10 Montreal Companies Who Made It On Dragons' Den (Vol.2)
There are a select few moments in an entrepreneur's career that can be described as a "once in a lifetime opportunity." But to any and all business-owners in Canada, getting the chance to dive into the Dragons' Den would definitely fit into the category.
Able to present one's idea to some of the nation's most successful business women and men, a deal made with a Dragon can almost secure success, which is why so many Canadian entrepreneurs apply to be on the program. Only a select few actually make it into the den, however, and more than a few Montrealers have made the cut.
Update: At the very bottom, see how Dragon's Den generously shared this article!
To celebrate the Montrealers who had the guts to duke it out with the Dragons, many of whom managed to secure a lucrative deal, we've assembled another list of Montreal companies who made it into the den.
This time around, we tried to focus on businesses that appeared in more recent seasons, while also giving credit to those our readers pointed were absent from the first volume. Check out the entrepreneurs that represented the city below.
Unhappy with the current make and model of wine cellars, which are clunky and aesthetically unpleasing, Mathieu Desjardins and Claude Pinet joined forces to create and market the Renoir by ZeroNext. Designed to be equal parts fashionable and functional, the Renoir is a silent and eco-friendly wine cellar made to look like a piece of art.
The Dragons were immediately impressed by ZeroNext's Renoir model wine cellar, noting how it is an entirely new approach to the wine cellar market, an industry that has seen little innovation. And that sentiment carried on through to the end of the pitch, with the ZeroNext duo receiving three separate offers.
After the prerequisite time to discuss their potential deals (and build suspense), Desjardin and Pinet decided to go with a joint offer between Jim and Michael Wekerle ($1 million for 40% of the company) that will hopefully help them break into the US market at a faster rate.
When Amy Appleton and Ilana Grostern walked into the Dragons Den pitching their line of cloth diapers, they really needed to set themselves apart from companies who sell a similar line of products the Dragons had already seen.
But that was no issue for the dynamic pair behind Apple Cheeks Diapers.
While their cloth diaper design is arguably revolutionary (allowing users to clean the diapers without ever needing to touch any... undesirable substances), it was really Amy and Ilana's established brand, proven sales, and business savvy that impressed the Dragons.
By the end, the duo walked away with a joint deal from both Arlene and Jim. No doubt the partnership launched Appleton Cheeks Diapers into new heights of success, as the brand is now sold across Canada and the United States.
Bad Monkey Popcorn
Slowly (but surely) becoming a staple snack food in Montreal, Bad Monkey Popcorn is beloved for its fresh, inventive and addictive flavours. The use of kernels that don't get stuck in your teeth is also pretty great.
And when brothers-in-business Fabio and Joseph Zeppilli presented their popcorn product to the Dragons, they were similarly impressed.
Asking for 150k for 20% of the business, the brothers were surprised to get three different offers, one from Manjit Minhas that would give them double the money for a larger cut of the business and another set at 150k for only 2% equity.
The Zeppilli's then tried to pull a combo offer from the Dragons, but Manjit was having none of it, and remained firm in her offer. Recognizing the great opportunity, the brothers agreed to take Manjit's deal, all but cementing Bad Monkey Popcorn's future place in the Canadian snack scene.
SPIN Games & Activations
Creating life-sized version of classic games, Montrealers David Roberge, Olivier Roy and Gabriel Desbiens formed SPIN Games & Activations, and went into the Dragons Den seeking 75K for 15% of their business.
The pitch started out fun and lighthearted, but everything got real dramatic when it came time for offers to be made.
The trio received two competing deals from Michele Romanow and Michael Wekerle, which sent them into the deliberation room to...deliberate. But that's when things got interesting.
In an unprecedented maneuver, Romanow actually went into the deliberation room to add some revisions to her offer. Romanow sweetened the deal, and the SPIN team accepted her new offer, which certainly pissed off the other Dragons who weren't too pleased with Romanow's shady conduct.
Who could forget about AquaMermaid, the Montreal-based "mermaid school" that made waves (both literal and figurative) when it opened last year. Folks went nuts for the concept, and founder Marielle Chartier Heanult went into the Dragons Den hoping to capitalize on that momentum and expand her business as quickly as possible.
