O’Dang Hummus Before Shark Tank
Jesse Wolfe, the founder of O’Dang Hummus had his wisdom teeth pulled out in 2012, and whilst recovering found himself getting tired of milkshakes and soup, so he decided to try something new and began eating hummus. Although he found it was pleasant enough, he was surprised that there were only a few flavors of it, and they had been around for years.
Wanting to make the dish more appealing, Jesse began experimenting with his own versions of hummus, adding a few ingredients to add to the flavor he soon found that he had come up with a popular idea. His girlfriend began taking his hummus creation to work and sharing it with her colleagues, and the feedback from the impromptu test group was resoundingly positive.
Jesse, a student at the University of California, Florida, spoke about the experience in one of his classes and was encouraged to enter UCF’s annual entrepreneurial competition ‘The Joust’. It was a wise piece of advice, as Jesse entered the competition with his business plan, and ended up taking second, along with a check for $15,000, which enabled him to launch the O’Dang Hummus company on a reasonably sound financial footing.
A battle to get his product into hotly-contested spaces at local farmers markets began for Jesse, but the determined entrepreneur took some samples with him to the exclusive Lake Eola farmers market and bribed a janitor with $25 to take him to the market organizer. The organizer of the market was so impressed with Jesse’s hummus that she agreed to let him skip the two-year waiting list and begin selling at the market just one week later.
Jesse had big plans for his company, sales increased until his products were eventually being sold in ten farmers markets, but he wanted to scale the business until it was selling its products nationwide, and that would require a big investment. Jesse applied for Shark Tank in mid-2015 and prepared his pitch, but even now, he is convinced that it was the samples he took for the producers that finally won him a chance to pitch to the sharks. Jesse’s application was accepted and he finally appeared on the show in October 2015.
O’Dang Hummus On Shark Tank
When big Jesse Wolfe marched into the tank, he was hoping to get a $50,000 investment, in exchange for 10% equity in the company.
He began the pitch by introducing the sharks to his dream of a ‘Hummus Empire’. He told the business moguls that even though people had been enjoying the taste of Hummus for over 900 years, the flavors were ‘way past their expiry date’. But now there was a way to enjoy Hummus that was new and exciting for the 21st century, with O’Dang Hummus and its exciting range of new flavors. Jesse assured the Sharks that his flavors were a long way from the traditional ones, instead, his version of the classic dish was ready to take their taste buds ‘On a joy ride to Flavortown’.
The Sharks were enjoying the pitch, mainly due to Jesse’s larger-than-life personality and obvious enthusiasm for the World of hummus, but he had, even more, benefits of his hummus to share. He revealed that each serving of O’Dang hummus was only 30 calories, less than a third that of traditional hummus, and of course that meant you could eat three times as much, ‘Boom goes the dynamite!’ he exclaimed, to underline that particular advantage, and the sharks loved it.
Of course, there was only one thing on the sharks’ mind after the pitch, and that was the samples. Jesse was ready with a sample for each of them and they eagerly embarked on a bit of product testing without any further encouragement.
The samples seemed to go down well, but Kevin O’Leary noted that the challenge with the business was that it was in the refrigerated foods section, the most competitive of all sectors and that with the highest overheads. ‘Good point’ conceded Jesse, but he had another revelation for the sharks.
He announced that he had just launched another range of products, his hummus based salad dressings, and he quickly handed out samples of those to the sharks too. As the sharks explored this latest tasty treat Jesse told them that not only were his salad dressings shelf stable for up to two years, but they were completely oil free. The sharks, who seemed to be enjoying the salad dressings looked surprised at that revelation. But Jesse had even more good news, he informed the sharks that big retailers were ‘Going nuts’ over his oil-free Salad dressings, and he was due to meet with Publix Supermarkets in just three weeks time, to finalize a deal that would see his product sold in 1,100 of the stores in six states.
Kevin O’Leary inquired what sales would be achieved in the next year if the Publix deal went through. Jesse confidently told him that the business would achieve sales well in excess of $3 million, and he assured Kevin that the deal was as good as made already, there was no doubt that Publix would be stocking his products.
Kevin was looking interested, as were the other sharks, but he was still a little suspicious of the Publix deal. He asked Jesse why Publix would roll out the salad dressings in all 1,100 of their locations at once, rather than just a trial run in a few stores. Jesse had an answer for that too, he told Kevin that in order to hype interest in his products, he had supplied a flyer on his Facebook page that he had asked loyal customers to print off, and take it into Publix stores, in order to show how much interest in the range there was.
Barbara Corcoran conceded that it was a good marketing ploy, but Jesse revealed that the idea had ‘Gone rogue’, and by the way he was smiling, it had clearly gone ‘Rogue’ in a good way. He told the sharks that so many O’Dang Hummus fans had inundated the Publix Facebook page with requests for the companies products, that they had crashed the page. The next time Jesse had spoken to Publix he had been assured that they knew he was coming.
Mark Cuban spoke up. He told Jesse that he definitely had ‘An angle’, and, with a spoon in his hand, he assured Jesse that the Black Bean Salad Dressing was fantastic.
