Producers were in Guelph Wednesday to hear pitches from local entrepreneurs hoping to appear on the upcoming season of Dragons’ Den.
The Guelph auditions are one of about 30 cities Dragons’ Den is seeking new business ideas from for its upcoming thirteenth season, said Jane Chupick, a producer for the CBC show.
Chupick notes that businesses from Guelph have provided some good moments in the show’s history, including Wyke and Suncoat Products.
“There has been a couple of really successful pitchers from here,” she said.
Kitchener-based Tee Talent is a social enterprise that sells promotional products which is operated by people with disabilities, said co-founder Carlos Martins.
Companies can become more inclusive by hiring people with disabilities, said Martins, but they can also do so by buying from a supplier that is inclusive.
“That is called an inclusive supply chain,” said Martins.
Shayne Smith, co-founder and public relations for Tee Talent, is also a member of the Team Canadian wheelchair rugby team.
As a quadruple amputee, Smith has experienced difficulties being hired. He recounted a job interview he had with a video game store.
“I’m a big gamer, but I was told I couldn’t have the job because I couldn’t reach stuff on the top shelf, even though I know more stuff than half of the guys who do work there,” said Smith.
“We want to show people in the business community just because someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean they can’t provide the same service. You are either going to provide a better service or a worse service — the disability has nothing to do about it,” said Smith.
Tee Talent offers thousands of promotional items, said Martins, and sells with a business to business model.
“We have to demonstrate that people with disabilities can get the job done. It’s not awareness, it’s not a piece of paper explaining — it’s demonstrating,” said Martins.
Balwan Latchman drove from Brampton to pitch his new generation paint can that doesn’t require any tools to open.
“It also provides a perfect seal every time,” said Latchman.
Current paint can lids have been a problem for decades, he said.
“Many times you open the can and realize that all you have is dried paint. Now you have to take a trip to store, it costs you extra money and the dried paint ends up in the landfill — so it’s an environmental issue as well,” said Latchman.
Brian Escobar of Cambridge pitched his company Tribal Wear to producers.
Escobar said he decided to pitch on a whim and decided he didn’t want to pitch the way everybody else has done.
“As opposed to asking for their money — I want to invite them to mine. That’s how I’m going to approach it,” said Escobar.
Abid Ali of Mississaugua pitched his medical marijuana business called Ali Botanicals.
Ali said his company takes a patient-centric approach to cannibis.
“Everybody is running toward the commercial market and not really considering what the patient goes through,” said Ali.
The open auditions in Guelph were held for one day at the Holiday Inn. Chupick said season 13 of Dragons’ Den begins filming in April.
“(The pitchers) will get a phone call within a month and will still have a month to prepare for their eventual pitch,” she said.