Kelvin Natural Slush Co. (Photo: Wally Gobetz via Flickr)
Two former real estate associates at Sidley Austin in New York appeared Tuesday night on CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer,” a reality television show that features billionaire Tilman Fertitta evaluate business proposals from small business owners.
Unfortunately, Alexander Rein and Zachary “Zack” Silverman, the two ex-Sidley entrepreneurs behind Brooklyn, New York-based Kelvin Natural Slush Co., didn’t get a deal with Fertitta. The show’s host serves as chairman, CEO and sole owner of Houston-based Landry’s Inc., one of the nation’s largest restaurant companies.
In its promotional video for Tuesday night’s show, CNBC calls Kelvin Slush an “organic frozen syrup company whose costly syrups have them on the verge of melting down.” Neither Rein nor Silverman returned requests for comment about their appearance on the reality show.
Rein and Silverman are both passionate about Kelvin Slush, which emerged in 2010 after Rein was reportedly laid off at Sidley, which like many big firms in 2009 culled at least 89 associates from its ranks in order to cope with the abrupt economic recession. Silverman, whose profile on professional networking site LinkedIn shows he left Sidley in July 2012, joined Rein as a co-founder of Kelvin Slush that year. (Arnold & Porter has handled trademark work for the startup company, whose clients include New York’s Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Smorgasburg.)
Kelvin Slush, which touts itself as the maker of the only organic frozen drink mix, had started to take off by 2012, expanding from a food truck serving organic slushies into a national wholesale business. Many, if not most, of the company’s customers have taken to mixing Kelvin Slush’s various products with alcohol to make mixed drinks like the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, F’rosé and Moscow Mule.
But in recent years, Kelvin Slush has hit some speedbumps in its quest for financial success. At one point in Tuesday night’s airing, Rein, speaking to the camera, admitted that one of his regrets in starting a business that has paid him and Silverman no salary in recent years was giving up a steady paycheck. “Billion Dollar Buyer” focuses on the cost it takes to make a frozen drink with Kelvin Slush’s product, which is double what Fertitta pays for his restaurants.
Fertitta, whose distant cousins Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III recently sold the Ultimate Fighting Championship to a handful of private buyers in a $4 billion deal last summer, ultimately walks away from signing a contact with Rein and Silverman to supply 900 cases of Kelvin Slush products to 19 locations for Mitchell’s Fish Market, which Landry’s bought for $10 million in 2014. (While precise financial terms on the potential transaction between Fertitta and Kelvin Slush were not disclosed, “Billion Dollar Buyer” notes that Rein and Silverman lost $160,000 during a recent operating year.)
After Fertitta wishes the Kelvin Slush co-founders luck in their efforts to build a business—the billionaire ends up doing a deal on the show with another small company in New Jersey’s Real Antique Wood—both lawyers address the camera about their future plans. Silverman is circumspect about Kelvin Slush’s ability to survive.
“We’re gonna have to do a lot of soul searching and figure out if we can afford to operate this business,” he said. Rein, the first lawyer in the door at Kelvin Slush, added that the company he started is going to “keep working hard and keep working at it.”
But even if Kelvin Slush doesn’t make it, Silverman could have another product to fall back on. The Canadian is a co-founder of Vancouver-based Walter Craft Caesar Mix. Last year the company appeared on “Dragon’s Den,” a reality TV show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.