A Longmont family business pitched their products to an international audience last week in an episode of TV series “Shark Tank.”
Kendra Bennett of Honey Bunchie LLC, which sells handmade snack bars, took to the stage in the hopes of swaying investors. Although she walked away without celebrity investments, the company – which is 50% woman-owned and 50% veteran-owned – succeeded in catching the eye of viewers.
When the episode aired on Friday, their family gathered to watch it, monitoring their online traffic all the while. At its peak, under 10,000 people clicked on their website at one time, with orders flying in.
“We were able to watch in real time the effect of ‘Shark Tank,’ and it was unbelievable,” Bennett said. “We were jumping up and down, screaming.”
Their team is quickly growing, as 1,200 locations – predominantly in Colorado – sell Honey Bunchies. Popular retailers include Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, King Soopers and City Market.
Right now, 7-Eleven is testing their products in a few Dallas stores, and an opportunity with Kroger is in the works. The brand is transitioning to a new name – Bon Bee Honey – but the product will remain the same.
For Bennett, this positive momentum is welcome news for her family after years of work.
“We’re totally self-funded,” Bennett said Tuesday. “We bootstrapped the entire way.”
The origin story of the business dates back to 2010 when Bennett’s dad, Ed Payne, took to the kitchen to recreate a snack recipe by his wife, Jennifer. Although it never tasted quite like the original, Payne instead made Honey Bunchies, with the food product and company both named after his nickname for his spouse.
Bennett described the taste as “a perfect salty-sweet combination.” Almost half of the bar is made up of honey, mixed with nuts and sunflower kernels. They make two flavors: peanut-pecan and coconut-almond.
The company’s launch date falls on the couple’s wedding anniversary, and its packaging stems from a childhood drawing by Bennett.
Whole Foods stocked their shelves with the snack bars when the family first pushed their product to market. Bennett described their business approach as “guerrilla marketing.”
“We walked the streets with coolers – up and down Pearl Street, up and down Longmont,” she said. “Anybody that had a register, we were knocking on their door, asking if they would sell Honey Bunchies.”
Over recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation delivered the company a one-two punch.
But in February 2022, Bennett noticed a suggestion for a LinkedIn connection: a Shark Tank casting producer. She pitched her family’s company, and after a 14-month application process, they ended up filming in September.
Bennett hopes the TV series will follow-up with the business – and that her parents can eventually retire.
“My parting words to the sharks were that I thought they would regret their decision to not invest in us,” Bennett said. “And I really, truly believe that. I know what our company can do.”