For anyone who wants to change their lifestyle to a healthy and positive one, perhaps the best way to start is to reduce their sugar intake. The vegan date spread Wanna Date can help with this. Melissa Bartow, pitched her business on Shark Tank and struck a deal with Mark Cuban. As of 2022, Wanna Date is valued at $2 million.
About the Founder
Melissa Bartow grew up in the city of Kennesaw, Georgia. After graduating from high school, she immediately moved to New York City for college. She attended New York University and graduated with a degree in entrepreneurship.
However, Melissa is private about her early life. Other information, such as her family and early education background, isn’t publicly available.
She started her career as a brand ambassador and magazine photographer. Then, later on, she got employed in a health food store, working there for several months before she started her own business.
Establishing the Company
While working in a food store, Melissa was disappointed when she discovered that the acai bowls they were serving had more than 15 grams of sugar. She thought that acai berries would be enough to produce a natural raw sweetener.
She later experimented after envisioning a date-based nut butter. That is when Wanna Date’s first batch was created in the founder’s dorm room in 2017. It is a vegan-inspired spread that comes in five different flavors.
Wanna Date proved to be a substantial gluten-free alternative to jams and nut butter. With only 30 calories per serving, it became an ideal way to soothe a sugar craving without turning to refined sugar.
Shark Tank Appearance
On season 11 of Shark Tank, the Wanna Date founder requested $100,000 for 20% equity in her company. After giving out her samples, things got a little bit heated.
Daymond John, who just got back on the show during this time, pointed out that the product’s lack of market research may soon affect its earnings. Barbara also didn’t like how her father was giving the entrepreneur money to live in New York. After most investors backed out, Mark Cuban stood up and offered to invest $100,000, but for 33%.
Though Mark isn’t fully vegan, he is a vegetarian, and he believes this product could be profitable in the future. He also asked Melissa to add a basic date flavor, a smaller container, and to make it more affordable. She agreed, and the deal was confirmed.
After Shark Tank
Appearing on the show has positively affected Melissa’s business. Despite some speculation, the deal with Mark Cuban did go through in August 2020.
Melissa stayed dedicated to her work and grinding during the peak of the pandemic. This helped her get into Manhattan’s Whole Foods market., which is no small feat for entrepreneurs.
She expanded her product range with Date Dough, a dough that you add water to and make delish treats. Melissa sells dough products such as birthday cake, chocolate spread, cookie and pumpkin spread.
Currently, the vegan product is available in about 128 supermarkets in the United States. Her products are also sold through her website and Amazon. With small but steady steps, the company has made $4 million in lifetime sales, reaching a $2 million net worth.