Saint John tea producer's $100K Dragons' Den deal falls through

Saint John tea producer's $100K Dragons' Den deal falls through

A Saint John couple who successfully pitched their tea business on the CBC Dragons' Den episode that aired Thursday night says their $100,000 deal has fallen through because of a previous agreement their investor had.

But Tracy Bell of Millennia Tea says she and her husband Rory are grateful for the experience and publicity and optimistic their future will be steeped in good fortune.

"We feel really good," she said.

The show was recorded in April. At that time, Dragon Jim Treliving agreed to invest $100,000 in exchange for 20 per cent of the company that uses an innovative flash-freezing technique to seal in the nutrients of loose-leaf tea.

The comprehensive due diligence process in the months that followed went "really, really well," and Treliving was "impressed" when they won best new product for innovation at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas in June, said Bell.

At the end of the summer, however, they found out another tea company Treliving was already invested in has a non-compete clause.

That means "if we're seen to be a direct competitor, that they call the deal off," said Bell. "In the end, that was what happened."

"There was a moment of heartbreak, certainly," she said. "In the end though, it's all worked out for the best."

They still own 100 per cent of their company, have the funding they need to expand, and have managed to build a "robust network" to take their business "to the next level," which was what interested them most about partnering with Treliving, she said.

They don't regret turning down Dragon Arlene Dickinson's offer of $100,000 for a 30 per cent share either.

"We have big dreams for this company," said Bell, noting tea is the most-consumed beverage in the world, after water.

"And all market trends will tell you … people drink tea for health and so we think that this business where we were the first to market, we think we have the potential to grow this into something really, really meaningful that has the potential to help a lot of people."