic is a Kölsch style beer inspired by a trip to Köln, Germany. It is a clean, crisp traditional beer with a subtle balance of malt and hops. It is a clear, top-fermented beer with a bright straw yellow hue similar to other beers brewed primarily with Pilsner malt. We use traditional Kölsch yeast in our version, but add a little more hop than the Germans do.  Gigantic Kölsch is a beautiful, crisp version of the original with just a touch of hops to balance the malt."


Backwoods Brewing Co. - Carson, WA

Big Cedar IRA, India Red Ale, 6.5% ABV, 50 IBU - paired with Pan's Original Mushroom Jerky

"Brewed year round, this India Red Ale has hop-forward flavor, balanced with a sweet and roasty malt finish. Floral aroma, with citrus and pine."


Wild Ride Brewing - Redmond, WA

Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter, 6% ABV, 18 IBU - paired with Pan's Zesty Thai Mushroom Jerky

"We love beer. And we love peanut butter. And Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter is here to bring the best of these two worlds together! With notes of chocolate and caramel, this porter is complemented by the addition of creamy peanut butter flavor. It's a true liquid peanut butter cup, and it's here for you to enjoy."


Episode Links:

Pan's Mushroom Jerky

Michael Pan on Shark Tank

The Spottsville Monster

A Taste of Asia and Tea

New Seasons Market


Motorola Startac

Fan Cred