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Dragons' Den takes to The Green Moustache

But Whistler-based vegan restaurant turned down offer as owners look to the future

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When Whistler's Nicolette and Pierre Richer appeared on Dragons' Den on Feb. 8, they came away with a great offer of investment in their company The Green Moustache.

They went in seeking $350,000 for 15 per cent of the fresh-and-local vegan food company, which was founded in 2013.

Vegan Dragon Manjit Minhas was smitten with their concept, offering them $500,000 for a 25-per-cent stake.

In an interview, Nicolette Richer said the experience was really useful.

She was able to tell the incredulous and impressed Dragons that the company had been in profit from Day 1.

Some heated debate between the Dragons followed, with the more conventional ones having worries about cost margins in using local, organic produce, among other things.

"I loved it. We are a different kind of company," Richer said.

"We're doing something radically different from what most franchise companies are doing. That is part of our brand and our model, getting the healthiest food into people. It's a whole new mindset they have to consider.

"(Manjit) understood us right away, which was great because we went in wanting to get a deal with her," Richer said.

But the Richers ultimately turned Minhas's offer down, at least for the time being.

"We haven't taken a deal (with her)," Richer said.

"It's not off the table... very, very few companies end up getting a deal in the end. It all comes down to whether it's a fit personality-wise and with the product."

The couple appeared on the show along with their daughters Hazel, Jaden and Sadie in the episode, which was filmed in April 2015. She said the girls joined in without hesitation.

"They were really excited," Richer said. "They understood what we were doing, especially my oldest... She was schooling me on how to pitch to the Dragons!"

The family had never watched Dragons' Den before considering auditioning.

"I'd maybe watched one episode. It was really for the marketing opportunity, we could never afford that type of media coverage, being on one of Canada's top-rated shows," Richer said.

"We knew that if we could go on there and talk about our franchise opportunities, it would open up the market in ways we could never afford."

As well, they knew they would want to make contact with investors at some point, so the Dragons' Den was a perfect opportunity to become familiar with that world.

"The past year we've become set in how to pitch to investors. We could go to anyone."

The Green Moustache has grown, with $920,000 in sales in 2015. There are currently four franchises, two in Whistler, one in Squamish and one in Vancouver. The next is due open shortly in Revelstoke.

They are also looking at locating The Green Moustaches in hospitals.

"We're definitely looking more for active partners more than just try and sell a bunch of restaurants. We want people who understand our vision. That food is medicine," Richer said.

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