This post tells the story of the collaboration of two Rhyze Ventures participant entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to combine their products to create a tasty new treat! Mead Caramels.
The Entrepreneurs & Their Collaboration
Sarah Allinson-Chorabik of Ontario Honey Creations is a local beekeeper who produce a variety of products using their honey and is the co-founder of Toronto Bee Rescue. She saw an opportunity when she realized fellow participant Sheri Visakaly of Laura Raes’ Caramels was making caramels using craft beer. “I gave her our mead (honey wine) and she developed the recipe,” Allinson-Chorabik said. “I introduced the caramels in our Valentine’s gift box and they sold out! We also brought them to a farmers’ market and people loved them.”
Sheri Visakaly said although they are very new to the market, she already has two retailers in her area carrying them.
Why Rhyze Ventures
Allinson-Chorabik applied to Rhyze Ventures for the mentorship and networking opportunities. The program has helped her make meaningful connections with other participants and gain valuable business advice. Her project was based on completing their on-farm store, which is scheduled to open in May, as well as focusing on marketing efforts such as provincial roadside signs and online marketing.
Visakaly left the corporate world to explore something more creative, found that she could build a brand that people would enjoy and founded her company in in February 2020. She was missing team interactions and Rhyze Ventures filled the void with mentors and fellow cohort participants. In fact, she has also explored partnership with a previous cohort participant. Her project focused on addressing an opportunity to improve her process by moving from hand-wrapping caramels to an automated wrapper. She just purchased a wrapping machine and she said she wouldn’t have been ready for that step if not for Rhyze Ventures.
The two entrepreneurs shared a business advisor whose help was impactful and, they said, he became their biggest cheerleader. “Tony (Morris) is incredible, he is local, knows agriculture and understands the business side of things,” Allinson-Chorabik said.
“I would never have thought I’d be this far in my business,” said Visakaly.
Prior to COVID both entrepreneurs had focused mostly on direct-to-consumer sales with Ontario Honey Creations leveraging farmers’ markets and holiday fairs. Once the in-person events were cancelled, both businesses focused more on wholesale, online sales and partnerships.