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Dragons’ Den Meaford 2014

On October 29th, the Meaford Chamber of Commerce hosted the 6th annual Meaford Dragons’ Den at the Meaford hall. Following a similar platform to CBC’s Dragons’ Den, this local competition allows one lucky business owner to walk away with thousands of dollars in cash and prizes to put toward their business. This competition lets 5 local businesses give a 3 minute presentation to the “dragons” about how they would use the money to help expand there business. From these pitches, the judges will pick a winner, as well as the audience for the “People’s Choice Award”. This show is a great way for community members to get to know local business owners and the work that they do. The judges are selected based on their success as local business owners. This year, there were 5 judges who helped pick the winner. They were Paul Osborn from A2A Capital Management, Bill Brick from the Brick Brothers Owen Sound Volkswagen, April Stewart from Landlord Legal and the Meaford BIA, Desmond von Teichman from Royal LePage Locations North and Carmine Stemmler from Grey-Bruce Bee Products, Services & Supplies. These individuals know what it takes to run a successful business in the local area and they did a great job to help choose a winner. This year’s competitors were also exceptional. They all brought their “A Game” to the competition and they made it very difficult for the judges to decide a winner. Daniel Caldwell from Sydenham Hill Farm Leather presented to the Dragons in hopes that he could start his own hand-made leather shop. Lynne Lundburg was looking to get her business Transitions started, which focuses on the needs of seniors as they move to smaller houses. Bill Monahan wanted to expand his electronic business, HomeButtons Special Care, as they improve the quality of life for elders and their caregivers through offering independent living solutions. Spencer Wareham from Kilannan Brewery Company Ltd. was asking for the support from the judges so he could continue to develop his Brewery in Rockford. Eric Williams was looking for help so he could purchase new hardware for a 3D printer for his company Rapid-Fire.com. With their goals and presentations ready, this years’ competition was ready to go. At 7:30 p.m. on October 29th, there was almost a full house at the Meaford hall ready to hear the presentations. After 5 great pitches made by the competitors, the judges decided that Spencer Wareham of Kilannan Brewery was deserving of the first place prize. As well, Wareham also won the People’s Choice Award and in total, walked away from the competition with over $17,000 in cash and prizes. The Meaford Dragons’ Den is a great way to learn about the local businesses that we have in our area. Many of the businesses that have entered this competition have gone on to be very strong local businesses. Look out for these businesses in the Municipality of Meaford and definitely check out Meaford Dragons’ Den 2015.

Dragons’ Den Meaford 2012 

The seats in the Meaford Hall were packed on Wednesday October 24th as the 4th annual Meaford Dragons’ Den took place. Show host Wayne McFarlane announced that this is the first year ever that they have had to turn people away at the door. It is not surprising that the show has received so much positive support as it keeps getting bigger and better each year.With an astounding $32,190 in cash and prizes awarded, this year’s results surpassed the whopping $30,000 given at Dragons’ Den Meaford 2011. Winner Jenn Croft of Creative Choices gained overwhelming support from the dragons and the audience. Creative Choices is a health conscious facility in Rockford that provides pre-packaged and catered food for those with special dietary needs. Croft was awarded $16,065 in cash and prizes, including extensive advertising packages from local media outlets. Her delicious baked goods that were distributed at intermission must have won over the audience, since Jenn received the “Audience Choice Award.” Members of the audience were given the opportunity to vote for their favourite contestant by placing their ticket stub in the contestant’s bin at intermission. Five dollars from every ticket and marketing services were granted to the winner, giving Croft an additional $3980 for her business expansion. With well-deserved financial and marketing support, Croft will now be able to purchase the equipment that she desperately needs to expand. Until now, her assistant Nancy Mackison has sliced over one hundred loaves of bread with a simple bread knife each week. Having the funding to purchase a bread slicer and dishwasher will make her business operate more efficiently.Coming in second place was Alistair McCall with his business AM Wood Skateboard Company that sells a unique line of eco-friendly skateboard products. Alistair stated that he is in need of equipment, employees and marketing assistance to prepare for the spring 2013 buying season. McCall won $6745 in cash and prizes to help reach his projected goals for the upcoming season. Alistair won the support of all but one dragon and gained vital marketing tools. Samantha McInnis, owner of Evolve toy store, is allowing McCall to set up a window display at her store during his prime season. Jan Singbeil was also impressed with Alistair. “[I] applaud the attention to eco-friendly materials,” Singbeil stated as she extended him the opportunity to display products at EcoInhabit.Both Renee Renken of R&R Catering and Angela Martin-King of Kingstone Animal CARE were given $500 from one dragon to assist them with their business. In addition, Renken was given an opportunity to utilize the show kitchen at EcoInhabit for a promotional event and Clifton Foo committed to use her catering services for A2A Capital Management’s next event. Angela was also offered to utilize the EcoInhabit facilities and Donna Short’s barn for her pursuit in animal chiropractor practices.Bill Monahan was also vying for support from the dragons for his business expansion. Bill is the owner of HomeBUTTONS Special Care and is looking to upgrade his business to include electronic devices that will assist people with special needs. Although Bill did not receive support in the form of cold hard cash, he was given a great deal of advice on how to move forward with his business. Samantha McInnis urged Monahan to expand his business to provide accessibility items. After all of the feedback throughout the show, it is apparent that all five contestants are now rich with professional guidance. During a clip of last year’s winners, Jamie and Grant Murray advised contestants to take all of the advice from the event and use it. In an interview with the manager of the Chamber of Commerce prior to the event, he stated that “in my own opinion, all of these people will be successful regardless of what happens during the show.”After each Dragons’ Den event, the dedicated committee observes ways to improve the show for next year. This year, the focus was on preparing contestants for speaking in front of a large crowd. After running three workshops and giving the contestants feedback throughout the application process, the contestants appeared much more confident on stage. Barry Altman stated that he was “so impressed by the contestants [and that] they were miles away from anyone we have ever had before.”Another unique aspect to this year’s show was the “Words of Wisdom” clips. Between every contestant’s pitch, a video clip showcasing a local entrepreneur was shared with the vast audience. These “WOW” moments included insight from Grace Lambe of Gramma Lambe’s Orchards, Don Bumstead of Bumstead Motors and Ross Kentner of Bayshore Broadcasting. These clips not only provided a glimpse into Meaford history, but demonstrated the powerful impact of local business, both past and present. Thanks to the help and support of local volunteers, the Chamber staff and the Chamber of Commerce President Shirley Keaveney, Meaford Dragons’ Den 2012 proved to be a terrific event. I know that I speak for the entire town when I say that I am looking forward to seeing next year’s contestants go against the dragons!

