The Constandinou family will showcase their popular Ninette’s Ice Cream tonight on Dragons Den at 8 p.m. on CBC
© Chronicle photo courtesy of Nick Constandinou
Ninette’s Ice Cream is sold around 120 stores in Quebec, but the Constandinou family is looking to expand its operations to Toronto, and eventually the world.
Nick Constandinou never imagined an old ice cream machine he bought his wife Ninette would be the source of inspiration 34 years later for the Kirkland start-up, Ninette’s Ice Cream.
In 2012, Ninette’s was launched in several on-island grocery chains. A year later, the Kirkland couple and their seven children were on the set of Dragons Den, pitching Ninette’s Ice Cream –with the hope of expanding to Ontario and the rest of Canada.
When asked if he’d ever imagined pitching a business to five of Canada’s wealthiest people, Constandinou replied: “Not in my wildest dreams. Everybody took time off work. We all went together. It was awesome.”
Going into last April’s taping of the popular Canadian show, which will air tonight at 8 p.m., the Constandinou’ were well-acquainted with the Dragons’ non-affinity for poorly pitched business plans – making sure to impress the likes of venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary and Boston Pizza co-owner Jim Treliving with a reasonable investment demand.
“They were quite fair with us. Once you face them, you just lose everything no matter how hard you’ve worked for that moment. It was an awesome experience but very nerve wracking,” said Constandinou.
Following decades of producing unique and flavourful ice cream spins on homemade classics like apple pie and gingerbread cookies only for her childrens’ consumption, Ninette finally took the big step in showcasing her product at a 2010 international food and beverage trade show in Montreal.
To say Ninette’s Basil Lemon flavoured ice cream was well received would be an understatement. The stay-at-home mom, with the help of her husband Nick and her children, soon began working other flavours like raspberry truffle and apple pie.
“I got to hand it to her. She’s done a hell of a job on all these products. The kids have been number one with us. They encouraged her to do it. More importantly this venture brought the whole family together and we came up with something everybody enjoys,” said Constandinou.
Today, Ninette’s is produced in a Peterborough, Ont. manufacturing plant, which currently delivers five uniquely-flavoured ice cream-filled tubs to 120 grocery stores across Quebec and a few others in Ottawa. The family is now looking ahead and plans to expand its base across Canada and the world.
For more information, visit www.ninettes.ca.