How I Entered the Dragons’ Den

By Izabela Stabinska

Most of you have probably heard of the show Dragons’ Den. Many of you probably watch it. I do.

I like creative people, bold entrepreneurs, and inventors who are trying to improve the world. After all, if it wasn’t for them, we still would be trying to start a fire with two flint stones.

Dragons’ Den originated in Japan as “Manē no Tora” meaning “Tiger of Money” and it has spread all over the world, including Canada, Poland, Britain and the U.S. where it is known as Shark Tank. A version of it even airs in Afghanistan.

I’m a big fan and it just so happens that I had a chance to try my luck with the Dragons.

Over a year ago, I was approached by Walter Woloschuk of the company Gamma Ray Boosters and became involved in designing a line of specialized interactive and highly customized sportswear.

The concept was based on a vest-type garment for both genders and all ages. I had to use specialty fabric provided to me, but I could play with trim, colours, zippers and accessories.

It’s a start-up business, but since the idea is very innovative and the monetary potential is huge, Walter and I were curious whether the Dragons would be interested in investing and helping us carry it further.

It was a top-secret idea and we kept all details under wraps until revealing everything on the show.

The recording took place at the CBC in Toronto. Entrepreneurs were divided into morning and afternoon sessions which ran from 7am until the evening.

We had the morning session, but were number six on the list. After the registration we were ushered to the studio for a pre-pitch briefing.

I was surprised by how much smaller the studio space was compared to my impression of it from watching the show!

There were tons of lamps mounted on the ceiling but all the cameras were hidden so as to not intimidate the entrepreneurs.

Every group met with the show’s Director who went over the arrangement for the pitch: how to walk in, where to stand etc. He was very attentive and helpful in trying to meet our needs for the pitch.

Following this, we were transferred to a spacious lounge with a beautiful view of CN Tower and a table with snacks and drinks, comfy sofas, and a TV which played previous episodes of the show.

When we were finally called in we went through makeup and were wished good luck. It was an amazing feeling to see everything from the other side and to walk down the stairs to the Dragons’ Den.

I was a little nervous of course, but mostly I was excited to have accomplished so much and that we were able to get so far.

The actual pitch took about 30 minutes, but after editing it came in at five minutes of the juiciest, most dramatic moments and exaggerated comments and emotions.

On the other hand, I can assure you that the presentations and the deals are real – nothing is scripted.

You can find out if the Dragons liked our pitch by watching it here (Season 6, Episode 3).