Kitchener-Waterloo entrepreneurs have a reason to be excited about a March madness of a different sort.
On March 6, the TV show Dragons’ Den is scheduled to make a stop at the University of Waterloo in search of individuals who want a shot at winning over the show’s investors.
Dragons’ Den is a Canadian reality show, aired on CBC television since 2006, in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors in the hope of getting partnerships or financing for their their businesses.
“Every year we cross the country looking for the next best and brightest,” said Molly Middleton, the show’s senior producer. “It’s sort of a pared-down version of being on the show. . . . The expectation is that people who come put their best foot forward and present it in the same way as they would in the show.”
The show’s producers have been coming to the Waterloo region for a number of years and believe that Waterloo offers good ideas and pitches.
“Waterloo is a great hub of innovation in Canada, with the universities there,” said Middleton. “We are always looking for bright students’ pitches to come forward, as we often do student-centred episodes. We’ve had great turnouts from Waterloo in the past.”
The opportunity is also promising for the students’ future in general, since it adds a lot of knowledge to their set of skills.
“We often find out that students really have received sort of a casual education in entrepreneurship from the show and from growing up watching it. . . . It’s a great opportunity for students or anyone to get their products seen beyond their city or region,” explained the producer.
Doug Mochrie, from Guelph, pitched his business, Airo.Life to the Dragons last year.
“Airo.Life firstly is for people and the planet,” explained Mochrie. “The Airo.Life free phone will give people access to information with a means to education for free, thus educating the world more and helping the environment.”
The entrepreneur believes that the CBC show gives people an opportunity to build a better business and reach a large audience.
Middleton said this year Dragons’ Den is specifically looking for business ideas aimed at Canadians under 30 years old, even though they are open to any good ideas. The show also has an equal panel of three men and three women, which they are proud of.
“Every year, the bar is raised a little bit with what kind of innovations are out there, Middleton said. “If anyone is trying to make a world a better place and improve anything to do with people under 30, that’s an exciting thing that we are looking for.”
The auditions will be located at the University of Waterloo in the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“To go on the show yourself, you have to believe in what you’re doing,” the owner of Airo.Life recommends. “Have affirmation from friends, family and associates. It’s a lot pressure, but if you’re solving a problem and it make sense with profitability, you never know what may happen.”
“People need to realize that we are only there once,” said Middleton. “If you can’t be there, you can always apply online, but your best bet is to come meet us in person, because there’s always the chance of networking and meeting other entrepreneurs. People have nothing to lose.”