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Here is a “podcast” audio interview about our experience taping Dragons’ Den:
You can watch the full episode of Easy Daysies on Dragons’ Den at www.easydaysies.com:
In this 3-part series, we recount our journey with Easy Daysies to the Dragons’ Den (the Canadian version of Shark Tank). This episode is about the taping of the show – there’s a little more going on than you see on TV! Hopefully this will provide motivation and inspiration to anyone who is thinking about applying for a business reality TV show.
And you can find Easy Daysies online at www.easydaysies.com
Be sure to also listen to Episodes 11 and 13, what happens before and after the Den:
Dragons’ Den: 00:12 First up a school teacher with an invention that helps families stick to a schedule.
Elaine: 00:24 Hello Dragons. My name is Elaine Comeau and I’m from Maple Ridge, British Columbia. And I’m here to tell you about my award-winning products called Easy Daysies, the magnetic daily schedules for children. And I’m also here to ask for $70,000 in exchange for 35% of my company.
Elaine: 00:44 Hi, welcome to Elaine’s Kitchen Table. I’m so honored to have you here with us where we talk about the business of real life and that is the lessons we learned in business and in parenting. I also want to take a moment to say thank you so much to those who have taken the time to put a rating on our podcast, on iTunes and leaving a comment. Please know that it makes a huge difference for our podcast when you do take that time. So I do want to thank you in advance. If you could do that, I would truly appreciate it. And I just wanted to take a moment right now to thank, Asider6 and I believe love, love, love it for leaving awesome comments and so encouraging to me. Thank you. I love to learn from you as well. So please do leave some feedback there or you can find me on Twitter @chatwithelaine or also on Facebook at Elaine’s kitchen table. Now the topic we’re gonna cover today is one I often get asked to speak about and that is our experience on the Den. So this is part two because part one we talked about leading up to uh, being on this show and that was pitching at the auditions and I still feel nervous thinking about it that, uh, that is always going to be an awesome memory that I have. It was terrifying but awesome. And so now we’re going to go right into what happened next. And my husband, Ron Comeau is here with us. Say Hello. Hello.
Elaine: 02:24 So we knew from the auditions, the producers, there shared with everybody that they would only be calling people who are invited back to the well to the taping of the real show in six weeks from the time we went to pitch because it was a six week nationwide audition and at the end they were going to call back about I believe 240 pitchers to come to Toronto for the real taping of the show in front of the five investor Dragons and we were the first city that they started with their auditions because we’re out west in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and I knew exactly when this six week or so was going to be over. Now, we were also told that from the 240 probably about 160 to 180 would actually air. So just being invited to the taping of the show did not guarantee that you would actually air on television.
Elaine: 03:25 And we were also told that even if you’ve got a deal when you pitched in front of dragons, if it wasn’t TV worthy or entertaining for television, it still would not air. So it was very important to make sure it was an interesting show and at this time, because I knew exactly when that six weeks was going to be, it coincided with a family trip, like a family reunion trip with my husband’s family that we had planned for three years and 19 of us, were actually going to go to Maui and totally awesome. Best trip ever. And I knew that phone call was going to happen around then. So that was a little nerve wracking as well, especially when we didn’t tell many people that we actually auditioned for this show and we did come home from the trip and we didn’t get a call yet, but I knew it was just any day if it was going to happen.
Elaine: 04:19 And it did. And I was at home with the children, our three little ones. And that phone call happened and it was a producer from the show. And she congratulated me and said that they loved our pitch and they would like to have us fly out to Toronto and be part of the taping of Season 6 of Dragons’ Den. Crazy! And she said, bring the children. And I thought, whaaat, we have a seven and a half year olds, a four and a half year old and a two and a half year old. And I’m like, oh my goodness. And she thought, no, no. She’s like, bring them. She said, it’s a TV show Elaine, not a boardroom. Bring the kids. And I said, sure. Okay. And I hung up and called my husband. Do you remember that call?
Ron: 05:12 Yes, I sure do. You remember your calling me at work. And I think that as we mentioned in the last episode, you kind of thought you had really messed up the audition and I kind of thought you did awesome. So I probably wasn’t as surprised as you that you got the call, but I was still just as happy as you that you got the call.