Asking for 300k for 10% of the company that functions as both a swimming class for kids and aquafitness for adults, the Dragons were immediately wary of the large investment. Things got a little worse when the topic of Heanult's business evaluation came up, which the Dragons took to be more than a little inflated.
The Dragons concerns only grew, as they questioned the size of the target demographic, longevity of the concept, and potential safety concerns. But Heanult did receive one offer from Michael Wekerle, though it would result in him owning more then 70% of the company, which was far too much for Heanult to accept.
Inspired by his time as a student painter, Montrealer Carmelo Marsala decided to revolutionize the home painting process and developed "Spray-Net," a mobile painting service that prides itself on being the premium exterior painting solution.
Doing all the work for consumers, Spray-Net comes directly to a home and is able to paint all the tricky surfaces (doors, window sills, etc.) in a flash. The company even uses its own paint formula that Marsala advertises as longer lasting than other brands.
Marsala sped through his pitch (he talk nearly as fast as I do, and apparently faster than Romanow) and managed to impress both Wekerle and Jim, receiving offers from both Dragons. Taking almost no time to deliberate, Marsala instantly chose Jim "the franchise king" as his business partner, the deal granting Marsala the exact deal he was looking for, including the experience he'll need to expand his business.
Clothing options are fairly limited for pregnant mothers, a struggle that extends into the winter coat realm of apparel. Jackets simply don't grow with a pregnant belly, unless, of course, you have a MakeMyBellyFit attachment designed by Montrealer Ben McHugh.
Taking inspiration from his own life experiences, which saw him without a coat during his wife's first and second pregnancies, the MakeMyBellyFit is a "jacket extender" used during maternity (and for baby carrying) that zips right into a parent's coat.
The Dragons were quite taken with the concept, with almost every one making an offer to McHugh, with a couple of revisions along the way to sweeten the deal. In the end, McHugh went with Manjit's offer, getting a 70k investment with 7% royalty and 15% equity.
Food technology engineer Pierre Tisserand went into the Dragons Den with his revolutionary Nutri-Qual product, confident his creation would wow the Dragons.
A probiotic supplement that can be added to raw meat, Nutri-Qual's main feature is its ability to increase a meat products shelf-life quite a bit. For example, a chicken breast could go from a ten day to 21 day shelf-life with the addition of Nutri-Qual, according to Tisserand.
A range of other health benefits, including reduced cholesterol and cancer risks, were also presented to the Dragons, but most were turned away by Tisserand's evaluation. Asking 500K for 15% of the company, even the most interested Dragons felt they were being "priced out," and so Tisserand left the den without getting an offer.
Groovy Pulse Games
Montreal's creative and booming video game and tech scene shone through when David Menard of Groovy Pule Games entered the Dragons Den, pitching his company's music games for mobile devices.
Entirely personalized, the "Groovy Star" game allows you to create your own avatar, then play to your own music. Think Guitar Hero but for your phone/tablet, and you choose the setlist.
The demonstration went swimmingly for Menard, as the Dragons really dug the concept. So much so that an offer from Arlene turned into a three-part deal with Wekerle and Jim, even after Menard demanded they take a smaller cut of the company.
Few are aware of the struggles faced by professional Canadian athletes, as those who take the time to dedicate such a large part of their lives to represent the nation in a particular sport aren't funded as much as many think. Thus, athletes need to train while fundraising and providing for their own basic needs.
David Ancor & Michale Shpigelman, members of Canada's Judo team living in Montreal, understand the struggle all too well, having dealt with the funding crises faced by many Canadian athletes themselves. And so the duo decided to create a solution with MakeAChamp.com, a crowdfunding platform specifically for athletes.
Allowing athletes to instantly create a campaign and spread it through social media, MakeAChamp.com then takes a 6% cut from the funds raised, a business model which impressed several of the Dragons. But while three Dragons made an offer, the duo decided to go with Bruce, even managing to get Arlene on-board to help on the marketing side of things without taking a cut.