Kevin O’Leary quizzed Jesse about the cost of his products. Jesse revealed that he averaged a 40% profit margin across his range, from wholesale sales. The profit margin would be much higher from retail sales and Jesse also had plans to reduce the cost price if he could scale up the business with the help of a sharks investment.
Barbara Corcoran noted that Jesse, who was a whirlwind of enthusiasm and positivity, talked more than the sharks. It sounded almost like a compliment, but Barbara clearly felt that Jesse didn’t know what he was getting himself into. She told him that she had invested in so many food businesses that she understood how difficult it was to get shelf space in the insanely competitive sector. She believed that Jesse was underestimating how much of a challenge faced him.
The entrepreneur assured her he was prepared for the challenge and told her to trust him, but Barbara was not going to be swayed. She told him she didn’t trust him, he had absolutely no experience in the market and she believed he was naive, more so than any other entrepreneur she had ever met. And with that Barbara dropped out.
Robert Herjavec was clearly not of the same opinion, he announced that he was prepared to make an offer. He would supply the requested $50,000, in exchange for 15% equity in the business. Jesse looked overjoyed to have received at least one offer and thanked Robert, but Kevin O’Leary didn’t let him consider the offer for too long.
Mr. Wonderful announced that he too had an offer. He would supply the $50,000, in exchange for 20% equity, but he asserted that he knew far more about the food industry that Robert Herjavec, and would be a far more valuable partner in the business.
Lori Greiner admired Jesse’s passion for the business and seemed to be on the verge of making a third offer. Jesse suggested that perhaps she could team up with Robert and make a joint offer with him. Lori considered the idea briefly before agreeing that she would be happy to share a deal with Robert, but in return, they would need 25% equity between them.
Jesse looked pleased to have opened negotiations with Lori but looked less happy with giving away a quarter of his business. He asked Lori if she and Robert would agree to 20% equity.
Mark Cuban, who had been quiet for a while suddenly spoke up, ‘You know I’m still in right?’ he asked Jesse, who looked surprised at the news.
Robert Herjavec made an attempt to close a deal before Jesse could discuss things further with Mark Cuban. Referring to Jesse’s 20% equity counter offer he suddenly announced ‘I would do that’. Lori was quick off the mark as she quickly agreed to it too, saying to Jesse ‘Done’.
Jesse gave Mark Cuban a last look, but turned back to Robert and Lori and agreed ‘Done’, and the deal was struck. The new partners shook on the deal and Jesse left the tank, as Mark Cuban remarked to Barbara ‘I would have given him $100,000 for 20%’, but by then, of course, it was far too late.
O’Dang Hummus Now In 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Unfortunately, the deal with Robert and Lori never went through. Despite that, Jesse has managed to continue growing the company.
Just two years after the episode aired, he landed a deal with Walmart, who agreed to sell his hummus dressings at 2,000 locations. According to a Walmart representative, it was part of the company’s commitment to purchase $250 billion worth of products supporting American jobs. If anything, Jesse hadn’t expected to get that far that fast. He had previously worked with other retailers such as Whole Foods and Publix (their dressings are currently available at 70 retailers in New York City, 13 in LA, and 7 in Detroit) but volume-wise, they’re nothing compared to the Walmart deal.
Fast forward to June 2020 and it was announced that the company would be changing their name from O’Dang Hummus to O’Dang Foods. That same year, they refreshed the brand with new and reformulated dressings. Not only are they smoother in terms of texture, but the flavor profile has also been improved.
They also added new plant-based dressings, which like their other products, are gluten-free, egg-free, non-GMO, and free of high-fructose corn syrup. On top of that, they introduced a line of vegan mayonnaise, which is made with sunflower oil and aquafaba; it’s also egg-free, dairy-free, and cholesterol-free with no palm oil, artificial preservatives, or carbs.
As of 2023, O’Dang Foods is still in business. Currently, they offer eight different types of dressings (not including their plant-based mayo): chickpea dressing, garden herb ranch dressing, lemon caesar dressing, classic Mediterranean dressing, balsamic feta dressing, honey mustard dressing, Greek tzatziki dressing, and roasted red pepper dressing, all of which are egg-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan. Not to mention that they’re made with the highest quality ingredients.
If you want, you can also make your own O’dang 4-pack (you can pick and choose four different flavors) for $29.99. For those who are interested, you can learn more about it here. Shipping is free with every order and while they don’t accept returns of products, they do offer replacements and/or refunds on account of defects for 30 days from the date of purchase.
And for those who are wondering, the company has since earned $3.9 million in lifetime sales. If anything, that proves it’s possible to succeed even if you don’t end up working with a shark.
For those who’d like to keep up with the expanding business, you can check them out on social media. They can be found on Instagram (@odangfoods), Twitter (@odangfoods), as well as Facebook.
Correction, Mark Cuban said he would give Jesse $100,000 for 25%.
University of Central Florida.
My alma mater! Can’t believe they said University of California.
If Jesse did the Publix deal by himself, he could’ve easily grown the business without the Sharks. 50k is an easy financing deal without giving up equity.