We know that the panel on Dragon’s Den have all made some serious dollar. But what about all those hopefuls who peddled their wares in front of the judges hoping for a wad of cash in return for a slice of their company?
From the innovative and truly unique to the downright dreadful inventions exhibited on the show, Canadians tune in week after week to see what prospective entrepreneurs have to showcase.
But who really went the distance and made big bucks once they were snapped up by the Dragons’ deals?
Just because they were turned down on air doesn’t mean they were doomed for a life of failure, by the way. Plenty of contestants on Dragons’ Den who could not broker a deal or found that their contracts simply fell apart behind the scenes went on to have huge success in their industries.
Here are some of the most successful businesses from the TV show…
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Patricia & Nadia Macri came onto the show to sell a pair of shoes in a variety of ways, with a luxury brand of shoewear accessories. Although initially impressed with their designs, they were less wowed by the sisters’ math skills as they scrambled and fudged the numbers to answer questions from the Dragons. Arlene came to their aid, giving the requested $60k for a third of the business – so long as she could take control of the company.
Hatem & Tonia Jahshan came to the Den to broker a deal for their in-home tea parties. After finding Cream of Earl Grey while travelling, Tonia’s parties with friends quickly branched into selling tea kits to consultants. After making over $1 million, they looked to the Dragons to help them enter the U.S. market. Four of the panellists put in offers, but the couple accepted David and Jim’s offer of $250k for 20 per cent. They increased sales by 10-fold and made it into PROFIT 500’s list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies in 2014.
Dig It Handwear
Fed up with having green fingers and nails after gardening, long-time friends Wendy Johannson and Claudia Harvey from Toronto created a glove that protects women’s manicured hands. Deemed by some of the Dragons as simply too niche, it left just Jim and Kevin to enter into a fierce sparring match. The ladies accepted Kevin’s offer of $50k for 10 per cent with three per cent royalties (which he later dropped) and now stock their gloves (and other products) in stores like Lowe’s, Canadian Tire and Home Depot.
Four high-energy entrepreneurs from Mississauaga starred on the Valentine’s Day edition of the show, pitching their caffeine-enriched chocolate bars to the panel. With the taste of milk chocolate and the pick-me up of an energy drink, it was pitched to the Dragons as “Kit-Kat meets Red Bull.” Almost all were interested but they eventually agreed on a royalty deal with Kevin and David. The company have seen $2 million of growth in sales since the show.
A mother of five came up with a solution to the age-old domestic dilemma, where is my other sock? By affixing snappers to kids socks so that they never get lost in the wash, Corla Rokochy from Saskatchewan managed to bag herself a $50,000 loan from Arlene and Brent despite not having any manufacturers at the time. Fast forward to today and she’s selling in Toys ‘R’ Us and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Larry Finnson and Chris Emery, former creators of Clodhoppers, tickled the Dragons taste buds. The pair hoped to make the money they lost out on from their previous company, which was sold, through chocolatey graham wafer clusters mixed with gourmet nuts and toffee bits. Arlene Dickenson offered them $250,000 for a 50 per cent equity and the treats are now sold across the U.S. and Canada.
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY…
And just because Dragon’s said “I’m out” or failed to honour their deals off-air, it doesn’t mean contestants didn’t go on to find success elsewhere. These few went onto bigger (and often better) things after going it alone.
The Ottawa-based cosmetics company purveyed it’s 6-in-1 beauty solution with mineral based products and one multi-functioning shade for everybody. Andi Marcus showed some real sass, informing Kevin, “Oh I have some sale, darling” when he questioned her valuation. Despite reaching a deal with Brett on the show, it was never finalized. The products can be found online and in hundreds of stores across Canada, including Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall.
Probably the most successful duo to ever grace Dragons Den, Brian and Collin Mullins started making products to combat allergies. The gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan breakfast cereal caught attention with its unique name, Holy Crap. Jim Treliving was so taken with it he offered “whatever you want” for a deal. The deal ultimately broke when they realized it would mean leaving their Sechelt, B.C. home, but they went on to find huge success. By 2014 it was reportedly set to make $20 million and astronaut Chris Hadfield famously ate a single-serve cup aboard the International Space Station.
Greg Bay from Abbotsford, B.C. offered a solution to core injuries with his very tight core shorts. But after asking for a whopping $500k in return for a measly 15 per cent share, he was left with his pants around his ankles (after stripping down to reveal the garments) and no offers. But Bay ultimately triumphed when Under Armour subsequently took over the manufacturing, now selling the shorts to NBA, NHL and NBA players.
Group IV Solar
The solar power company wanted to make a Canada global leader in sustainable development, but Kevin O’Leary said he saw “a lot of money wasted.” Casting aspersions on his business model, the Dragons all turned down Michael Zimmerman’s request for $300k and he left empty-handed. Today he has a fully functioning solar farm that provides enough power to fuel 100,000 homes. Dragon Bruce Croxton visited the farm in an update special and called him “the one that got away.”