Bee Free Honee is a company that offers a vegan substitute for honey, using organic apples to create a product that is quite similar to honey in terms of quality and taste. The product is handmade, and is prepared by the two female owners of the business.
Bee Free Honee can be used pretty much anywhere where you would traditionally use honey, including oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and hot drinks. The product is available in a range of varieties, ranging from creamy chocolate to spicier types.
Bee Free Honee aims to save bees and, by extension, the entire ecosystem. The honey alternative that the business offers not only harms any living creatures, but, unlike conventional honey, can be produced throughout the year. Hence, Bee Free Honee would be quite attractive to anyone who wants to try out something new while also benefiting the environment. In addition, the product is quite inexpensive when compared to normal honey.
Bee Free Honee was co-founded by Katie Sanchez and Melissa Elms, and was actually the result of an unfortunate error. Katie used to work as a pastry chef and, one day, while trying to prepare apple jam, she forgot to take the jelly out and left it in the container overnight, and ended up producing a unique, honey-like item.
She decided to explore this ‘error’ further, and see if the material that she accidentally came up with might actually serve as an alternative to honey. Soon after, she joined hands with her friend Katie Sanchez, and the two of them came up with the idea for Bee Free Honee.
The founders want to help bolster the local economy, which is why they have made it their aim to only use locally-grown apples for all their products. In addition, all the packaging used for the products is also produced in Minnesota.
Is Bee Free Honee still an Active Business?
No, Bee Free Business is not operational anymore; the business shut down permanently – and, to be honest, quite abruptly – in 2019.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Melissa and Katie made their Shark Tank appearance during the seventh season of the show. They were seeking a $100,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in Bee Free Honee – a valuation of $1 million.
They started their pitch, talking about how just a single pound of honey requires more than 60,000 bees and that, at the moment, Bee Free Honee was the only substitute out there.
Katie explains that they use lemon and apple juices as preservatives, while cane sugar is used to add the honey-like sweetness. She distributes the product samples, and the Sharks seemed quite impressive with what they were seeing.
Kevin tries to probe further into the reason behind creating this product, to which the owners replied that Bee Free Honee is particularly appealing to the vegan population. Daymond wanted to know how the product stacked up against honey, in terms of price.
The owners replied that a single Bee Free Honee bottle costs around $1.60 to manufacture, and is sold for less than $6; a similar-size bottle of honey will cost, on average, upwards of $10.
Katie and Melissa then tell the panel that they have generated $104,000 in sales so far, out of which $78,000 was during the most recent financial yaer. In addition, Bee Free Honee is present in 9 out of the 11 Whole Food regions.
The Sharks wanted to know the reason behind the million-dollar valuation. Melissa responds, saying that they have signed a deal with Costco, and have arranged for a bulk order to be distributed throughout the country. To be able to fulfill this bulk order, the business would need a larger kitchen, which is where the Shark Tank investment would go.
Mark and Barbara both like the product, and the former feels that promoting the product with the ‘saving bees’ narrative could make Bee Free Honee a $100 million business.
Daymond was the first to make an offer, and was willing to give the $100,000 in exchange for a 25% stake in the company.
The guest Shark, Chris Sacca, was also very interested in the product and business, but felt that a $100,000 investment would not be sufficient. Hence, he offered to give Katie and Melissa $200,000 in return for 30% equity.
Daymond said that he can match this offer, or he can give $100,000 for 15% – either way, the valuation of the company would stay the same. He also had a third offer: $100,000 for 10% equity, plus a 20% stake in the online sales segment.
Mark and Barbara were having quite an intense discussion, at the end of which they concluded that the two of them, along with Chris Sacca, could be an excellent trio for Bee Free Honee.
Mark spelled out the offer, which was: $210,000 in exchange for 30% equity in the company (each Shark would invest $70,000, and receive a 10% stake). After a brief discussion, the ladies decided to go for the three-Shark deal.
Our Review of Bee Free Honee
When it comes to products like Bee Free Honee, the key question is – how does it stack up against real honey? Bee Free Honee comes quite close in terms of the thickness and texture, but the same cannot be said about the flavor.
Now, this is not to say that the honey is not delicious – it most definitely is, but it tastes more like apple-flavored honey than the conventional type that we are so used to consuming.
Pros of Bee Free Honee
- Made using organic apples
- No living creatures are harmed
- Cheaper and more accessible than conventional honey
Cons of Bee Free Honee
- The taste is somewhat different to that of regular honey
Our Final Thoughts
Bee Free Honee’s noble objective, unique idea, and rapid success attracted a great deal of media attention. Despite managing to bring three Sharks on board, the company failed to survive and shut down in 2019, leaving its loyal fan-base quite baffled and devastated.