Last May, I got an unexpected call from Dragons' Den (American friends: it's our Shark Tank).
They invited us to pitch on the very last day of filming Season 10 - an occasion too amazing to pass up. As a big fan of the show, I knew that the advice & connections the Dragons bring, coupled with the chance to introduce Flytographer to a million viewers across Canada, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"We are in!" I told the producer. So we had four days to prepare a pitch, design a set, and fly across the country to Toronto. No pressure.
As a mom, I always look for opportunities to bring my kids into the business. Startups require long hours, weekends, and late nights, all of which doesn't always go down well when you are balancing raising a family. I decided to bring my 10-year-old son, Harrison, so he could experience Toronto and get a taste of the "Den." Joining us was Tara, our creative director (who led set design), and my friend Daisy, whose son, Raine, is a good friend of Harrison's.
Our team in Victoria got to work quickly. We pulled together our plan in 24 hours, and then Tara, Daisy, Raine, Harrison and I all hopped on a plane.
We flew to Toronto on Wednesday, May 13th, two days in advance of our pitch. We checked in to The Fairmont Royal York, and pretty much camped out in our rooms for the next 36 hours to finalize plans, watch past Dragons' Den episodes obsessively, and practice, practice, practice our pitch!
On Thursday morning, Daisy, our boys, and I decided to build a little fun into the schedule and tour the city in the morning, while Tara grabbed set props from Ikea and the printer. We booked a Flytographer shoot, as this was one trip that definitely deserved better memories than selfies! It was really great to meet Tracey, one of our local photographers, and learn her favourite local tips. Honestly, walking around for an hour was a big stress-reliever; it was the only time all week I didn't obsess about the upcoming pitch and all the things that could go wrong!
ARRIVING AT CBC
Friday morning came fast. We arrived at CBC around 7am (after a pit stop to get our "TV hair" on, of course). The reception desk assigned a guide who brought us and our set to the floor where Dragons' Den is filmed.
We walked into a warehouse-like space where desks were set up for each of the companies pitching that day. The buzz was palpable, and everyone was busily preparing sets or walking in circles reciting pitches to themselves. Our producer told us to recreate the set "exactly like we wanted it to appear on the Den," so Tara and Daisy quickly got to work assembling a Parisian scene (the place where Flytographer was born in October 2011).
About 30 minutes later, all the entrepreneurs pitching that day were invited to have their first peek inside the studio. I remember looking up and seeing what appeared to be MILLIONS of cameras in the ceilings. Deep breaths! Harrison, on the other hand, was ready to roll.
I remember our name being called: "You're up next." We entered the Den along the broken-windowed path you see on TV, and walked down the steps right in front of the staring eyes of five Dragons. It almost didn't seem real.
Now, until the show airs, I can't share what happened, but I can share that about two minutes into my pitch, my mouth morphed into a drier-than-the-Sahara cotton ball. So if you see my tongue bopping against my cheeks, you will know why! This has never happened before, and I can tell you, it was pretty awkward.
So, there you have it. We are getting ready to have a big viewing party October 21st, generously hosted by our partner, Fairmont Hotels. Popcorn and prosecco are on the menu and we will be joined by local customers, friends, family and special supporters.
So what's your prediction?
Will we receive zero offers? Will we receive and turn down offers? Will receive and accept any offers? Tune in Wednesday, October 21st at 8pm on CBC and find out! No matter the outcome, it was a great experience for us, and we can't wait to introduce Dragons' Den fans across Canada to Flytographer.
Wish us luck!
CEO & Founder
PS - To celebrate, we are offering a $50 off sale*. Code: DragonsDen
*Can not be combined with other offers/commissions/discounts. Expires October 31st 2015 at 11:59pm PST. Can not be applied to previous purchases.