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Cairns couple set to take their Paleo food empire to new heights


The Cairns couple behind the national food and cafe sensation Paleo Cafe have secured a $750,000 cash injection after some nerve-wracking negotiations on popular TV show Shark Tank.

Jai and Marlies Hobbs bared their business souls on Channel 10's Shark Tank last night to pitch an ambitious expansion plan to the panel of hard-nosed investors and entrepreneurs.

The couple asked for a $750,000 investment in return for a 10% stake in their Paleo Cafe empire, which now includes 12 cafes and a ready made meal system led by celebrity chef and Paleo diet advocate Pete Evans.

Their pitch valued the company at $7.5 million, but after revealing a 9% decline in last year's store revenue the Shark Tank panel baulked at the proposal.

With just one investor left at the negotiating table, Jai and Marlies faced a life-changing decision.

Boost Juice founder Janine Allis offered to meet their $750,000 funding request - but only if the couple gave up 38% equity in their company, nearly four times more equity than their original offer.

After some tense moments, the two parties finally agreed on the deal.

Marlies and Jai said the deal with Ms Allis was still incredibly attractive given the entrepreneurs global experience in franchising and retail business systems.

Marlies and Jai took a moment back stage to discuss the proposal, Marlies and Jai came back on set and rejected the offer, instead pitching a 25% stake.

Ms Allis rejected their counter-offer, forcing Marlies to make a final plea for 35%. 

After some tense moments, the two parties finally agreed on the deal.

Marlies and Jai said the deal with Ms Allis was incredibly powerful for their company, which gives them access to Boost Juice's global experience in franchising and retail business systems.

Janine Allis said she was looking forward to working with Marlies and Jai to grow their company on an international scale.

"Marlies and Jai have learnt many lessons that comes with running a business and like every business there are ups and downs of which they have had both," she said.

"They were honest and candid during the Shark Tank pitch regarding all the wins that they have had and some of their challenges.

"We share the same beliefs on food, which is about eating as close to the source of nature as possible and the belief of the long-term damage that processed food does to people and society as a whole.

"Both of us are trying to make a difference by making it easier for people to choose healthier options, so it was a great mix.

"I enjoy working with Marlies and Jai and cannot wait to see what the future holds."