Entering the Dragons’ Den

How do you pitch a dragon? The partners of Rumble decided to take a team approach when they auditioned for CBC’s hit television show, Dragons’ Den, this past Saturday in Victoria.

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Another tactic is to bring your own dragon. That was Kate Noble’s plan when the HR consultant went looking for a backer for her line of socially minded children’s books about — you guessed it — a dragon named Duffy.

 “Now the concept has solidified, the ‘Duffy’ brand is ready to branch out,” Noble told the panel of producers. She believes that Duffy the Dragon could be targeted to the health and education industries.

Dragons’ Den producers, including Michelle MacMillan and Richard Maerov and executive producer Tracie Tighe, started a cross-Canada tour in January, looking for entrepreneurs to appear on season eight for their shot at financial backing from one of the dragons — a panel of Canadian moguls who have cash and business know-how. Victoria was just one of the more than 40 stops in their search, with earlier stops in Nanaimo and on Salt Spring Island.

“We were really pleased with the turnout — Victoria has always been a hotbed of entrepreneurial ideas for us,” says Tighe. “Islanders have been super successful in the den since our very first season. And I’m sure we’ll see one of the companies we auditioned on Saturday walk away with a deal this season too.”

It’s still too early to know which applicants have progressed, and Rumble is one of many hoping for good news.  The four partners (Paul Underhill, Kim McQueen, Steve Hughes and James McQueen) behind Canada’s first “nourishing drink” are looking for capital to help with the rapid growth of their company. Although they only launched locally in November, the drink can now be found in stores across Canada. Described as a “hunger-fighting beverage,” it was created from Underhill’s need for nourishment during his battle with cystic fibrosis. He has since had a double-lung transplant (in 2011) and uses Rumble for energy during long bike rides – he completed the 140km Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria last summer.

Local businesses have been successful on the program in the past. And Noble’s Duffy the Dragon was not the first dragon-inspired pitch. Mary McQueen of Hand & Beak included a dragon-collage greeting card in her appearance on Dragons’ Den last season. McQueen, who uses shredded paper produced by her lovebird Luigi, had her pitch go awry when Luigi flew into the rafters of the television studio. It all worked out when Luigi was rescued and Hand & Beak found a backer in David Chilton. Luigi the Lovebird and McQueen stopped by the auditions this year to say hello, and McQueen expressed her amazement at how far her business has come in the year since her own audition, with her cards now distributed by Hallmark.