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Dragons' Den: Where are they now?

This article by Tara Dechamps appeared in the Toronto Star on December 24, 2014.

The Star takes a look at what’s happened since some entrepreneurs visited the CBC den.

After eight seasons of hearing zany and clever pitches from entrepreneurs hoping to make it big with products dreamed up in basements and garages across the nation, the stars of CBC show Dragons’ Den know a good idea when they see it.

The hit show features five self-made millionaires who listen to pitches from wannabe tycoons soliciting dollars for a slice of their companies.

Though plenty of entrepreneurial hopes are dashed in the den, executive producer Tracie Tighe says the backing of the show’s dragons has allowed Balzac’s Coffee Roaster to expand across Ontario and Pür sugar-free gum to make it into the mouths of millions.

Since the show first started, Tighe has noticed that pitches have improved and feature businesses at a more mature state.

“When we first started the show everybody started coming to us with safety products and ladder products, but things have changed a bit,” Tighe says, noting that some even brought products they had crocheted or handmade crafts. “Food tends to do well if it is already packaged and ready to go because the dragons can see the market for it.”

Entrepreneurs who shake hands with the dragons after a successful pitch must go through a due diligence process after the show before any deals are official.

Regardless of their success on the show, Tighe says, companies get a boost in sales and more exposure because Dragons’ Den “has a million eyes” the night it airs. “It tends to go well for everyone,” she says.

With Season 9 of Dragons’ Den continuing Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. on CBC, the Star takes a look back at what’s happened since some of the country’s most ingenious and far-fetched entrepreneurs visited the den.

Holy Crap (Season 5)

One couple saw their organic, chia-based cereal product go from small-town British Columbia to the moon, following an appearance on Dragons’ Den. Brian and Corin Mullins pitched their product called Holy Crap to the dragons in November 2010.

The show transformed Holy Crap into a successful gluten-free, vegan and organic cereal business, far from the humble company the Mullins began with $129 as a way to address Brian’s food allergies and sensitivities.

When dragon Jim Treliving tasted their product, retailing online for $34.95 for a pack of three, he said, “Holy Crap, is this ever good” helping the couple seal a deal.

Since then they’ve reached over $1 million in sales and sent the cereal to space with astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Brian and Corin Mullins; Finalists, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, 2012

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