ATB helps Bar Country bring cocktails to the backcountry

July 25, 2018 ATB Financial


​​An idea that solves a problem for a specific target demographic can be a good start for an entrepreneur. When that idea is driven by passion, or two passions, it can set the foundation for a successful business. This was the case for Mat Plamondon and Kole Kuntz, founders of Bar Country.

Successful businesses start with a good idea.

Mat and Kole met in Calgary while working as bartenders. Their passion for great cocktails and the great outdoors brought them together. Most lovers of the outdoors would agree that capping off an outdoor adventure with a great drink is the ultimate reward, but not worth the hassle of carrying the extra weight. After an unsatisfying backcountry cocktail experience, Mat and Kole searched for a lightweight, tasty cocktail mixer they could take with them on their next adventure.

“Other than bringing juice crystals or a powdered drink to mix with liquor, options were very limited, and it’s been a pain for a lot of outdoorsy people,” says Mat. “We were shocked there were no products that appealed to hikers and campers on the market, especially since the cocktail market is booming in North America. So, we decided to make something ourselves!”

Bar Country produces and sells dehydrated premium cocktail mixtures that are small, light, easy to make and taste just as good as a cocktail you’d get at a bar. The mixer comes as a powder—all you have to do is add water and alcohol.

Bar Country starts with ATB BoostR.

“After launching the product in March 2017, most of the feedback we heard was why other people didn’t think of it first!” shares Mat. “The idea and business have been gaining a lot of traction throughout Alberta and ATB has been working right with us since the very beginning.”

Mat and Kole used ATB BoostR, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform that helps small businesses in Alberta raise capital to start their great idea. They received coaching and guidance from experienced advisors, opportunities for exposure and promotion, market insights, resources and, of course, the opportunity to raise money to start their business.

“BoostR has live pitch events where you can pitch your idea and business to a crowd of about 400 people including other entrepreneurs, retailers and marketers,” says Mat. “At the end, everyone votes for the one they like the best and the winner gets part of the ticket sales to use towards their business. We were happy to win!”

ATB X Accelerator takes brand new business to the next level.

From ATB BoostR, Bar Country moved into the ATB X Accelerator program, a business incubator that brings together 20 selected entrepreneurs at a time for 14 weeks. Participants gain mentorship, strategic support, access to network connections and a co-working space.

“ATB X really helped us figure out what we were doing. We had a great idea and were about to launch a product, but they helped us wrap our heads around what the plan of action was, developing a value proposition and identifying our target market,” says Mat.

“The program also connected us with so many other entrepreneurs and that was one of the biggest benefits. Not only did we make business contacts, but we developed friendships. We were able to exchange struggles with groups of people that were going through the same things and those connections still help us today.”

“Throughout this journey, ATB has been very supportive. Even when seeking funding or taking out lines of credit for our business, they’ve been very comprehensive. They sit down with you and look at your plan. Even if you are just in the starting stages of your business, they are willing to grow with you and that has been very helpful to us,” shares Mat.

If you’re hiking, paddling, skiing, fishing or camping, Bar Country makes it easy to enjoy a high-quality cocktail at the end of any outdoor adventure. Whether you want a refreshing coconut-lime margarita, spicy pickled Caesar or would prefer to sip an Old Fashioned, Bar Country can deliver, no matter where you are. Just remember your spirits and water!

Find Bar Country products, including pocket cocktails and mixing gear online or at local retailers including MEC and Cabela’s.


Do you have a great idea for a business? Visit us at an ATB Entrepreneur Centre in Edmonton, Calgary, Grand Prairie or Lethbridge for advice, banking solutions and to connect with business strategy experts, or check our our entrepreneur's guide! We want to help you take that idea and bring it to fruition!

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