Elaine: 05:31 Yes. I thought that was an awful audition and I never got through that 60 seconds of my pitch before that bombardment of questions. And so it began, we got that call probably in the end of March. And uh, the auditions was, oh dear. You think I’d remember it was in April but we had about two about two weeks to prepare. Right, you mean the taping not the audition. Sorry, yes, the taping. And so it was a little crazy because how do you prepare for this one? It’s going to be a live taping and there’s no take two, you know, take four. It’s the real thing. And we, I remember getting this big contract and we basically signed our life away. It talked about how they owned every square footage of the film and it could be used to destroy your reputation or the reputation of your company and they would use it in any way that they would like to use it. And then you kind of sign it and say, yeah, let’s do this and you just had to go for it. And um, we started preparing our pitch.
Ron: 06:49 by the way, I know exactly what day the taping was and I have a funny little story about that, that I can tell at the end of this podcast.
Elaine: 06:58 Okay. I kind of want to hear it too so we’ll have to wait till the end I guess. That um, we knew that we had to nail, our pitch completely and the best way to do this type of research of course, is to watch the show. We were avid watchers of the show anyways, because, uh, being an entrepreneur you get drawn to shows like this where there’s investors and people sharing their concepts and their new products or their company. And it’s an excellent way to be educated about business. We actually got our children to start watching this show too because I wanted the children to not be scared I was standing in front of the Dragons. I wanted the children to know these people and their names. And as we watched every day, the children knew them and they weren’t afraid of them. And it was like having them in our house.
Elaine: 07:56 So when we went to Toronto, Oh let me back it up, we were assigned a producer and this producer was lovely and she is great. And my children still love her till today and she kind of coached us and telling us, okay, what, what kind of props do you need? And of course I wanted a kitchen table. I wanted a fridge because Easy Daysies was created off our kitchen table. And it’s this, I just wanted to create a scene that look like someone’s home because that’s what Easy Daysies was created for. I had so many parents ask me to make this for them to use at home and it was just the perfect scene. And then we went back and forth over the two weeks and she couldn’t get a fridge, she couldn’t get a table and, and back and forth.
Elaine: 08:47 And at the end she finally was able to get a fridge but no kitchen table. And that’s, and you just kind of go with the flow. So aside from props, the real, real work was creating that pitch and finding out what your numbers are and knowing your numbers, nailing that down so that you are not giving a ridiculous valuation of your business and not having a business plan is not a good idea. So I would say that preparing for such a presentation is probably the number one crash course in business 101 where you had to line up all your ducks in a row and make sure you know your numbers, make sure you have a business plan, make sure you have your five year plan laid out because those questions are gonna come and you want to make sure you can answer everything. Is that right Ronnie?
Ron: 09:39 Yeah. What was your five year plan?
Elaine: 09:43 Well, our five year plan at that point was uh, basically to grow it, grow it, grow it, and to a point where a bigger company would want to license it.
Ron: 09:55 Very interesting people will hear about that on another podcast.
Elaine: 09:58 That is correct. And we wanted to find as many people as we could to practice our pitch in front of. And that was already a nerve wrecking because now you have to tell people that you’re going to be on this show or at least auditioning, not auditioning, that we’re going to be taping this show. And I am a little bit shy and I didn’t want the whole world to know we’re going to be flying out to Toronto to tape for this show and that we might not even air and, but we had to practice. And the best way to do it is to do it in front of different people. And it was very funny. We, we practiced in front of family members, neighbors who had never watched the show before, friends who were willing to hear us, that love the show and knew like the back of their hand and had so much fun being Mr. Wonderful the tough guy to neighbors who had never seen the show and start watching it so that they could help us in our pitch. And, uh, it was, it was very cute cause we had the children stand in front of us and they were so great because they were so little and they were not tired of us. Doing it over and over and over again.
