For anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle, one way to start is by reducing your 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 2024, Wanna Date is valued at $2 million.
Melissa Bartow’s Background
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.
Creating a Healthier Alternative
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.
Pitching Wanna Date on Shark Tank
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.
Making Strides After Shark Tank
After the episode aired, Wanna Date picked up a nice boost in orders. The deal with Mark Cuban closed in 2020 after a slight delay and is listed on his personal website. Melissa stayed dedicated to her work and grinding during the pandemic.
This helped her get into Manhattan’s Whole Foods Market which is no small feat. The product range expanded 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.
The vegan product is mainly sold direct-to-consumer on their website, Amazon and in a selection of Whole Foods stores. Outside of Whole Foods, she sells in local health food stores. Melissa is doing a terrific job at promoting her brand on Instagram and has over 21,800 followers.
With small but steady steps, Wanna Date has made close to $5 million in lifetime sales. The company is currently valued at $2 million. Melissa works part-time as a Studio Manager for SLT and as a yoga instructor for CorePower in New York. It’s safe to say, Melissa’s dad no longer needs to support her financially.