Wanna Date? Riding Wave Of Growth For Plant-Based Food Industry Following ‘Shark Tank’ Success

Wanna Date appears on Shark Tank.
Eric McCandless / ABC

The plant-based food industry is poised for significant growth in the coming decades, and Wanna Date? may be getting a bit of a head start thanks to its success on Shark Tank.

The company was featured in a January, 2020, episode of the reality show that is being revisited in August. The outfit was able to score a major investment from billionaire Mark Cuban. As Forbes noted, the Dallas Mavericks owner has a knack for investing in companies with a similar concept, and he appears to be tapped in to the projected growth for the industry.

“As the popular television show enters its 11th season, it’s clear that plant-based eating is a burgeoning area of business for entrepreneurs across the United States. The industry is said to be worth around $5 billion, growing 29% in the last two years, and is projected to grow to $50 billion by 2025,” the Forbes report noted.

As Forbes added, Cuban has invested in a number of other all-natural and vegan food companies, including another featured earlier in Season 11 called Snacklins. The report noted that his company has been a strong partner in supporting the growth of their smaller outfits and connecting them to a larger distribution network.

Wanna Date? founder Melissa Bartow appears on Shark Tank.
  Eric McCandless / ABC

Wanna Date? offers a vegan alternative to dessert spreads, and attracted plenty of attention from the other investors in the show. Melissa Bartow, the business’s founder and CEO, said the investment has helped her to expand operation and stop relying on loved ones for financial support.

“I no longer have to depend on my family for capital,” she shared. “Instead, I get to run my company with the guidance of people who have been there, and Mark is the first to answer any question I have and offer advice. I feel like I finally have a team behind me.”

As Business 2 Community reported, Cuban seemed to have quite a bit of faith in the outfit started by the recent New York University graduate. Though Wanna Date? had been in operation for less than a year and had brought in $31,000 in sales, Bartow was able to score a $100,000 investment in exchange for a 33 percent stake in the operation. Cuban also offered some advice on better sizing for the product and including a plain, date-flavored offering.

With the funding, Bartow said Wanna Date? would be able to get its production costs down and increase the per-product revenue. Wanna Date? also came out of Shark Tank with some viral momentum, and has earned some glowing praise from customers and reviews thanks to the appearance.