Ron: 11:15 And practicing in front of a variety of different people I think was very important because, um, it’s good to get outside advice when you’re, when you’re doing a practicing for a pitch like this because you know your business inside out, hopefully. But the people that you’re pitching to, you know nothing about your business, so you have to make sure you’re very clear in what you’re getting across. So it was key to pitch to both people who love the show and were junkies and watched every episode because they know how the show works. It was also key to pitch to people who had never seen this show because they had a very much an outsider’s view. And if they could understand it, then we would feel that the Dragons could understand it.
Elaine: 11:54 Yes. And that’s what you want. You want people throw questions at you or tell you if they didn’t understand what your business was at all to people who say, Oh, I, I think you should say this. And of course there’s a danger in having too many chefs in the kitchen, but that’s why you need to know your business so well that you are able to tune it into a quick pitch that would be 60 seconds. And the reason I say 60 seconds, of course you have more time than that when you’re pitching in front of investors, but you want to nail it in your 60 seconds so that they will be intrigued to listen to more. And if you’ve ever seen these investors shows like Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den, you know that you, you have to nail it in the beginning. Otherwise they have already made that decision to tune you out or they’re just not interested to wanting to hear more.
Elaine: 12:49 And that’s what you want. Want them to hear more and to be intrigued to sit on the edge of their chair. And, so we practiced and practiced and practiced. And I still remember each person I practiced in front of and I’m so grateful for each one of them and, and it’s just a very special time to have had that with each of those wonderful, friends and family that have helped. I listened to us pitch and it was time to get on that plane and, and uh, we flew out to Toronto and it happened quick and we were all sick and we actually all had bronchitis is set for our seven and a half year old. And I remember every time I practiced or tried to speak, I coughed and I could not stop coughing and it was just horrible. But this is what we’re going to do.
Elaine: 13:43 And I remember I’m going back and forth with our producer and emails about the times that we were going to pitch because you normally don’t get a choice of time. You’re just given that day. And it says that you can wait anywhere from 45 minutes to hours. It could happen anytime within that day. And if it didn’t happen that day, you come back the next morning. And I reminded her that we were coming from Vancouver to Toronto and that we have three very small children. So she kindly, said that she was going to make a special note for us to present near first thing in the morning.
Ron: 14:22 And by the way, for any of our, American friends out there, you might not know that Vancouver and Toronto were three time zones apart. It’s basically like going from LA to New York, so about a 500 flight and, uh, three hours earlier in the morning when you get up, it feels like.
Elaine: 14:40 Yes. So we were told that we were going to be pitching at 6:30 in the morning in Toronto. So that is Eastern standard time and that would it be 3:30 AM for our children, Pacific standard time. You know, you do what you gotta do. And we had the best kids ever so sick and so great. And if you do see our pitch, if you’d like to see it, you can find it on my website at www.easydaysies.com. So Easy Daysies dot com and or go on CBC, Dragons’ Den, uh, Easy Daysies is what you would search for. And you will see that our three little ones are actually in their pajamas. And, it made it really easy because we picked, we actually just woke them up, picked them up and scooped them into our arms and walked over from the hotel to this studio downtown Toronto.
Ron: 15:44 And our kids have the most wonderful grandparents. And your parents were there with us.
Elaine: 15:48 Yes. And, we did bring my parents with us because we, we needed to have someone in the green room with them when the children would most likely be asked to leave the taping. I thought it’d be great if they had someone they knew in the green room. So my parents did come with us and we got to visit with family in Toronto, so that was nice. But I was so nervous, so nervous and, but I, I would say that I was actually more nervous in the audition than in this event, maybe? No, I think I was, I was more frightened in this, in this occasion.
Ron: 16:29 I remember the night before, you spoke on the phone to someone you had become friends with in the Vancouver auditions and he had just taped that day.
