The Canadian Barley Tea Company founders Janice Ishizaka and Cilla Watkins competed in this season of CBC’s Dragon’s Den. (Contributed)

The Canadian Barley Tea Company founders Janice Ishizaka and Cilla Watkins competed in this season of CBC’s Dragon’s Den. (Contributed)

Slaying Dragons earns Shuswap sisters deal but no TV spot

Canadian Barley Tea Company founders share Dragon’s Den experience

After slaying it in the Dragon’s Den, sisters Janice Ishizaka and Cilla Watkins, founders of the Canadian Barley Tea Company, are looking to expand distribution in B.C.

Over the summer, Ishizaka, who lives in Japan, and Watkins, who resides in the Shuswap, were given the opportunity to make a pitch to the Dragons of the CBC television series, with the hope of making a deal and bringing on a partner whose entrepreneurial influence could help make the Canadian Barley Tea Company’s product, mo’mugi (named after mugicha, a popular Japanese drink), a household name.

Ishizaka, originally from Salmon Arm, created a video to complement Watkin’s in-person presentation.

“I said, ‘Hi Dragons, my name is Cilla Watkins, I’m from beautiful Salmon Arm, British Columbia, and I’m here to ask you for $40,000 for 15 per cent of our company,” said Watkins, setting the scene. “Then I paused and said, ‘Who would like to try mo’mugi both hot and cold.’”

When it came time for the Dragons (Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, Lane Merrifield, Manjit Minhas, Michele Romanow and Vincenzo Guzzo) to taste mo’mugi, the sister’s received what may have been one of the quickest deal offers in the show’s history.

Treliving was quick to rave about the tea and, after a brief discussion among the Dragons regarding financials, was ready to make an offer.

“He was like, ‘I know a good thing and I want to make a deal. So we made the fastest deal in Dragon’s Den history in six minutes,” said Watkins. “That’s how that played out.

“And then I was stunned. I felt like I wanted to drag it on because I wanted to be on TV, I wanted an episode, but the deal was there and if you watch the show, you realize you take the deal when they offer it to you or they cancel it.”

During the talk about financials, Merrifield noted his own Salmon Arm connection.

“Lane said, ‘I don’t know if you know, I’m a pilot and I fly into the Salmon Arm airport frequently. So I’m very familiar with Salmon Arm,’” said Watkins. Lane then asked about the local business accelerator program Watkins successfully competed in, Launch-a-Preneur. “He said, oh yes, I’m familiar with that.”

All but one of the Dragons (Minhas who, due to a mishap on set, received over-steeped tea to taste) spoke favourably of mo’mugi, but because Treliving offered what the sisters had asked for, they left it at that.

This good news was followed by surprise and some disappointment when Ishizaka and Watkins learned their successful, deal-earning pitch wasn’t going to be aired on TV, or even make it to the Dragon’s Den website. However, the experience still opened doors and the sisters still got the deal, which they hope to take advantage of once they reach a point where the money they’re making isn’t just going back into the company. Currently, the sisters are looking forward to working with a distributor in the Lower Mainland with the plan to get mo’mugi on store shelves across B.C.

“We’re focused on being a successful company and growing, but of course that takes time,” said Ishizaka. “We’re hoping the (Salmon Arm) Food Hub opening in March hopefully, if we get in there, will reduce our rent… and then we can make more money quickly and increase or distribution and go across B.C., get bigger and bigger and then give Jim a call. I guess we’ll see how it goes from there.”

For more information about mo’mugi, visit the Canadian Barley Tea Company or Facebook or at canadianbarleytea.com.

Read more: Pitch perfect: Entrepreneurs behind Shuswap product reveal pathway to the Dragon’s Den

Read more: Sisters bring Japanese tea experience to Salmon Arm

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Dragon's Den

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison appointed to parliamentary national security committee

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian one of five candidates appointed to national security committee

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Hot and cold water have different pouring sounds

Your morning start for Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

BC Timber Sales near Revelstoke is one of two programs to be randomly audited this year. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke area BC Timber Sales to be randomly audited

The agency will be investigated by the Forest Practices Board during the week of June 21

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Old growth in the Columbia Valley, in the Kinbasket area. (Photo submitted)
Wildsight: Old-growth forests are being logged in Golden

Wildsight says that Canfor has been logging old growth at the Blaeberry headwaters

MAKING MUSIC
The Dixie Fried Hep Katz recorded a promotional video at the Kettle Valley Steam Railway station featuring the railway’s steam locomotive. The young band from Enderby plays Canadian Rockabilly, with Porter Johnson, 20, writing, lead guitarist and vocals; sister Kyndra on drums; and Logan Bannick on bass. The band is using the locomotive to promote their song Spooky Train and help shed light on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway’s drive for donations. (Tom Burley photo)
Donations help with repairs of Summerland steam railway

Kettle Valley Steam Railway put out earlier call for railway ties, tires for locomotive

Elias Carmichael #14 and Ethan Ernst #19 of the Kelowna Rockets check Gage Goncalves #39 of the Everett Silvertips during a game at Prospera Place on February 28, 2020, in Kelowna. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
Fans expected to be back in the stands for Kelowna Rockets 2021-22 season

The Rockets haven’t played in front of a crowd since March 2020

Most Read