Coffee alternative, drink flavor gains investment, top honors at ‘Will This Float?’ competition
October 17, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
by Dave Flessner
In their many travels across the country, Antonio and Onteaya Tate developed an affection for different flavors of Chai, a type of Indian tea made especially by boiling the tea leaves with milk, sugar and cardamom.
When the couple opened their Green Bean Coffee Co., at 806 East 12th St., in Chattanooga, Antonio Tate said he was eager to develop their own distinctive flavoring for Chai.
“My wife and I travel a ton, and we love Chai, but we couldn’t find a Chai that was truly unique and original, so we decided to try to develop our own,” Tate said Monday night during a pitch of his business.
Mixing ideas acquired from others and his own experimentation, Tate developed a flavoring he said is not too sweet and not too spicey but enlivens a number of different drinks from tea to lattes.
With a $10 price per bottle, Tate’s Cha Cha Masala Chai is now sold at Green Bean and three other area outlets, but the Chattanooga entrepreneur hopes to take his idea around the world and capitalize on the growing Chai market.
Monday night, Tate convinced judges in the Company Lab’s annual startup business pitch he has a winning formula with Cha Cha Masala Chai. Tate was selected as the top prize winner in the “Will This Float?” competition, earning a $5,000 prize to invest in the business along with some extra guidance and meeting space while the business is getting going.
“You can get our product every day at Green Bean Coffee today, but we want to take this global,” Tate said after winning the CO.LAB award following his pitch to nearly 100 attendees at the business pitch competition. “The sky is the limit for us. We hope to work into Whole Foods in this region and grow from there, but I think we have a product that people will really like once they try it.”
Tate said he will use the prize money to buy equipment to boost production of his Chai formula and to get extra label makers to handle what he foresees as growing sales of the product.
Tate’s business idea won during this year’s pitch competition focused on consumer packaged foods in honor of the prime sponsor, Double Cola Co., which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year in Chattanooga.
For the first time, the “Will This Float” competition also featured a pitch competition for business ideas from high school students.
Among dozens of entries, the winning pitch Monday night was awarded to a team of 17- and 18-year-old students for a device they created that will help those suffering panic attacks to remember to breathe properly to relax and overcome the anxiety and panic.
The PTSDon’t Panic invention is a type of alert locket, necklace or watch that will read out steps to help the user calm down and offers sounds to calm the brain. The device was developed and pitched Monday night by Tiffany Lowry, Alexis Webb, LaKayla Jackson and Noah Maynard.
The $69.95 device is activated by simply pushing a button and doesn’t require the costly ongoing subscriptions of other such products. The PTSDon’t Panic necklace or watch is designed to quickly guide the person down from their panic attack. Lowry said the wearable device is designed to help monitor a person’s breathing and aid them in breathing normally again to ease the panic attack.
As the winner of the student competition, the PTSDon’t Panic developers will receive $500 and extra coaching to help turn their idea into a workable business.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.
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