Elaine: 16:40 That’s right. Yes. And he was trying to give me some insider tips and he was so funny and, uh, he was saying that, you know, if you watch the show, you go up these stairs into a hallway, like a bridge that you’ll actually see on television and you’ll see the shadow of the person walking across the bridge. And then they come down into the den and he was telling me that there’s a person who stands at the top with you, a crew member from CBC, and they tap you on the shoulder at a count down from 10 to zero. And when they reach zero, they tap you on the shoulder and you just walk and there’s no turning back because that means the cameras were rolling and you just go. And he told me that the only thing he could compare that count down from 10 to zero to was a countdown to sitting in the electric chair. Oh my goodness. This is an awesome pep talk. And so it began, we got to the studio at just before 6:00 AM. So that would be just before 3:00 AM for our children. And they were tired and they were not feeling so good because we had bronchitis and, we got to the studio and we could see other pitchers prepping and getting ready and the crew would come and find you specifically and, and bring you up to this seventh floor.
Ron: 18:12 Uh, it, was the 9th or 10th or 11th or something like that of this huge building. Yup. Don’t you want to tell your elevator story?
Elaine: 18:21 I do. So we got into the elevator or just about to get into the elevator and our little two and a half year old threw up. She just threw up all over the floor. And I remember the crew, they all took three steps back, like,
Ron: 18:39 yeah, this was the lobby of the CBC building that she threw up all over.
Elaine: 18:43 Yes. And they thought this is worse than having camels or donkeys in the building. And I remember getting down on my hands and knees and wiping it up and cause that’s what moms do. And, I got up and I said, it can only get better. And we got in the elevator and we got up to that top floor where the CBC studio for Dragons’ Den was. And it was amazing because you think, well, people bring their boats and their cars and things like that up to that studio, through that humongous elevator.
Ron: 19:24 Yeah. We actually saw a sports car in the elevator when we were there. I think it was 10th floor.
Elaine: 19:30 Yes. But when we got there, it was kind of frantic. There was lots of people and other audition-, uh pitchers. And we were told to set up any props we have on, on our trial table where they just want to see how we want it laid out. And then the crew would set it up like that in front of the Dragons in the Den so that it will be prepared and ready for when we enter the Den. And I remember, setting it up and because we were the second to pitch that morning, um, there was no time for us to, mingle and chat with other pitchers. And I, and we were told that there was, there was a room where there was like food breakfast. It was told that we do, we were told that because we didn’t get to go there, but we were able to be part of a tour.
Elaine: 20:32 And so, they brought all the morning, uh, pitchers through the studio and we got to see the Den, the, and the five thrones where the investors were going to sit. They weren’t there and it was just a little tour so that we would be familiar with the, the studio and know where to stand and the kids thought it was so great cause they’ve seen it on television and it was totally surreal to be in the actual place that you see on television all the time. And uh, and then we were quickly scooted out. And it was time for the, the first taping. And, and when we came back to our table, there was a big crew that was standing in front of our table and they said that I couldn’t use any of the product. And I said, pardon me, pardon me? And the producers, there was many producers and one of them said, we can’t do your boxes are too shiny, the plastic will this glare, the lights.
Elaine: 21:36 So we just can’t use them. And I thought, this is, this is not good. I need to have my product. And so I had to think quick and improvise. And at that point our packaging was quite different. So I took the inserts out and asked the crew if they could get tape and we improvise. And I taped all of our packaging onto the outside of the plastic of the box or plastic boxes so that there was no glare or shine. It was just paper taped to be outside of the boxes. And we did it really quickly and then they came back and the producers said, okay, fine, we can use this and I was so happy and so relieved. So we were told by the producers that we would have anywhere between five minutes to 45 minutes in front of the Dragons. So you just never know.
Elaine: 22:23 And it was our turn. And we were told to go into the green room and my parents came into there with us and the kids were in there. Our producer was amazing and she brought books for the kids to draw in and color and, and gave them juice to drink. And it was just crazy. And I was so scared. But, um, and then they did the makeup thing and my, my seven and a half year old thought it was just the best, you got to sit in this chair and someone put makeup on her. My son wanted nothing to do with the makeup and uh, it was just very cute. And, and then it was time, it was time to go out into that studio and there we were at the bottom of those stairs. And I remember my son holding my hand and even before that, I remember telling each of my children to not touch their face to don’t pick their nose, just keep your arms down beside you. Don’t touch anything. Don’t go anywhere just stay beside Mommy and Daddy. And I was holding my four and a half year old son’s hand and we’re just about to go up the stairs and he looks up at me and he says, Mommy, I’m not scared of Dragons. And I thought, no, no honey, don’t be scared of Dragons. No. Even though I really, really wanted to throw up myself cause I was just so scared, but it was all good. All good. And you, you just kind of suck it up and thank God the kids were there and Mommy had to be brave. And there was a lot of praying going on. And I know I definitely prayed before going up there, but, um, we went up the stairs and there was that lovely person at the top of stairs and told me that she was going to count down from 10 to zero. And when she tapped me on the shoulder, I would take that step.
