Dragons’ Den producers fly into Durham College

Jeremy Hannan, the creator of the Cobra Mask hopes to go to Toronto and pitch his product in front of the Dragons.

Canadians with entrepreneurial aspirations may have a goal of landing a deal with the dragons from CBC’s Dragons’ Den to kick-start their business ideas.

Durham Region residents had their opportunity to audition for the show and pitch their products when producers of the program came to Durham College Feb. 28.

Entering its 13th season in late September, the show and the Dragons, continue to look for the next big Canadian product and entrepreneur to hit the market.

Around 40 people showed up with their products and pitched them to the producers.

Stephanie Quilligan, one of the producers of the show, says “the number one thing we’re looking for is passion. If you’re not passionate about your business then why would a dragon or anybody be interested in investing?”

She says producers want to see new and innovative products as well, while also keeping in mind it’s a show for entertainment, so the entrepreneur needs to have character and come across well on television.

The audition process moves quickly, as Quilligan says they travel to more than 30 Canadian cities in six weeks to find entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to the dragons. 

There are about four participants per episode, in past seasons there have been around 20 episodes per, so there are around 80 participants per season.

Participants are reached by phone or email if they make the final cut.

Jeremy Hannan, of Whitby, was one of the many entrepreneurs who showed up to pitch a product.

His product is the Cobra mask, a full face snorkelling mask which he says provides more comfort than normal snorkelling gear. All of which he designs himself.

He retails the masks for about $75 and they come in 13 different colours.

He has owned his business for about three years and says it has become the biggest selling snorkelling mask in Canada, though he says he does face competition from European and American companies. 

He says his product had around $150,000 in sales in 2017, with the expectation of doubling it this year.

He says he wants a dragon deal to “increase production and quality of the masks”, as he can’t currently mass produce the item, leaving him to retail them in smaller stores.

Hannan says the audition was “more formal and professional than I expected it to be. It felt like I was pitching in front of the real dragons.”

He also says even if he doesn’t get a deal with the dragons “it’s still great exposure for the product to make it on TV.”

Although, if he does earn a spot on the show at the studio in Toronto and lands a deal with a Dragon he hopes it’s Arlene Dickinson because “she has the business sense and the connections.”