Creative Contestants: Dragons’ Den Meaford 2012

The 4th annual Dragons’ Den Meaford challenged contestants to be more prepared and organized than ever before. Beginning with a dozen applications, the new application process filtered out applicants leaving five committed contestants to participate in this year’s show.In recent years the selection committee has opened applications both to existing and new businesses. “We realized that a lot of new business development comes from people that are already in business,” Altman explained. This statement was proven to be true when only pre-existing businesses entered the den this year.  Of the five contestants, each business was equipped with an extensive business plan to further expand their business.With three consecutive sold out shows, it is no wonder that the contestants were nervous before pitching their passion to a full house and five dragons. This year, workshops were held to ease the nerves and reduce stage fright among those taking the stage.Barry Altman, manager of the Meaford Chamber of Commerce, stated that “the quality of the contestants…is better than we have ever had.” After witnessing well-executed pitches from all of the applicants, it is evident that this preparation paid off.The first brave contestant to take the stage was Alistair McCall of AM Wood Skateboard Company. McCall currently sells his eco-friendly skateboards in ten countries and three continents. With a passion for skateboarding, McCall has also been apart of local skateboarding events among the local youth population. His prices are comparable to his competition, although he sets himself apart with his unique focus on environmentally conscious products. Alistair McCall won second place overall, gaining $750 from Chris Rudge, $750 and window advertising at Evolve from Samantha McInnis, $1000 and a display at EcoInhabit from Jan Singbeil and $500 from Clifton Foo. Following McCall’s well-prepared pitch was Renee Renken of R&R Catering. Renee is a Red Seal Chef that has a company catering to small scale functions. Renken aims to expand her business by opening a restaurant and gourmet food shop.  Donna Short of the Rotary Club of Meaford was in for $500 to help Renee with marketing, advertising and purchasing equipment. Clifton Foo of A2A Capital Management also supported Renken by committing to use her catering services for his next event. After the show, I was given an opportunity to speak with Renee Renken about her presentation. “I definitely need to go back, evaluate my business plan [and] think about the business aspect of my business,” Renee said when asked what her next steps are for her catering company. Based on the reoccurring advice from the dragons, Renee also plans to re-examine her prices to be more competitive.The next contestant hoping to gain dragon dollars and advice was Bill Monahan. His current business focuses on installing product and services for the aging demographic, with hopes to expand his electronic installation business. HomeBUTTONS Special Care did not receive any financial support from the dragons, but gained direction in where to take the business from here. The fourth contestant of Dragons’ Den Meaford won over the hearts of the audience and the dragons alike. Jenn Croft owns Creative Choices, a shop in Rockford devoted to providing food for people with special dietary needs. After experiencing an “overwhelming and life changing” experience when her son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, Croft made a commitment to helping others that have had to deal with similar circumstances. Creative Choices was in dire need to update equipment and increase staff members, which is now a reality after winning 1st place in this year’s Dragons’ Den and the “Audience Choice Award.” With all five dragons in, Jenn was awarded $16,065 in cash and prizes. She was also given $3980 in cash and marketing services from the “Audience Choice Award.” After receiving such astounding results, Jenn told reporters that “this [experience] jumpstarts me…now my product line is going to be out there and my cookbooks and that is really important to me.” Lastly, Dr. Angela Martin-King pitched her plan for expanding Kingstone Animal CARE to provide even greater services to local animals. She brought in “Peanut,” a small dog undergoing chiropractic care to recover after an emergency surgery, to demonstrate her business. Wayne McFarlane called Peanut the “best prop we’ve ever had.” Furthermore, her story about helping an injured horse captivated Clifton Foo, causing him to grant her $500 to help broaden her services. “The best piece of advice was that the dragons wanted me to work with the vets and get better contact with them,” Martin-King stated after the show. Although only a first and second place prize was awarded, it is obvious that all five of these contestants have the passion and drive to succeed in their respective businesses. Congratulations to all of the contestants in taking part in the fourth annual Dragons’ Den Meaford.