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March 29, 2023

Delco-based smoothie vending machines to appear on 'Shark Tank'

Bleni Blends has nearly 20 locations in the Philadelphia region; Wynnewood natives Peter and Stuart Shapiro will be featured in Friday's episode

TV Shark Tank
Bleni Blends Shark Tank Christopher Willard/ABC

Bleni Blends, a Delaware County-based smoothie vending machine company, will pitch on Friday night's episode of ABC's 'Shark Tank,' which airs at 8 p.m.

When Wynnewood natives Peter and Stuart Shapiro set out to create Bleni Blends in 2019, they wanted to dispense ready-to-eat smoothies in just one minute out of a vending machine.

Four years later, the brothers will present their brand on the next episode of ABC's hit reality show "Shark Tank" in the hopes of landing a seasoned investor. Their pitch to Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, Daymond John and guest shark Daniel Lubetzky will be featured in the upcoming episode, which airs at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 31.

Bleni Blends' turquoise vending machines prepare on-demand smoothies in seven flavors with ingredients like strawberries, bananas, mangos, pineapples, spinach, berries, coffee and chocolate. The dairy-free sweet treats are served in 16-oz cups with nutrition facts available before purchase. While prices at some of the vending machines vary, the average price of a Bleni Blends smoothie is $5.50. 

The 12-square foot blending kiosk is slightly larger than a standard vending machine and only requires one electrical plug-in, according to the company's website. All of the vending machines are cashless and accept credit, debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Wallet and some college campus cards as payment. 

The company is largely self-funded, and the brothers told the Philadelphia Business Journal that they're hoping the appearance on "Shark Tank" will elevate their brand and help them land some additional vendors and businesses looking to install the vending machines at airports, college campuses and health care centers. 

Bleni Blends currently operates 17 vending machines throughout the wider Philadelphia region, primarily focused on the area's expansive health care facilities. 

The Shapiros also founded Robotic Desserts in 2016, another unattended vending concept that exclusively sells Reis & Irvy's frozen yogurt. One year after their company launched, the brothers entered into a franchise agreement with the frozen yogurt company to operate kiosks throughout the Philadelphia region, Yahoo Finance reported. 

"We saw it as this huge industry that hasn't really begun yet," Peter told the Business Journal. "We love the unattended space but we didn't like what went into the frozen yogurt machine. There was a lot of refrigeration needed, freezer space, electrical lines." 

The brothers are the latest Philadelphia-area entrepreneurs to present their brand to the sharks in recent years. In 2022, Essex County-based Sunflow, a beach chair company, received a $1 million deal from O'Leary. Banana Loca, a King of Prussia-based company selling banana corers and fillers, took a $250,000 joint deal from Cuban and O'Leary. 

In 2021, Simply Good Jars, a Philly-based pre-packaged salad start-up, took a $500,000 deal from Greiner and Cuban. That same year, "Shark Tank" judges bought a 30% stake in Philly-based apparel brand KIN and offered up a deal to Trey Brown, the teenage owner of sportswear brand Spergo

The Shapiros will appear in Friday night's episode of "Shark Tank," which begins at 8 p.m. on ABC. The brothers will host a watch party at the Haverford Area YMCA, located at 891 N. Eagle Road in Havertown, beginning at 7 p.m.