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New Yorkers love their bagels but for others, a full bagel is just too much commitment. Because of this married couple, Nick and Elyse Oleksak created a mini bagel called Bantam Bagels. They pitched their product on Shark and scored a deal with Lori Greiner. As of 2022, Bantam Bagels is worth an estimated $2 million. The business had a much higher valuation before it was acquired in 2018.

About the Founders

Nicholas and Elyse Oleksak is a husband and wife duo from New York City, New York. They are both former students at Columbia University. Nick has a bachelor’s degree in economics, and Elyse studied sociology and political science.

Both of them ended up on Wall Street. After finishing college, Nick landed his first job as a credit broker at the financial services firm GFI Group.

Elyse started as an intern at Cohen & Wolfe, Y&R Brands, and the Walt Disney Company. Then, she was hired as an account manager at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide. Elyse also worked as an analyst and associate at Morgan Stanley for four years.

Founding the Company

As New Yorkers, Nick and Elyse always loved the taste of bagels, but they didn’t like that they were too big. This gave Nick the idea to bake small bagel balls filled with cream cheese in their home kitchen.

The couple thought it might work as a business, so they opened a shop in 2013. They sold the bagels through retail which brought in some sales, but their profit margins were slim. So, the aspiring entrepreneurs tried taking their promising snack product to television.

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Bantam Bagels were featured on QVC and regularly sold out in minutes. After this, they gained attention from Oprah Winfrey and the New York Daily News. With this, it generated around $200,000 in sales.

Shark Tank Appearance

Nick and Elyse applied for Shark Tank multiple times and finally got accepted in 2015. The couple appeared on season five of the show, asking for $275,000 for an 11% equity stake. Given their background in corporate finance, the pitch was very polished.

Robert and Mark dropped out as the food industry is competitive and requires a lot of capital. Barbara Corcoran made the first offer of $275,000 for 51%. Kevin O’Leary offered $275,000 for 50% but had multiple conditions. Both were rejected. Lori Greiner proposed the same amount but for 30%. The founders countered with 25% and the deal was done.

After Shark Tank

The night their Shark Tank episode aired, Bantam Bagels’ website crashed due to a huge spike in orders. Later on, the mini bagels became available in Starbucks and 21,000 stores nationwide such as Safeway and Stop & Shop.

Their rapid rise attracted significant interest from larger companies. As a result, T. Marzetti Company acquired the bagel brand for $34 million in October 2018. By this time, the company was making $20 million in annual net sales according to Forbes. Lori’s investment of $275,000 would have netted her an $8.5 million exit.

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However, when the pandemic hit it massively impacted the food service industry as stores were forced to close and restaurants reduced the size of their menus. The biggest blow was Starbucks discontinuing the product as reported by Baking Business. Starbucks customers were disappointed and launched a petition on to bring them back which got over 1,000 signatures.

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In the third quarter ending March 31, 2022, Lancaster Colony lost $4.48 million and Bantam Bagels was the reason for the drop in profits. Financial reports showed a “non-cash restructuring and impairment charge” of $22.7 million” for Bantam Bagels.

Lancaster Colony (parent company of T. Marzetti Company) exited the business in mid-2022 but was hoping to find a buyer. Bantam Bagels’ official website is now offline and their Instagram account was deleted. The bagel is still sold in some supermarkets.

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