In Shark Tank season 10, Samantha Stephens took the stage to pitch for her all-oatmeal café in front of the five hungry Sharks. Samantha had given up on her finance career to bring her entrepreneurial dreams to reality, and she wanted one of the Sharks to help her swim through the murky waters of expansion. Samantha was confident that her creative recipes and nutritious oatmeal varieties had the potential to be a national sensation.
She asked the Sharks for a $500,000 investment for a 20% equity stake and valued her business at $2.5 million. The Sharks, especially Kevin and Daymond, were quick to grill her for more information on numbers and sales.
What Is OatMeals?
OatMeals is a New York City restaurant concept that takes the old-fashioned oatmeals and spins them into a creative delicacy. The all-oatmeal café uses whole grain, natural, and steel-cut oats to prepare nutritious, cheap, and easy oatmeal mixes. At OatMeals, entrepreneur Samantha Stephens employs her creative abilities to fashion flavors bound to curb your unique cravings. Her eatery is the only one of its kind in New York City, but Samantha sees it as a soon-to-be national phenomenon.
In Shark Tank Holiday Special 2018, Samantha Stephens made a strong case for her oatmeal eatery in front of the Sharks. She realized her love for oatmeals while she was still a freshman in college. Samantha reminisced how sometimes an oat bar was all she needed to get through the day as they were filling and nutritious and needed no prep. After graduating from college in 2004, Samantha acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to make her dream oatmeal shop a reality!
By 2008, Samantha had honed her entrepreneurial acumen and had a degree in pastry arts. She wanted to give students and oatmeal lovers a venue to celebrate their otherwise mundane meal choice. Finally, in 2012, Samantha gave up on her thriving finance career and dove headfirst into uncharted waters.
In just a few hours, Samantha’s all-oatmeal eatery had become the place to be in New York’s west village. Her diverse oatmeal creations were served with optional toppings like shaved parmesan, chocolate chips, bacon, and truffle oil. Soon after opening, Quaker Oats made her their official spokesperson, a title she holds to this day.
Samantha presented her bestseller “the Elvis,” topped with sea salt, peanut butter, honey, bacon, and banana, to the excited Sharks. Lori became an instant fan and couldn’t stop raving about the flavors. Barbara and Mark were equally pleased with their nutritious fillings.. After the tasting, Samantha asked the Sharks if they were willing to take a chance on her and give up $500,000 for 20% equity stakes, amping up the music to a tense beat.
Kevin and Daymond grilled Samantha on her numbers and were stumped with her $2.5 million valuation. She had made $2.5 million in lifetime sales and hoped to rake in $500,000 in 2018. She emphasized that OatMeals operated solely from a 380-square-foot shop and thought there was room for growth.
Kevin was quick to opt-out, saying that the worth wasn’t worth $2.5 million in his eyes, and Daymond followed suit. The latter expressed that he couldn’t wait 12 years to recover his investment because that’s just bad business.
With two Sharks out of the tank, Samantha turned to Lori and Barbara for reinforcements.
Lori offered her $500,000 for 33.33% equity stakes if Samantha agreed to package her products and sell them in retail as well. Lori believed that she could replicate the success of Bantam Bagel, another one of her Shark Tank investments, by taking them to Starbucks.
Barbara was quick to intervene and criticize Lori’s business model. She thought it would be best to turn OatMeals into a cart business and introduce it into corporate America. She offered Samantha $500,000 for 50% stakes in her business, eliciting scandalized responses from the other Sharks.
With both female Sharks at an impasse, Mark intervened to rehash what both were offering: Lori was offering to expand distribution, whereas Barbara wanted to reformat her business more efficiently.
Samantha shook hands with Lori Greiner, but the deal fell through in the negotiation phase.
In 2019, OatMeals fell prey to the COVID-19 pandemic and went out of business. Currently, Samantha is working on her cookbook and food channel and is working to revive her business.
Our Review of OatMeals
We found OatMeals a promising effort to change how people eat their oasts and cereals. Samantha’s unique recipes were a treat for everyone who likes variety in their meals but has little energy to spend on meal preps. Still, it was a shame that the entrepreneur chose Lori over Barbara, whose cart business idea had the potential to help her eatery achieve national expansion. Additionally, OatMeals wasn’t offering the ease and flexibility that made traditional oat bars and oat bowls famous among its consumers.
Pros of OatMeals
- Nutritious and healthy
- Variety of flavors and toppings
Cons of OatMeals
- Cheaper alternatives
Who Is OatMeals for?
OatMeals is for people who want to eat healthy and nutritious without putting in any effort. If you are looking for diverse flavors, variety in toppings, and a cozy place to chill, OatMeals is the place to be!
Are There Any Alternatives?
OatMeals was the only all-oatmeals café in New York City and had no niched competition. Still, it was an eatery that needed to go head-to-head against other food chains, breakfast nooks, and eateries to make a splash. Not to mention, the traditional oat bars and cereals were quick grabs at every grocery store and mart.
Our Final Thoughts
We think Samantha Stephens’ appearance on Shark Tank Holiday Special 2018 was an opportunity gone to waste. Although we found Barbara’s offer more appealing in terms of value, Lori would still have been an asset for OatMeals during the pandemic. She had helped various food businesses survive the COVID-19 grind quite efficiently.
Despite her failures, Samantha can still make a comeback and utilize her social media success to drive her business model. As a Quaker Oats spokesperson, she has the experience and the skill to give her dreams another spin.