Creative minds attempt to woo Dragons’ Den producers

Between 3,500 and 4,500 people audition for Dragons’ Den. Of those 250 are invited for filming, though only half will appear on the show.

University of Victoria student

University of Victoria student

Wearing a Scottish kilt, Oak Bay resident John Bernard was the picture of calm as he sat clutching a portfolio of ideas he hoped would impress producers from CBC’s Dragons’ Den TV show Saturday morning.

“I’m a little bit nervous,” he said, surrounded by dozens of entrepreneurs and inventors waiting to audition at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria.

They will learn within the next week and a half whether they’ll be invited to pitch their ideas to the dragons in front of the cameras in Toronto, beginning April 12.

The competition is fierce.

Between 3,500 and 4,500 people audition for the show every year. Of those 250 are invited for filming, though only half will appear on the show.

A small number of presenters will come away with a deal with one or more of the wealthy investors, who currently include Kevin O’Leary, Jim Treliving, Arlene Dickinson, Robert Herjavec and Bruce Croxon.

Bernard hopes to be one of the few who get on the show. He planned to pitch a package of 61 concepts and innovations, from reversing oars to an air-powered car motor, that he hoped to sell to the dragons for $5.

“I’m virtually giving (these ideas) to them,” said Bernard, who considers himself the idea man; and the dragons as the means to turn his ideas into reality.

“The first thing Kevin (O’Leary) would say is, ‘How do I make money?’” Bernard said. “Well, Kevin, you’re the expert.”

Just when producers think they’ve seen every type of pitch imaginable, still more creative ideas come through their door.

Season six contestants, who are now appearing on the show on Wednesday nights, stepped up their game.

“There’s every kind of spectacle,” executive producer Tracie Tigh said, from an opera singer to fire eaters to medieval jousting. “Canada is rife with entrepreneurial talent.”

This audition tour is also turning up some incredible talent, said associate producer Amy Bourne. Their stop in Victoria proved no different.

There were painters, musicians and inventors of several unique products, including a supply bag designed with pizza delivery people in mind. Oak Bay resident Graeme Kilshaw hoped his invention of a unique international language would pique producers’ interest.

“I think going into season seven people sort of know what to expect a little bit more,” Bourne said. “So you see the pitchers come in with really high-calibre pitches.”