Nadine Habayeb, co-founder of Bohana, appeared on Shark Tank to see if any of the Sharks would like to invest in her popcorn-alternative snack. She pitched the product to Sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner and Rohan Oza.
The entrepreneur founded Bohana alongside Priyal Bhartia. The snack is a popped water lily seed, which promises to be a healthier alternative to popcorn. The name Bohana came from the name of the seed itself, which is Makhana, which is a Hindi word. Bohana was their Bohemian version of that name.
The snack currently comes in three flavors: Himalayan Salt, Wild White Cheddar and Sriracha Spice.
The one Shark to watch out for every time there’s a healthy snack in the room is Mark Cuban. He’s nearly always interested and sometimes gets overly excited like he did with Coconut Girl Ice Cream this season.
Here’s what you should know about Bohana:
1. The Seeds Are Grown in India
The water lily seeds, which are the main ingredient of Bohana, are grown in a farm in Bihar, India. There is no middle man between the company and the farmers, which allows the company to ensure a sustainable supply chain, according to the company’s website.
They are then popped, roasted and packaged in the United States. There is no frying involved; the process of roasting the seeds at a high heat allows them to pop on their own.
The snack is “better than popcorn” because the seeds themselves contain less fat, fewer calories and more protein than popcorn does. They also state that there are no kernels, so there’s nothing to get stuck in your teeth.
2. The Founders Consider Themselves “Spiritual Junkies”
Habayeb and Bhartia consider themselves spiritual junkies. The Bohana website states that they are both curious to learn about the world’s oldest practices and the superfoods that have been around forever.
During the journey to creating Bohana, Bhartia went back to her Indian roots and “rediscovered her childhood snack,” which were popped water lily seeds. She later introduced the snack to her co-founder, and she was hooked immediately.
“The two never looked back and vowed to bring this ancient super snack to free spirit snackers everywhere,” the website reads.
3. The Goal is to Spread Ayurvedic Principles
The goal behind the founding of Bohana isn’t just to make a healthier snack popular. Instead, the company aims to spread what they call “free spirit snacking.”
The website reads that they are “striving to spread love, positivity and wellness through Ayurvedic principles. In a time where restrictive diets rule our feeds, we lose touch with our body’s needs and desires.”
Ayurveda spreads the idea that if a person tunes in to their body and figures out what works for their individual self, they will be healthy and well.
4. The Founders Come From Different Backgrounds
Because they are so different, the two founders work together really well, according to an interview conducted by foodboro.
“We balance each other really well,” Habayeb told the site. “She comes from an operations/supply chain background in agriculture in India so she’s very familiar with the operations side.”
She continued, saying that she came from a branding and marketing background, so putting the two separate backgrounds worked really well for founding the company.
“We feed off each other and challenge each other all the time,” she said.
5. The Water Lily Seeds Come From “Massive Lily Pads”
The water lily seeds are not pulled from small lily pads like those that may be found in the U.S. Instead, Makhana seeds come from large lily pads, though they are in the same family.
The company still faced difficulty with introducing a new product to the U.S. market, even with all their strengths balancing one another out.
“We knew there would be some consumer education, but we didn’t anticipate how much that would be,” Habayeb said. “That’s still a challenge, and always will be, because we’re super niche. But hopefully as we grow, and the category grows, that will become easier.”
Tune in to Shark Tank on Fridays at 8 p.m. on ABC.