Wanna Date? is a date-spread product that aims to satisfy sweet cravings naturally and in a healthier way. Melissa Bartow, CEO and creator of the company, appeared on Shark Tank on January 12, 2020 to convince the sharks to invest in her company.
Wanna Date?’s mission is to satisfy the world’s sweet cravings in a more natural way using dates. The spread can be compared to apple butter, fig butter or nut butter, but it is date-based rather than based on those other foods. Being date-based allows the spread to be allergen-free as well as vegan.
Bartow was able to get her company off the ground while she was still in college. She was taking an elective class at Tisch School of the Arts called Crowdfunding Video Production at the time, and she decided to use the video and campaign she created as a way to launch her date-spread company.
Here’s what you need to know about Wanna Date?:
1. It Started in a Dorm Room
Bartow began Wanna Date? when she was still living in a dorm room. Instead of getting more space right away, she created the product and stored it in her dorm room until she could get the company off the ground.
Bartow hadn’t tasted a date until she moved to New York City for college; she had a serious sweet tooth but had had a hard time finding things she could eat that would satisfy the cravings without later feeling guilty. Enter dates. She loved dates the very first time she tried them, realizing how sweet they are and how nutritious they are.
“Over time I found myself feeling so much happier and energized now that I could finally eat something sweet (and freaking-delicious) that didn’t leave me feeling guilty,” Bartow writes on the about portion of Wanna Date?’s site.
After working at a smoothie shop and realizing how unhealthy smoothies and acai bowls can be, Bartow bought her own food processor and began experimenting with dates in her dorm room. She only added water and cinnamon to the first batch, and she instantly fell in love.
In an Elevator Talk video with Nosh News, Bartow discusses how she never liked science and didn’t know what pH or a copacker was before starting her company, saying she’s learned a lot since she started and continues learning every day.
2. There Was a Campaign on IndieGoGo
In a class she was taking, Bartow had to develop a crowdfunding campaign. At this point, she already had the idea for Wanna Date? in her head, so she went ahead and started the actual campaign. It raised over $2,000.
For the campaign video, Bartow had two strangers participate in a blind (date) taste test of Wanna Date? The people in the video talk about how the spread tastes like a cinnamon roll, or a “liquid snickerdoodle cookie” and they both compliment how smooth the spread is. Bartow then gives them cookies to dip into the spread. After taking off their blindfolds, she hands them bananas and pancakes to spread Wanna Date? on. Both testers loved the spread, continuing to eat it throughout the video.
“So if you’re sick of cheating on your diet with all those fake and fattening nut butters,” she says in the video. “It’s time you break up with them and get with us.” She goes on to ask for investments to help with packaging and manufacturing.
Bartow was a senior at New York University when she officially launched her company.
3. Wanna Date? Is Available in Stores
Unlike some Shark Tank products, Wanna Date? is available for purchase both online and in select stores around the country. According to the store locator on Instagram, the spread is available to purchase in certain stores and farmer’s markets in 24 states, though it is only available in one or two stores in some of those states.
The date spread can also be ordered through the website. The site says they ship the product everywhere and the package will be cute when it arrives.
You can choose to order each spread as a one-time purchase for $12 or as a subscribe and save option for $10.79 per jar. Shipping costs are dependent on where you live but can be up to $10, so it is better to buy a large supply at a time if you’re ordering from the website and know what you like. Each jar is 9 ounces and free shipping is offered on orders of 4 jars or more.
4. There Are Five Spreads to Date
For people who’d like to try out more than one type of date spread, there are five flavors available on the website. The flavors available are pumpkin spice, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate and original. All flavors are made from less than five ingredients and no added sugar.
Since Wanna Date? is all-natural, the site showcases the fact that all of the spreads have less than 25 calories per tablespoon and have no added sugar. All the spreads are also vegan, paleo, oil-free and cholesterol-free. The spreads are also dairy-free and allergen friendly.
The only added ingredient in each type of spread is lactic acid, which the site’s frequently asked questions explain by saying that it makes the spread shelf-stable and stabilize the pH of the date spread.
5. Bartow Originally Wanted to be a Photographer
Bartow never thought about being the CEO of her own company; she was attending Gallatin University in New York City studying art and photography before she launched her own business. She now considers herself the “queen of amateur hour” when it comes to being a CEO, saying she uses Google searches to power through the “hardcore business stuff.”
“But beyond the daily struggles I genuinely do wake up excited every single day to open my laptop and get to work on Wanna Date?” Bartow writes on the Wanna Date? website.
The 22-year-old CEO told Washington Square News that she thought she’d do something in photography or creative direction after college, saying she did do a PR agency internship and also had an internship at Seventeen magazine, but nothing really clicked with the big companies.
“So I went to a food startup the summer leading into my junior year and caught the entrepreneur bug and also the food industry bug,” she said.
When asked what she was looking for in an investor, Bartow said she was looking to build a team to help out.
“People who have experience in the industry, in distribution, retail, not only to allow us to scale, but so I can do more of what I’m good at and love, which is the branding, the creative, the product development and the innovating.”
On her Shark Tank appearance, Bartow asked the sharks for $100,000 for a 10 percent stake. Daymond and Laurie both bowed out early on, followed by Mark, who was disappointed that there was no original flavor to taste at the time. Barbara shared the same concerns and added that the fact that Bartow was still being supported by her parents made her uneasy. Mark and Daymond disagreed with Barbara’s assessment, but Kevin also bowed out.
Mark expressed his love for dates and made an offer. He offered $100,000 for a 33 percent stake. After hesitating, Bartow took the offer.