Ron: 24:25 You heard that before,
Elaine: 24:27 there was no return,
Ron: 24:29 but it’s not often in your lifetime that you get an actual once in a lifetime experience. And we knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we knew we had to nail it. Really. Elaine had to nail it.
Elaine: 24:43 And so it began, I got tapped on the shoulder and we took that step and there was no turning back and you just really don’t want to trip and fall down the stairs because I’m sure the cameras would love that. But, uh, yes, definitely not what we wanted to do. And we went down those stairs and there they were, those five awesome investors and they were,
Ron: 25:10 well, by the way, the, the way it, uh, it works here is they didn’t know who we were. No. Uh, they didn’t know anything about our business. That’s right. I think they had the name of the business on their little note pad and maybe your name. And that’s it. So when you, when you’re watching reality TV, a lot of times you’re thinking, boy, I wonder how real this really is. And I think a lot of reality TV shows, you know, are not really real at all, but Dragons’ Den, and I’m pretty sure that Shark Tank does it the exact same way. It’s about as real as reality TV gets because you’re walking into a room with five strangers, they’re strangers to you, you’re a stranger to them. And away you go and they film the interaction between you and it’s all 100% real.
Elaine: 25:52 I know for Dragons’ Den, the first time you stand in front of them is the first time they’ve ever seen you, your business or anything about your business or product. That’s the first time ever. And
Ron: 26:07 Sorry, and The peop- and the Dragons were uh, Jim, Mr Boston Pizza, Kevin O’Leary, Mr Wonderful
Elaine: 26:16 Jim Treliving. Yes.
Ron: 26:17 Jim Treliving yep Arlene Dickinson. Marketing guru. Mrs. Wonderful. And Bruce Croxon who was new that year, so we had never seen him on a previous episode.
Elaine: 26:29 Yes. And he is the creator of Lava Life and many other companies
Ron: 26:35 and Robert Herjavec, uh, was on the end. And Robert and Kevin of course also went on to Shark Tank fame in America, but they got their start on Dragons’ Den in Canada.
Elaine: 26:45 That’s right. And there they were. They all were sitting in their awesome, throne-like chairs. And um, what you will see in our, our taping of the show is very different than what we experienced because we actually were in front of the Dragons for about 48 minutes. And our episode was about nine minutes and 39 seconds. And, I remember we saw them, we had our cute, adorable children with us and, and not one of them cracked a smile. They were all quite serious and quite intimidating and I’m sure that’s what they have to do for their roles in Dragons’ Den and being the Dragons because it’s definitely not called the friendly people show or the nice people show. Um, but they’re all really great people, really nice. But uh, they were there with a very stern, serious faces and there was no cameras we did not see a single camera.
Elaine: 27:48 There was, there were cameras, we just didn’t see them. Yes, that’s correct. We just didn’t see these cameras, there was no crew, there was no one that was gonna direct it. There was a crew, we just didn’t see the crew. Yes. And there was our table with a cloth over my product and there was the fridge with Easy Daysies on it. And I did remember that the producer told me to take my time in setting up. And so we had the children there. I took off the black cloth that was covering our product and I thought, well, is someone going to tell me when to speak because I don’t know, do I just start speaking? And then I remember Arlene Dickinson, she was so kind and very sweet because she could tell there was this awkward silence and she broke the ice by saying hi to the kids.
