Graham and Pam Bavington, owners of the Hee-Haw Horseradish company. (Don Denton Photography/Submitted)

After the Dragons: Vancouver Island

Business owners credit the popular show, Dragons’ Den, with giving them exposure

They started from scratch and managed to stare dragons in the face.

After making appearances on CBC’s popular show Dragons’ Den, these entrepreneurs continue to work hard at their businesses and are thankful for being able to pitch their ideas on national television.

Chris Cordray appeared on Dragons’ Den in 2012 to pitch his product, Delivery Mate. Delivery Mate is a satchel for pizza delivery drivers to carry things like debit machines, extra pop, dip and menus.

Cordray spent 14 years working in the pizza industry as a driver, manager and part owner before he came up with this product. A deal was struck on the television show but it didn’t finalize, Cordray said. Despite that, Cordray said the show gave his product exposure with pizza companies ordering his bags for their drivers.

“It’s still doing well, it’s still active,” Cordray said.

Cordray has also ventured into another delivery business called Add2cart. He said he has partnered with furniture stores on the mainland, such as IKEA and Crate and Barrel, and delivers furniture to the Island.

“Dragons’ Den was a positive thing for the business,” Cordray said. “Every time there’s a rerun there’s a surge in sales sometimes too.”

READ MORE: Langford entrepreneur marches into the Dragons’ Den

Graham and Pam Bavington of Hee-Haw Horseradish appeared on the Dragons’ Den holiday special in 2016, two years after they came up with the idea for their product.

The episode showed that the couple received four offers from the dragons. They took an offer of $75,000 for 15 per cent of the company from Manjit Minhas. However, Graham Bavington said the deal ended up not going through.

Regardless, Bavington said business has still been moving and being on the show has helped the company grow.

“Business continues, it’s going well,” Bavington said.

The operation is still family run but the production of horseradish moved to a federally inspected kitchen in Vancouver about six months ago. This means they can now qualify for FDA approval.

Bavington said the product is being sold in four provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — and they’re hoping to get it into Ontario soon. Production in their new kitchen should help them do that, Bavington said.

“It’s such a big market that we just need to be sure we can make enough,” Bavington said.

The same recipe is still being used and the horseradish is continuing to be made in small batches.

Bavington said being on the show brought a lot of traffic to their website and he said the company is in a good position to grow.

READ MORE: Hee-Haw Horseradish founders spice things up

Sooke-based fudge company — Fudge in A Round — also has the show to thank for an increase in sales.

Kelly DeRocco and her husband, Paul, were on the show last fall and let the dragons have a taste of their fudge. Kelly DeRocco said they didn’t expect to get the call to go to Toronto for the show and while they didn’t make any deals with the dragons, found it was a valuable experience.

“It did help,” DeRocco said. “We went from two stores and now we’re at 12 stores.”

DeRocco said they spent one hour with the dragons but only seven minutes of their interaction aired on television.

In that time, DeRocco said they were able to make some contacts through one of the dragons, Jim Treliving, with WestJet.

Now, DeRocco said WestJet will be serving their fudge on inaugural flights and for special events.

“I almost think it’s better not getting a deal because you have so many more opportunities to do things,” DeRocco said.

The episode was re-aired this August and DeRocco said that brought on an increase in orders as well as a phone call from a chain that is willing to sell their product.

DeRocco said she and her husband are still the only ones producing the fudge and they can make 2,500 to 3,000 units of fudge per day if needed.

“It was the experience of a lifetime and I think it has helped us as far as approaching higher-ups in business,” DeRocca said. “If we had the guts to go on national TV and talk to these six dragons, then we can accomplish almost anything.”

READ MORE: Sooke fudge company on Dragons’ Den Nov. 2

Victoria’s FATSO peanut butter aired on Dragons’ Den just over one month ago.

Jill Van Gyn, owner of the all-natural peanut butter product, said shortly after the episode aired, suppliers were interested in her product immediately. Her ask on the show was $200,000 for 15 per cent of her company.

Van Gyn received four offers in the episode and she made a handshake deal with Arlene Dickinson, who offered $200,000 for 30 per cent of the company.

However, Van Gyn later met with her to formalize the deal with new numbers. FATSO peanut butter has been evaluated at twice its original amount and Van Gyn wanted the deal to reflect that. In the end, Van Gyn walked away from the deal.

Now, she said there are local investors offering more money and more support. “It really worked out well for us.”

As of Oct. 25, FATSO peanut butter will be funded for the next year.

In December, FATSO will begin working with a national distributor and in 2022, Van Gyn has plans to spread her business to America.

“We’re certainly growing faster than we ever expected, and whenever we think things are going to slow down something else blows up,” Van Gyn said.

READ MORE: Victoria’s FATSO one month after Dragons’ Den deal

With files from Keili Bartlett.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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