Bee Free Honee Before Shark Tank
Bee Free Honee is the creation of friends turned entrepreneurs, Melissa Elms and Katie Sanchez. Katie Sanchez, a pastry chef, came up with Bee Free Honee completely by chance when one day while trying to make apple jelly it went wrong and she was left with a honey-like substance. Her mistake made her intrigued that there may be a gap on the market for a honey substitute. And do Bee Free Honee was born! Katie spent four years replicating the original mistake she made on that day her apple jelly went wrong, all the while perfecting her Bee Free Honee.
Melissa and Katie are passionate about buying local produce and use only apples from nearby Michigan to make the Bee Free Honee. Further to that, all the packaging for the finished products comes from Minnesota. Melissa and Kate have managed to create a product that can replace natural honey in any recipe. Bee Free Honee is also a lot cheaper than raw honey and for all the vegan and animal lovers out there, this means good news for the world’s declining bee population.
Katie and Melissa were lucky enough to get their Bee Free Honee on to the shelves of Whole Foods Store and other natural food stores all over the United States. Since developing the product, Katie and Melissa have developed five flavors for customers to choose from: Original, Ancho Chile, Mint, Chocolate and “Slippery Elm”.
Although Bee Free Honee was experiencing success on the market, Katie and Melissa decided they needed additional financial help and business expertise to get the product out on to a broader market. Will Bee Free Honee sweeten up the sharks and bag Katie and Melissa an investment?
Bee Free Honee On Shark Tank
Katie and Melissa introduce themselves to the sharks and explain that they are the owners and operators of Bee Free Honee. Melissa goes on to explain they are looking for an investment of $100,000 in return for a ten per cent equity stake in their company. Katie begins the pitch by telling the sharks that it takes over sixty thousand bees to gather enough nectar for a mere one pound of honey. At Bee Free Honee, the busy bees get to take a rest with this honey free substitute. Melissa goes on to tell the sharks that Bee Free Honee contains one hundred per cent plant ingredients. Katie explains that Bee Free Honee is the only alternative honey on the market made from apples. Melissa then invites them individually try some Bee Free Honee. Will this innovative new food product sweeten the sharks up and bag a deal for Melissa and Katie?
The sharks try the product while Katie talks them through the ingredients – American apples, lemon juice and a tiny bit of vegan cane sugar that helps achieve the thick and gloopy texture of the honey substitute. So far the sharks seem impressed and are in agreement that the product tastes good.
Mr. Wonderful shoes the first signs of skepticism and asks why exactly the world needs a honey substitute? Melissa explains that it helps the ever reducing bee population and provides an alternative to those who opt for a vegan diet.
Daymond explains to the duo that he knows a lot about bees having invested in a bee related company during a previous season of shark tank. He is interested to know how the cost of the honey substitute Melissa and Katie have brought to the shark tank compares to the price of honey. Melissa informs Daymond that for them to produce a unit of Bee Free Honee it costs $1.62 with them selling each unit for $5.99. That means quite a saving in comparison to some of the pure honey products on the market.
Barbara is interested to hear about the sales of the company to date. Melissa explains to Barbara that Bee Free Honee has managed to get into nine out of the eleven regions of Whole Foods. Last year they achieved sales of $78,000 in their first year of sales.
Daymond wants to know why the duo thinks that this company is worth one million dollars. Melissa explains that they have been in contact with Costco and they are working on packaging for a mass roll-out into stores all over the United States.
Barbara wants to know if the $100,000 the duo is looking for is enough to roll out the amount of orders that may potentially come in from the partnership with Costco. Melissa and Katie firmly believe it will be enough money to build them a larger kitchen which will in turn provide them with the facilities they need to mass produce Bee Free Honee.
Special guest shark Chris Sacca informs the duo that he has a few restaurants and is interested to hear how the honey substitute stands up in recipes that use honey. Melissa explains that they will be more competitive in price than natural, organic honey or the same price as cheaper honey brands on the market.
Mark loves the concept of saving the bees but Kevin is clearly not impressed nor convinced. Kevin admits that quite frankly he does not get the whole concept of the product. He asks Katie and Melissa how many years they have been involved in the company. Katie explains that the apple jelly she tried to make back in 1999 failed and Bee Free Honee was the result. Kevin is still not impressed so declares himself out.
Barbara likes the product and likes the cause that goes with it. Both Barbara and Mark think they could advertise the ‘save the bees’ element of the product more. At this point Daymond interjects and says if they amend their packaging to state how many bees are saved and give a small donation to a bee related organisation then he would be happy to offer the $100,000 in return for a twenty-five per cent share in the company.
Guest shark Chris also seems very interested. However, he thinks that Melissa and Katie need more than a $100,000 investment. Chris offers $200,000 for a thirty per cent share of the company and reveals that he is happy to let another shark come on board with him.
Upon hearing this, Daymond makes a revised offer of $100,000 for ten percent stake of the company as well as twenty per cent of the online sales. Barbara also wants in as does Mark. Mark and Barbara begin to talk among themselves and come to the conclusion that both themselves and Chris could make a great team of investors for Bee Free Honee. Mark suggests an offer of $210,000 for a thirty per cent equity share of the company meaning himself, Barbara and Chris would each invest $70,000 and they would each receive a ten per cent equity share. After a moment or two of deliberation in which Daymond reminds both Melissa and Katie that his deal is still on the table, the pair decides that the other deal is too good to refuse. Melissa and Katie agree to the deal with Chris, Barbara and Mark much to their delight. Daymond is clearly disappointed and Kevin is still bewildered that such a product received an investment. However,
Bee Free Honee Now In 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
The deal with Chris, Mark, and Barbara went through and with their help, they were able to continue building and growing the company. For one thing, their investment had allowed them to hire additional staff. Not only that but they had also expanded their production capacity by 600 percent. Around the same time, they also participated in New York’s Fancy Food Show, which gave the company more exposure.
By the end of the year, their products had gotten into Wegmans, Natural Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods Market, Brookshires, and other small retailers. Chris Sacca also included the apple-based honee in his Veggie Grill chain while Mark helped them with their Amazon store. On top of that, their products were also available from their official website.
And for a while, everything was great. Sales were up and customers were happy with the product, with many leaving positive reviews on Amazon. For example, many people praised the product’s texture and flavor as being very similar to honey. The fact that there were different flavors to choose from definitely helped as well.
Like all products, however, it had its downsides. For one thing, it’s much more expensive than real honey at $3.67 per ounce. Not only that but because of the ingredients, it had a strong apple taste, which some people were not a fan of. Some people also wrote that it had a hint of molasses, which sets it apart from actual honey.
Still, the general consensus about the vegan honey was positive. On Amazon, it had a 4.3-star rating out of 155 global reviews.
Unfortunately, their success didn’t last long. The company eventually shut down sometime in 2019; their products have also been pulled from the stores. As of 2023, their website no longer exists (interestingly enough, their old domain has been repurposed into a poker website by a different party). Their social media accounts have also been deleted. If not for their Amazon product listing, which has the item listed as “currently unavailable”, it’s almost as if they never existed at all.
What are Melissa and Katie up to nowadays? According to LinkedIn, Melissa currently works as a National Sales Director at One Frozen, LLC. Prior to that, she worked in sales and marketing at Cynara USA Inc. From 2018 to July 2019, she was also the Director of Sales at Adesso Solutions.
As for Katie, she works in finance at an investment company in the St. Paul Area in Greater Minneapolis (no further details were provided on her LinkedIn page).
Needless to say, we won’t be seeing them on Shark Tank again in the near future; it’s obvious that they’ve moved on to other things.