October 13, 2017

Strongbody Apparel and Team Inside Dragon's Den

 

Should you audition for Dragon’s Den?

For many years, as far back as late 2012 all of our friends and family told us that we should audition for Dragons' Den. We were both fans of the show and knew that Dragons' Den could provide us with positive publicity as well as the possibility that a bad review could hurt our brand.  Not wanting to take the chance, we ruled out the idea of auditioning for the show until we were 100% ready. Fast forward to 2017 and everything had changed. We kicked off the year with a successful Kickstarter Campaign that was over 995% funded. With sales and distribution growing, we felt that now would be a good time to audition for the show. What could the Dragons possibly say at this point that would hurt us? We had a great product, great sales numbers and our distribution and marketing was pretty good. We applied online but after reading numerous blog posts we realized the best chance we had of auditioning was to go and pitch in person to the producers while they were in Vancouver.

Preparing for your Dragons' Den Audition

We had 5 days to prepare for the audition. The first thing we did was google “How to prepare for Dragons' Den”. Luckily we found lots of valuable information. Every night for the next 5 days we would watch Dragons' Den episodes. While watching each episode we took notice of what types of business’s and styles of pitches got deals and which ones did not. From this, we extracted a formula for success.

Formula for success on Dragons' Den 

  1. Know your value proposition and tell your brands story in an exciting and interesting way.
  2. Make yourself an expert in your industry and explain how you are solving a problem.
  3. Know your financials, your margins, projections, burn rate and sales history.
  4. How will you scale the business? What will the investment be used for? Where and how will you spend the investment? How long will the investment last before you need another investment? How will the Dragon’s make money?
  5. What is your companie's exit strategy?
  6. YOU MUST HAVE ENERGY, ENTHUSIASM & PASSION

We wrote down every single possible question the Dragons might ask us while in the den. After coming up with suitable answers for each question, we role played. Taking turns, one of us would pretend to be a Dragon and ask the other a difficult question . This process went on day after day after day.

Opening statement for your pitch

This is the most important part of the entire pitch, if you get this wrong it can have disastrous consequences. If you fail to excite your audience within a few seconds of your pitch, get ready to be picked apart. We knew we needed a strong opening, it had to have energy, enthusiasm and we needed to show our passion for the business. We took a hard look at our business and our brand.We came up with a 30 second introduction that summed up who we are, what our product was and who it was for.

Our Dragons' Den Audition

When we arrived at the Vancouver hotel that was hosting the Dragons' Den audition there we’re quite a few people sitting in chairs waiting to pitch. There were producers at various d stations around the room that had people pitching their business. Two people greeted us at the entrance and asked us to sign in, they told us to grab a seat and that someone would call us when it was our turn to present. We waited about 45 minutes before our name was called. Feeling a little nervous we walked over to the producers table. They didn’t seem too interested in us at first as we didn’t have any props, it was just us! After asking us for our names and the name of our business, they wanted us to tell them about our business. Within the first five seconds of our pitch the producers stopped looking at their computers and looked up at us. Their eyes lit up and you could tell they we’re curious and we had captured their interest. Our pitch ended, we made small talk with the producers and answered a few more questions. We were told that once they finish travelling and completing all of the auditions they would decide who would get to pitch their business in front of the Dragons in the den.

 A month later, while in Maui for our wedding, we received a call from CBC. They gave us the good news that we had been selected to do a taping for Dragons' Den. We were also told to come to Toronto for select dates and that we should be aware that even though we would be filming an episode that not all episodes make it to air. We decided we should see this  experience through so we booked our flights to Toronto.

The Day Before Filming Dragons' Den

Upon arriving in Toronto we heading to The Fairmont Royal York where all of the Dragons' Den pitchers were staying . No matter where we went that day we continued to practice our lines and test each other. We didn’t get much sleep that night as we were extremely excited for our filming and unfortunately our neighbours were a little loud.

 

We arrived at CBC and our models were already there waiting for us. There were  a ton of people waiting in the lobby, a producer came down and handed out non discloser agreements for all of the pitchers and their team members to sign, after we signed we we’re taken upstairs to the studio. We were told that they didn't have an order as to who would pitch and that we may have to stay the entire day. After waiting about 2 hours, our producer told us we could go to another room and wait for our turn to pitch. We we’re taken into a separate holding area with one other man, he didn’t speak English very well and kept to himself. Bored and tired, I thought we should keep our energy up and play charades. So we split into two teams and played the game, it was super silly and absolutely hilarious. It helped us pass the time, about an hour later our producer came and asked us if we we’re ready. We said absolutely, she asked us if we wanted to practice our pitch with her and we agreed. We ran through our pitch once with her and answered her questions, the next thing we knew we we’re called into the Den.

Filming our Dragon’s Den Episode

Light’s, Camera, Action!

We began to run our lines, while looking from one Dragon to another. We finished our lines and qued the models. One of the models thought it would be entertaining to dance. This was not planned but it actually  got the Dragon’s attention. The models then stood beside us and the questioning began and at times it went silent for a long time. Finally, Arlene spoke, "I am just thinking of what to do, I missed out on SAXX and Knixwear and I think this is going to be big. Joe, what are you doing?" Joe: "I'm thinking" He said. Then Michele said she would go first, she said she wasn’t the right investor for us and bowed out. We had 4 Dragon’s left. Then Joe spoke, he made us an offer. Then Arlene spoke and said she would do the same offer on her own and then Manjit offered us something different $200,000 for 25%. It was now Jim’s turn, he quickly bowed out saying we had 3 good offers on the table. We asked them if we could go and talk in the back room, Arlene quickly spoke up and said no you need to decide right now. Meghan whispered in my ear “I want Joe” so  I said "Joe, we would like to shake your hand". Joe got up, walked over to us, shook our hand and that was it. The producers were also raving with excitement, this was the first time in Dragons' Den history that Joe had made an offer on a clothing company. We were pulled aside and asked to do a separate interview. Our producer told us that Joe would be given all  of our information from the producers and would be in contact with us.

You can watching the episode here. http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/pitches/strongbody-apparel

Jim Treliving takes a look at Strongbody Apparel

 

Manjeet Minhas looks at Strongbody Apparel


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