Dough Bar Doughnuts Business is Booming with Healthier Donut Alternative

After appearing on the Shark Tank and landing a $300,000 investment with Barbara Corcoran, an entrepreneurial Californian couple offers a healthier alternative to the average donut

Healthier Donut Alternative

The entrepreneurial Californian couple, Ondrea and Marquez, landed a $300,000 investment in their baked doughnut start-up company after appearing on season 9 of the critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy® Award-winning reality show The Shark Tank.

Speaking exclusively to Scope Weekly about how they came up with their business idea, Ondrea said, “Marquez has always had a hankering for sweets, but learned as a young adult that man could not live by sweets alone! Both he and Ondrea came to value health and fitness as young adults and wanted to find a way to enjoy all of the unhealthy, “bad” treats that health foodies wouldn’t step near. One day he was on the bike at the gym, craving a doughnut and decided to ask Ondrea to join him in making one that could fit in his everyday diet, without the guilt! The Dough Bar concept was born.

For two years the couple strived to build their fledgling business from the ground up. After a lot of hard work and commitment, their initial idea has since led to more than $1.2 million worth of sales for the start-up. The business can also boast a 31% customer return rate, so it’s clear their customers are happy.

Ondrea said, “We definitely saw an incredible amount of growth post Shark Tank. The exposure to such a wide audience was an opportunity we’ll always be extremely grateful to have had. We’ve seen a lot of repeat customers who tried our products for the first time after watching Shark Tank, and that is validation that we are doing something right! At the same time, we’ve learned many valuable lessons after scaling at such a rapid pace. The influx of customers pushed us to be more efficient and accurate entrepreneurs.

Barbara Corcoran – Good people and crazy claims

The Scope Weekly asked Barbara Corcoran what was appealing to her about a food company with a hard to sell premise: healthy doughnuts. She told us, “Marquez & Ondrea were energetic, wildly excited, and believed in their product! I just loved their illogical claim that donuts could be healthy … because it is the opposite of what people think! I know that opposites always stick in people’s minds and are remembered – that’s a marketing advantage! I’m a donut lover myself, Dunkin Donuts’ jelly donuts used to be my favorite, but now I eat Dough Bar doughnuts instead – the apple pie w/ streusel crunch is my favorite. I don’t think healthy donuts are a hard premise to sell because people are looking for healthier alternatives to their favorite foods and The Dough Bar is filling that gap with a great tasting product. I expect to make a lot of money!

So many investors stay away from the food industry while Corcoran certainly seems to have embraced it (see our previous stories about Maine Lobster). We asked her what is the appeal to her and the answer surprised us.  She said,”Most of my most successful companies are in the food business,” adding,

It’s a hard business to compete in, but I’ve learned that people who like to feed other people are typically 100% good-hearted and work hard and that’s a great place to start with a new partnership.

Behind the Dough Bar’s Success

Founded in Hayward, CA, and now located in Tracy, CA, Dough Bar Doughnuts was founded and launched in April 2015 by Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez. They found they were becoming tired of the typical protein bars and health shakes on the market that offered the nutrition they sought but compromised on taste.

After spending lots of time experimenting with healthier doughnut recipe options, they eventually discovered a recipe for a healthier alternative to other types of doughnuts. The result is a baked doughnut that contains 11 grams of protein.

The Dough Bar Doughnuts are baked, not fried. Every ingredient in their recipe is also meticulously measured to ensure health-conscious consumers have a macro-friendly, protein-packed sweet treat to enjoy.

When asked about future expansion plans for their company, Ondrea explained, “We want to expand our brand, to grow and evolve and continue improving upon our product. We believe in constantly achieving more, by experimenting with new methods of production and development. We also want to continue releasing more protein packed products, such as our rice crispy protein bar, The Crispy Bar. The more delicious, delightful products we can supply our health-conscious consumers, the better!

Aside from a strong focus on health awareness and fitness, Marquez and Ondrea are also dedicated to giving back to the community. Every month the couple gives a portion of their monthly Dough Bar sales to non-profit organizations. More specifically, they prefer to donate to organizations with a focus on combating childhood obesity and diabetes.

Appearing on The Shark Tank

The Dough Bar and its healthier doughnut-alternative products have gained national recognition from appearing on reality TV show, The Shark Tank. The episode aired in January 2018.

After hours of relentless rehearsal and practice, Marquez and Ondrea were finally ready to present their pitch to the Sharks. Step one of their plan was to be sure they attracted attention, enlisting the help of a bodybuilder to burst through a brick wall holding a Dough Bar doughnut in one hand.

Step two involved ensuring the Sharks loved the product, by handing out samples of their doughnuts. Within moments, the couple received several offers to invest in their brand.  Former MLB baseball player, Alex Rodriguez struck a deal with fellow-Shark Lori Greiner, offering $400,000 for a 30% stake of the business.

The couple’s presentation also caught the attention of veteran businesswoman and investor Barbara Corcoran. The Shark countered and eventually ended up investing $300,000 for a 20% stake in the health-conscious company.

When asked how working with a Shark has impacted their business, Ondrea said, “Working with Barbara has also been a huge asset to our company, as well as ourselves, as entrepreneurs. Her partnership has inspired us to pursue growing our business in new and interesting ways. Barbara’s infectious energy and willing attitude to “dive in” to the industry we’re creating has given us confidence in our ability to take The Dough Bar to the next level.

Ondrea also said, “Barbara is a brilliant salesperson, and one of the most valuable things she’s taught us is regarding sales. She said, ‘You are your best salesperson and the best representative you’ll ever find for your company. Don’t let that slip away!’”

High Protein, High Sodium?

It’s truly commendable that the owners of the Dough Bar Doughnuts are striving to make healthier, protein-packed baked treats for consumers to enjoy. After all, a baked (not fried!) Bear Claw pastry can pack up to a whopping 539 calories and contain up to 24g in total fats but contains very little protein.

However, the American Heart Association warns that excess sodium in the diet can increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke.

Based on a comparison of the nutritional facts for the baked, unglazed Dough Bar Doughnuts, the fried, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts and the fried, glazed Daylight Donuts, it appears that one plain Dough Bar Doughnut contains approximately 11% of the recommended sodium daily intake amount. (DBD: 260mg/60g=11%DV vs. KK: 85mg/49g=4%DV vs. DD:90mg/45g=4.1%DV *). The website is unclear how the nutritional values change by adding glaze or toppings to a plain doughnut.

*Percent % daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

While Dough Bar doughnuts can be a healthier alternative to the average donut on the market, it’s still important to remember to eat in moderation. If you’re concerned with ingredients, preservatives and potential allergens any type of processed food may contain, read the nutritional information available for each product.

When asked about the sodium content of the product, Ondrea said, “We consider our doughnuts a great alternative to protein bars, as well as fried doughnuts, for many reasons. That said, we completely acknowledge that sodium content is important to a lot of folks, but the majority of our customers are mainly concerned with Fat, Carbs, and Protein. We feel our doughnuts hit the mark on these levels, as reaffirmed by many of our customers.”

Photos courtesy of the Dough Bar company.


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