Indigenous Shark Tank pitch lands Yaala Sparkling $125,000 from ethical investor Dr Catriona Wallace

- September 12, 2023 2 MIN READ
Yaala Sparkling cofounders Tara Croker and Mel Davey pitching on Shark Tank
Yaala Sparkling cofounders Tara Croker and Mel Davey pitching on Shark Tank
Australian bush flavours drinks brand  Yaala Sparkling has landed a $125,000 investment from Shark Tank ‘shark’ Dr Catriona Wallace.

The Queensland Indigenous-owned business, cofounded by Wiradjuri Yinaa woman Tara Croker and her mother Mel Davey, is developing a range of  alcohol-free drinks flavoured with native ingredients sourced from Indigenous wild harvesters and local farmers.

Yaala translates as ‘the present moment’ in Wiradjuri, was launched earlier this year, and has already found shelf space at drinks retailer Dan Murphy’s with its two flavours: lemon myrtle and native blossom; and Davidson plum and waratah.

Croker said Dr Wallace ‘s deep knowledge and experience will be valuable in taking our business to its next stage of growth as they offer a healthy alternative to alcohol and regular soft drinks.

Yaala Sparkling

The initial Yaala Sparkling range

“The rapidly growing native foods and botanicals industry is thought to be worth up to $50 million a year, and yet less than 2 percent of businesses in the native food sector are Indigenous-owned,” she said.

“Our mission with Yaala Sparkling is to establish an Indigenous-owned business in the native food industry and increase First Nations representation in the industry.

“At Yaala Sparkling we work with First Nations suppliers throughout our supply chain and business, including wild harvesters, local farmers, and artists. Any business using native plants and knowledge passed down over generations has a duty and responsibility to preserve traditional knowledge and invest back into the community”.

Croker pitched on second episode of Shark Tank last week, catching the eye of Wallace, an artificial intelligence expert, ethicist and human rights advocate, more at the wobbegong than great white end of the show’s sharks.

“My reason for investing in Yaala Sparkling is that the business and product fills a currently unmet need in the soft drink industry,” she said.

“Indigenous inspired and Australian native plant flavoured sparkling water will be hugely successful, not only in Australia, but internationally. The care, crafting and quality of these drinks is second to none and the entrepreneurs are exceptional. I have worked with many Indigenous led businesses in the past and I am so thrilled to be teaming up with Mel and Tara to bring this business to scale”.

The pair plan to use the funds to ramp up production and distribution of Yaala Sparkling.