One fateful afternoon, I received an email from a producer from CBC asking if Custom Car Posters would be interested applying for the upcoming season of Dragons’ Den. I had previously dreamed of being on the show and used to watch it religiously for the first few seasons. Despite this, I had never thought of applying for our business, Custom Car Posters. I had always thought of the business as a lifestyle business and not something that I would want to take outside investment for. I figured if I was ever on Dragons’ Den it would be with another business ideas I have in store for the future.
After a bit of brief research, I quickly determined that it looked like they were short on applicants for the current season due to COVID. The initial application deadline had passed and yet they were still accepting new applications. Luckily the application was online this year. Previously, you had to line up American Idol style, which would have deterred me. Determining that my chances for success were fairly high and the barriers to entry low, I decided to whip together a quick application video and had submitted it within 24 hours.
In the video, I decided to keep it short, but also add a little more random flair to keep things a little more interesting. You will see that I used a globe as a prop, just so I could spin it for effect. Admittedly it was a little lame, but it got the job done!
As you can see, the pitch was not bad, but by no means perfect. Given that time was of the essence, I opted for speed versus quality and the results paid off. Within 2 days, I had received a reply that I would have follow up zoom audition!
The zoom audition followed a week later which gave me time to prepare. During that time, I watched several episodes of Dragon’s Den and took notes on the pitches. I put together a script as well as a list of answers to common questions and spent a day rehearsing. I didn’t have time to fully memorize my pitch, so I ended up printing it out in really large font and sticking it on the wall directly behind the webcam and took full advantage of the remote pitch environment!
The audition started with some background information on the audition process and then I had the floor to do my pitch. The pitch went smoothly and next came the questions to just like on the show. I anticipated the worst and prepared for the tough questions, but the producer mostly seemed interested in simply finding out more about the business. A few of the questions were financial questions and I put my CPA to good use. The audition concluded and I was told I would hear back in a week or so.
Thankfully, 3 days later I received an email to schedule a second follow up audition. Again, I took a day to prepare anticipating that the hard questions would follow. In the end, it turned out not to be a second interview, but a surprise call to let me know that I would be on the show and to figure out details! We talked about some logistics and they gave me the option to fly out to Toronto or film remotely via CBC Vancouver. Given that travel cost and accommodation would not be covered and COVID testing would be required with no guarantee of being on the show.
I opted to pitch remotely from Vancouver. I really wanted to go into the Den and meet the Dragon in person, but as COVID was also on the rise during this time, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
Thanks to a little luck, some hard work, and improvisation I got my chance to appear Dragons’ Den. This article is part of a 4-part series on my experience appearing on Dragon’s Den and getting a $250,000 deal.
In Part 2, I will discuss how I prepared to be on Dragons’ Den and how I got ready to make the $250,000 deal.