Jill Van Gyn was getting ready for FATSO peanut butter’s screening party of Dragons’ Den when she got the first email.
It was only 5:15 p.m. in Victoria, but the Sept. 27 episode featuring the all-natural peanut butter spread had already started playing on the East Coast of Canada — and suppliers were interested immediately.
“I was really lucky. Just before the episode aired I had hired a staff member, a recent grad from the Royal Roads business school. The timing couldn’t have been better,” Van Gyn, previously the only employee of her company, said.
They got to work instantly, responding to emails and the spike in their online account, adding 20 new retailers across Canada.
“The biggest thing coming out of it has been the lift of the company profile. People are a lot more familiar with the brand, which really was the ultimate goal of going on television,” Van Gyn said.
In the episode, Van Gyn persuaded four dragons to offer a deal with her. She was holding out for Arlene Dickinson, who is known for her experience as a woman in business and for helping new businesses build themselves up. The 30 per cent offer in shares of Van Gyn’s company was just too much.
Although she made a handshake deal on the show, Van Gyn later met to formalize the deal with new numbers. FATSO peanut butter has been evaluated at twice its original amount, and Van Gyn wanted the deal to reflect that. She ultimately walked away. Partnerships still formed, now with local investors offering more money and more support.
“It really worked out well for us,” Van Gyn said.
Now a month later, Van Gyn hasn’t slowed down. As of Oct. 25, FATSO peanut butter will be funded for the next year. In December, FATSO will begin working with a national distributor. In 2022, Van Gyn has plans to spread her business south of the border.
“We’re certainly growing faster than we ever expected, and whenever we think things are going to slow down something else blows up,” she said.
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