Wanna Date?: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Believe it or not, Wanna Date? founder Melissa Bartow didn't have her first taste of the juicy fruit until college. The Georgia native had moved to the Empire State to attend ​​New York University, and it was there that the budding entrepreneur experienced her incredible rite of passage: tasting super sweet and chewy Mediterranean dates, a moment she says was "love at first bite."

The experience came back to her while working at a smoothie shop in college in 2017. Bartow questioned why unhealthy sugars were often used to sweeten nourishing foods like acai bowls instead of something healthier, so she hunkered down in her dorm room to make her own fruit-based sweetener and, soon, Wanna Date? was born. 

After raising a modest $2,250 on an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2018, Bartow kept at developing her business, and two years later, she was on Season 11, Episode 11 of the hit show "Shark Tank" to pitch her sweet vegan spread. The appearance happened just three weeks after she graduated college.

As one of the world's first date spreads, according to the brand, the five shark investors — Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, and Kevin O'Leary — were certainly intrigued. Bartow provided them all with four mouthwatering date spread flavors to try: chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice. But, did any of the sharks actually take the fruity bait?

Here's what happened to Wanna Date? on 'Shark Tank'

When she appeared on "Shark Tank," Wanna Date? founder Melissa Bartow asked for a $100,000 investment for a 20% stake in her company. Bartow explained to the sharks what set her brand apart from other spreads — namely, her products are all-natural, vegan, allergen-free, and only have 30 calories per serving. "It's the perfect go-to alternative for any nut butter or syrup out there," she told the panel, predicting that dates would be the next big food trend to come, akin to avocados and cauliflower.

Daymond John was one of the first to voice his concerns, asking if the calorie count was correct because the spread tasted so sweet, which led Kevin O'Leary to launch into a short, yet riveting, history lesson about the edible fruit. "What people don't understand about the date, it's one of the healthiest fruits on Earth, and actually, it's lower [in calories] than many fruits," O'Leary explained.

Other questions from the sharks arose, from the relatively high cost of making a jar to the challenges of selling date spreads in a crowded market. Barbara Corcoran questioned Bartow's motivation to succeed after learning she was still receiving financial support from her father, while Mark Cuban voiced his disappointment that there wasn't a plain flavor currently available, saying dates should be "the star of the show." Ultimately, the sharks dropped out one-by-one until just Cuban remained; he made an offer for $100,000 for a 33% stake in the company, which Bartow promptly accepted.

Wanna Date? after 'Shark Tank'

Appearing on "Shark Tank" isn't just a great way to raise capital for a company, with Bartow confirming she and Cuban in fact closed the deal after the episode, it's also phenomenal asset in terms of garnering national publicity. The "Shark Tank effect" certainly worked its magic on Melissa Bartow's brand. 

In addition to sales of Wanna Date? skyrocketing overnight, the small business owner also received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, in particular with many responding to Corcoran's comments about Bartow being financially supported by her father. "When the episode aired, I got a gazillion emails," she revealed on the podcast The Videocraft Show. "America resonated with me."

Bartow's "Shark Tank" episode came out in January 2020, only a couple of months before the surge of COVID-19. However, the subsequent pandemic didn't stop the company from taking off long after Bartow went swimming with the sharks. In the years since, Wanna Date? has released new spread flavors like Cookie and Original (the latter of which is probably Mark Cuban's favorite), and the products have landed in major retailers like Whole Foods and Home Goods. 

The pandemic even inspired Bartow to launch a new product — Wanna Date? Dough — which she released in 2021 after surpassing a $10,000 Kickstarter campaign goal. Available in flavors like Chocolate Brownie, Birthday Cake, and Snickerdoodle, the edible dough features clean, natural ingredients like coconut and almond flour and, of course, dates.

Wanna Date? is still in business

Date night is every night for this fruit spread line. More than three years after founder Melissa Bartow's "Shark Tank" episode aired, Wanna Date? is alive and spreading. "The American dream of spreading dates across Instagram is still going strong," the company recently captioned online. Now primarily available at Home Goods, Amazon, and the company's website, Wanna Date? is still churning out its delicious-looking spreads and doughs — and often selling out.

Though Bartow revealed in a YouTube video in September 2022 that she won't answer questions about financials, some sources have estimated that Wanna Date? may be worth up to $2 million dollars.

Wanna Date? keeps customers coming back with ongoing offers including free shipping and 10% off if products are purchased in a bundle of four or more. Products currently range around $12 for a jar of the spread to $14 for the edible dough.

What's next for Wanna Date?

With jars of Melissa Bartow's scrumptious date spread continually selling out, it's safe to say business is booming for the young entrepreneur, who's now 26-years-old. But, with much of the company's day-to-day operations now outsourced, Bartow was able to shift her time and energy into a new career path: fitness. 

Bartow is now a studio manager and instructor for New York Pilates, a position she took up back in September 2022, according to her LinkedIn. "Life is so good, and different than it was two to three years ago," she explained in a podcast interview shared on her YouTube account.

When she's not teaching Pilates, you can probably find Bartow whipping up tasty treats using her sweet spreads and decadent dough mixes. She regularly shares recipe videos on YouTube and her social media accounts — they run the gamut from date "nice cream" and vanilla iced coffee to protein balls and even the yummy classic, soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies.