News / Halifax

Former Dalhousie University startup rejects $500,000 Dragons' Den offer for its booze bottle

What would you do if your business were offered $500,000?

The answer probably wouldn’t be turn it down, but that is exactly what Daniel Bartek along with co-founders Cam McDonald and Bobby Besant did on an episode of the CBC show Dragons’ Den that aired Wednesday night.

The trio pitched their company, Sage Mixology, that sells a unique two-in-one bottle design that separates booze from mix to give customers a bar-quality cocktail in the comfort of their own homes.

Audiences watched as Dragon Arlene Dickinson offered the guys half-a-million dollars for 40 per cent ownership of the company, plus threw in a distillery license.

What Canadians didn’t see was the inner deliberations between the co-founders who ultimately decided to reject the offer.

“It just wasn’t the right time for us,” Bartek, a graduate of Dalhousie University, said Thursday.

He said since last April when the episode was taped, their product has had to overcome many of its design challenges in order to be market ready.

Not surprising since the packaging is one-of-a-kind and isn’t operating on any pre-existing standards or models, he added.

Learning as they go has been the company’s style since its early days as a business startup dreamed up by Ontario-natives Bartek and McDonald who were former students in the Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship at Dalhousie University two-and-a-half-years ago.

“Being in a startup and growing so fast (that) at the time it didn’t make that much sense for us,” Bartek said of the rejected deal on Thursday.

“Situations change quite quickly and quite rapidly in this business.”

Although the guys left the Den with empty pockets, they didn’t leave empty handed.

Bartek said the company received that extra push they needed to take their product to the next level and nearly a year later are gearing up for a full launch on Ontario LCBO shelves in May.

“We learn from our mistakes,” said Bartek.

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