Funky Mello on Shark Tank: Introducing Allergen-Friendly Marshmallow Cremes

Who would have thought the industry of desserts could be revolutionalized by marshmallows? Well, Funky Mello takes you on a flavorful journey of vegan marshmallows, which are “whipped to perfection with chickpea magic.” Free from numerous allergens, these marshmallows were served to the host of sharks in the 16th episode of ‘Shark Tank’ season 16 in order to get investment and guidance from them and take their business to the next level.

Funky Mello: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

Delisa and Zach Harper are the creative force that founded Funky Mello. Talking about their journey and inspiration behind the brand, Delisa shared how the idea of Funky Mello came about to Austin Woman. She explained, “I’m a huge foodie with an even bigger sweet tooth, but I also have food allergies. I met my now husband, Zach (who also has food allergies), through a music festival, and we started Funky Mello six months into dating as a hobby. It started as a rice crispy treat business because it was something simple that we could create in unique flavors while keeping it allergen-free.”

“To better scale our business, we pivoted to making marshmallows, which evolved into the marshmallow creme we produce today. Can you believe it’s made with chickpeas,” continued Delisa. Once called the “Willy Wonkas of marshmallows,” Delisa and Zach crafted a line of dessert dips to cause a revolution in the industry and they chose chickpeas, which are known for their allergen-friendly characteristics. But before Funky Mello, the couple gained years of experience working for different companies. On the one hand, after earning BBA and MBA Degrees from Texas A&M University-Commerce, Delisa landed a job at Hewlett-Packard, where she began as an intern and worked her way up to become an Internal Communications Manager.

For her next venture, Delisa joined HP where she worked as a Partner Marketing Manager and NA Field Marketing Manager. She then switched to OpenText for three and a half years. During her tenure there, she was employed as an NA Field Marketing Specialist and Digital Event Specialist. Following that, she worked as an Event Marketing Specialist at RipUp and Event Manager at Search Engine Journal. After all these years of experience, she didn’t aspire to be an entrepreneur but she was into creating things. When she met Zach at the music festival, romance wasn’t the only thing that sparked in her. Six months in, the couple founded Funky Mello in December 2017.

Delisa, in an interview with Food Entrepreneur, stated, “Zach and I are vegan, and we had some issues finding sweets we loved and that we could eat with our dietary restrictions. We started with rice crispy treats that we could eat, with artisanal, fun flavors, and then we sold them at farmers markets. We grew from there to creating vegan marshmallows, and now we’re at the cremes. It was a bit of an evolution, but we’ve learned a lot along the way.” Talking of Zach Harper, he graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s degree in Business/Corporate Communications. He began his professional career by working as an Account Manager for Medco Medical Supply – An Epic Health Services Company, for a full year.

Next, Zach became the Pharmaceutical Representative at Quinti before being employed in Pharmaceutical Sales at Touchpoint Solutions. After that, he took on the role of Sales Manager and Sales Specialist for a few months at Freedom Medical and ePac Flexible Packaging, respectively. Meanwhile, in 2017, he founded Funky Mello alongside his partner, Delisa, as mentioned above. As Funky Mello began taking flight, he focused all his attention on making the brand even bigger. The couple went through several milestones with their brainchild, including moving into their facility, hiring a competent team, and launching the products into large retail chains.

Funky Mello Update: Where Are They Now?

On May 19, 2021, Delisa and Zach Harper launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised thousands of dollars to bring their brainchild, Funky Mello, to life. Reportedly, they even got an investment from one institutional investor. Based in Austin, Texas, Funky Mello was one of the finalists in the 10th annual Quest for Texas Best competition which served as a testament to all the hard work that the founders had put in to create and build the brand, especially the plant-based marshmallow creme Dippsterz.

Talking about the future of Funky Mello, Delisa said that their goal is to make it so successful that it would be a household name. She elaborated, “We also want to create enjoyable and meaningful jobs that can take care of as many people as possible for generations. I started this business because I wanted to enjoy food that I otherwise couldn’t because of my food allergies. Creating and sharing an allergen-free product without artificial ingredients that people truly love means that no one is excluded from enjoying our food. All we have to do is make it accessible and spread awareness. So, my wildest dream is to get it there.”

If you are interested in getting your hands on the plant-based marshmallow cremes, you can purchase them online in bundles through the company’s official website. Besides that, Funky Mello’s flagship products are also sold at specialty grocers across the nation, and also at Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market stores.

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