After inking a nationwide distribution deal, UCF alumnus and president/founder of O’Dang Hummus Jesse Wolfe ’15 is at the front of Walmart’s latest marketing campaign. The world’s largest retailer signed a 2,552-store agreement to carry Wolfe’s line of hummus-based salad dressings and prominently featured O’Dang Hummus at a regional product showcase Wednesday in Orlando.
The partnership, which spawned from Wolfe’s participation in the retailer’s “Made in the USA” pitch competition, marks the 25th grocery chain to put O’Dang Hummus products on its shelves.
“When you start a business, you dream of being sold in a retailer as incredible as Walmart,” says Wolfe, who graduated with a management degree. “I thought this was 10, 15 years down the road, but this company just turned four years old, and we’re in thousands of Walmart locations across the country.”
Walmart featured O’Dang at its showcase event alongside Spice World Inc., another Orlando-based company, Deliciosas and Titan Products of Puerto Rico. The company’s “Made in the USA” initiative highlights Walmart’s commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion in products made, sourced or grown in the United States by 2023.
“Jesse’s story is just as amazing as his salad dressing and speaks to what can be achieved when we support our local businesses,” says Adriana Pereira-Reyes, senior director of community relations at Walmart. “We are so proud to be investing in American-made products and are happy to be a part of Jesse’s success.”
O’Dang Hummus’ journey to success started at the UCF College of Business in 2013 when Wolfe took third place in the college’s Joust New Venture Competition. In 2015, Wolfe took O’Dang Hummus to ABC’s Shark Tank, where he earned a $50,000 deal from the sharks.
As Wolfe forged new partnerships with different companies, O’Dang steadily ramped up production to stock shelves at more than 5,000 grocery stores in 49 states this year.
“When you start a business by yourself, it is really scary, but the Blackstone LaunchPad at UCF provided a home for my idea; it was somewhere I could always go,” Wolfe says. “The College of Business also provided me with mentors and advisors that I could always lean on and ask questions. The minute I wanted to quit, they were there to coach me along and get me past the roadblock.”
Wolfe says he wants to take O’Dang Hummus to international markets and distribute products to 10,000 grocery stores by the end of 2019. A new product line is also in the works for a planned release in January.
“We’re the fastest-growing salad dressing brand in the United States, and I can’t believe we’ve created this in four years,” Wolfe said. “A lot of it goes back to UCF and the incredible resources offered to me while I was in school.”
Hear more about Wolfe’s startup story in a new episode of the UCF College of Business podcast, “Is This Really a Thing?” The show is available through iTunes, Google Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify or by visiting business.ucf.edu/podcast.