This article appeared in the Coast Reporter on September 23, 2011 by Christine Wood
This season of Dragons’ Den on CBC could see more Coasters signing deals, following in the footsteps of Brian and Corin Mullins, makers of Holy Crap cereal.
The Mullins became local celebrities when they made a deal with the Dragons on the show last year. Although the deal was never officially signed, the publicity from the show was enough to push the Mullins’ business into the fast lane.
Their company, HapiFoods Group, is now worth millions with distributors around the world selling their Holy Crap and Skinny B cereals.
“We did $1.5 million alone off PayPal on-line after the show, and when the show ran again this summer on July 20, CEOs from companies were visiting Canada on holidays.
Now we’re working on distribution deals around the world because people saw the show when they were here in Canada,” Brian said.
Appearing on Dragons’ Den was definitely instrumental in growing the local business. The Mullins hope other locals will taste some of that success, which was the reason they asked Dragons’ Den producers to come to the Coast in March for auditions.
“We insisted they come here on their next tour because I said we’ve got a lot of good companies and a lot of good ideas, and they confirmed that,” Brian said. “They said they invited several firms from here, I think five to seven to go to the taping, but some didn’t go that were invited.
They’ve been asked to reapply next year.” Three local entrepreneurs who went to the taping may make it on the show this season. Producers have confirmed they are looking at segments featuring entrepreneurs Cris Rowan, Shine Apsara and Sarah Doherty to possibly run in the coming weeks.
Rowan is the creator of Zone’in Projects Inc., a company that offers products, training and workshops centred around enhancing children’s attention, improving literacy skills and balancing technology use to improve children’s health and productivity. She said her pitch didn’t go so well. “They creamed me. It was really brutal,” Rowan said. She said the Dragons’ energy was all over the place, they were rude to her and they chastised her for investing too much in her business. At one point she likened them to the kind of children her program is meant to help, which could be the quirky comment that will get her a little airtime on the show. “You never know how they are going to choose what gets on the show, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” Rowan said.
Apsara had a completely different experience with the Dragons. She hand crafts live organic and gluten free foods. “They really loved me. They thought I was fantastic, and Kevin [O’Leary], who is portrayed as a mean guy, they asked him actually ‘why are you being so nice to Shine?’ And he said, ‘because I feel like if I’m mean to her it’s going to give me bad karma.’ For me that set the ambiance of the whole space. Everything was like that,” Apsara said. She was so well received, in fact, that the Dragons asked her to teach them yoga at the end of her presentation. “My last experience was with them doing a kunda-lini yoga pose called ego eradicator,” she said.
Doherty is well known on the Coast for her invention SideStix — high performance forearm crutches with shock absorbers that provide joint protection, safety and comfort for active users who are amputees, which Doherty is. Doherty said she and her partner Kerith Perreur-Lloyd enjoyed pitching to the Dragons. “It was a very positive experience. The Dragons really, really liked us, but I can’t say any more for confidentiality reasons,” Doherty said.
Everyone who pitches on the show must sign contracts forbidding them to tell the outcome of their pitch before it airs on television. Season Six of Dragons’ Den has already started, and you can watch it every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on CBC to see if any of our local entrepreneurs made the cut.