A pair of entrepreneurs that will be appearing on Dragons’ Den this week have a Port Alberni connection.
Business partners Justin Atterbury and Steve Kuffler are the owners of Taynton Bay Spirits in Invermere, B.C. Earlier this year, they appeared before the dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den to ask for $125,000 for a seven per cent share of their company. The episode will be airing to the public on Thursday, Nov. 14.
But although the business partners reside in B.C.’s Interior, Atterbury has roots in the Vancouver Island town of Port Alberni.
“I grew up in Port Alberni,” explained Atterbury. “I basically lived there my whole life.”
Atterbury graduated from Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) in 1998 and left a few years later, eventually opening a restaurant and pub. Taynton Bay Spirits started up around two and a half years ago, but the idea is something that Atterbury said started around seven years ago, as he was looking for something to fill an empty space on the ground level of his restaurant, The Station Neighbourhood Pub. This became Taynton Bay Spirits’ tasting room.
Now, two and a half years later, Taynton Bay Spirits are available in 250 stores across B.C.
“It’s growing pretty rapidly,” added Atterbury.
Taynton Bay Spirits has curated a line of 100 per cent all natural infused vodka and gin using loose leaf tea. The spirits are distilled in Invermere using only real ingredients—no artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners.
Atterbury and Kuffler learned of the opportunity for an audition last spring, and after a “surreal” audition experience, they ended up travelling to Toronto to be on the show. Atterbury can’t talk about how the pitch went, but he is encouraging people to tune in and watch the show on Thursday.
“It’s nervewracking, showing a product…and being at the whim of their opinion,” Atterbury laughed.
Although Atterbury has moved away from Port Alberni and made his home in Invermere, he still remains connected to his hometown. His close friend, Ryan Hall, lives in Port Alberni and coaches girls’ rugby at ADSS.
“There are lots of people that he knew in the community that would probably like to have a look at what he’s done and celebrate,” said Hall.
Hall will be holding a private viewing and tasting event with some friends and family to coincide with the Dragons’ Den episode. Half of the proceeds will be going to girls’ rugby in Port Alberni, while the other half will go to the family of an Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) teacher whose granddaughter is battling cancer.
“[Atterbury] does give back to the community, even though he’s not living here anymore,” said Hall.
If you are looking to pick up a sample product in Port Alberni, Taynton Bay Spirits are available at the Liquor Depot on Johnston Road and at Barclay Beer and Wine. You can also purchase them online at tayntonbayspirits.com.
Dragons’ Den airs on Thursday, Nov. 14 on CBC at 6 p.m.