Elaine: 28:41 And then I, I took that as my cue and I just started talking. It was an incredible experience. I remember telling myself to talk slow because I can talk pretty fast when I’m nervous and they kept asking questions and we kept talking. And then at one point my husband suggested that perhaps the children didn’t need to be standing there any longer because we were there for quite a while and they said, Oh yes. And the, the children were escorted out and, and then the craziness continued and they had their questions. And I felt confident because my husband was there with me. And uh, I knew that if I fell short of an answer, he could step in.
Ron: 29:32 And it’s kind of funny because people who know me in real life, know that I’m not the most talkative person and really almost everything I said ended up on the cutting room floor. So I think I ended up with really one line in the episode. I think that was kind of appropriate for the people who know me.
Elaine: 29:48 I knew I would be doing most of the talking and uh, so it was all good. I was ready, I was definitely very ready and uh, it was just incredible. We would not have hoped for, I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.
Ron: 30:04 Well and really, and you got a good edit as well, which is always nice, but they couldn’t help but do a good edit. I mean yours was, was a little bit unique in that it was one of the few pitches where all five investors wanted in on the idea and they were fighting over it. That doesn’t happen very often.
Elaine: 30:19 Yeah. Let’s hear what Kevin O’leary has to say right now.
Dragons’ Den: 30:21 Well, we’re so honored that all of you want a part of Easy Daysies and my dream would be to have all of you but I know that’s not a possibility. You know, it’s a nice problem you’re having. Most people that come in the Den don’t have this problem, but you’ve got to make a decision now
Ron: 30:42 and in the episode that you, that you see the nine minutes you see on air, you’ll see that we go back into the back little room and talk. But in fact that happened twice. Not, not once, but twice. And each time we went back in the room and came out, the deal had changed. So that was something that we’d never seen before. You try to prepare for everything. We hadn’t seen that in another episode before. You don’t even see it in this episode even though it happened. So maybe it happens from time to time, but, uh, we were definitely kept on our toes.
Elaine: 31:14 Yes. And um, if you go back to our podcast about how to nail that perfect pitch, you want to definitely know your investors that you’re pitching in front of. You want to know what they can bring to the table as well. Because I often get asked, how did I choose who I chose and, and, uh, why didn’t I choose this person or why did I go with this deal? You definitely want to know your investors. And we would have been excited and honored to have any of those five. But I knew I wanted to leave with at least two. And we were very, very blessed to have had that experience. And to have, uh, had a bidding war between all five investors. And uh, it’s something that I wasn’t ready for. And, but you have to think fast because that’s what you have to do when it’s live taping. And it’s crazy because it’s your business and you have to make a quick decision that would impact it forever. And I would love for you to hear what happened after. So make sure you do tune in to our third part of what happens after you get a deal on Dragons’ Den or Shark Tank.
Ron: 32:33 And by the way, if you’ve never seen the, uh, the fully edited pitch, you can just go to our website at elaineskitchentable.com and in the show notes we’ll have a link to the video for you.
Elaine: 32:45 And that is our journey to Dragons’ Den, the Canadian version of Shark Tank. And if you would like to check this out, you can go to my website at www.easydaysies.com
Ron: 32:58 Oh, and I almost forgot, I know that we taped our episode on April 26 2011 and I remember it vividly because, uh, that night we stayed at your uncle Alex’s house in Toronto and we were all kind of exhausted obviously, and went to bed early except for me because that night was also game seven of my beloved Vancouver Canucks versus the Chicago Blackhawks in their playoff series. And I stayed up until about 1:30 in the morning watching it by myself. And as it went into overtime and the Canucks came out and won. And then when we got home, a few days later, I heard the call from the Vancouver Canucks radio announcer, John Shorthouse, and it went like this.
Canucks radio: 33:37 Campoli has it. Flips it Burrows steals, cutting in, shoots, SCORES! They’ve slayed the dragon!
Ron: 33:47 They’ve slayed the dragon, and that happened on the exact same day, and that’s why I’ll always remember April 26 2011
Elaine: 33:54 Thank you so much for joining us today. We really hope that this episode has inspired you in some way in the business of real life thank you for joining us today. Bye Bye.