2009 Banff – Brett Wilson interview

June 13, 2009

Here is my video interview with CBC Dragons’ Den’s Brett Wilson, where he talks about,

  • What bought him to 2009 Banff World TV Festival?
  • The new Dragons’ Den season.
  • And Brett’s new book!


Uncut Post-season Dragon Interviews

January 12, 2009

Check out these uncut post-season dragon interviews done by CBC. Over two hours of stuff to watch for the true Dragons’ Den fans.

P.S. Special thanks to CBC for posting these full & uncut interviews. You see, my point has always been that the work has been done, paid for, why not simply post the full interviews online somewhere for people who like to watch it? Like CBC posting this full interview of one of my hero, Louise Arbour.

Laurence Lewin Passes Away

November 14, 2008

I am saddened to read the news of the passing of Laurence Lewin.

My thoughts are with Laurence’s family and loved ones in this moment of sadness.

Goodbye Laurence, you are dearly missed by me and many fans of yours (as witness by many people searching for info about you).

Laurence, may you rest in peace.


Nov 18, 2008 Update: I’ve found and included the following obituary published in the Montreal Gazette on 11/13/2008.


Laurence (Laurie) Lewin, the President of La Senza Lingerie Corporation who championed a new era in Canadian lingerie retailing when he co-founded the iconic La Senza Lingerie brand in 1990, passed away Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Montreal. He was sixty-four years old. Mr. Lewin had been under treatment for lung cancer.

Throughout his 35 year career in retailing, he received numerous coveted awards including the distinguished “Canadian Retailer of the Year”. He often remarked with his trademark British humor that he’d become successful because of his enthusiasm for ladies’ knickers. His engaging “Monty Pythonesque” style was colored by a healthy dose of irreverence for established mores which he often openly challenged with great insight and wit, to the delight of those around him.

In 2006, Laurence Lewin also appeared on the highly acclaimed television show “Dragon’s Den” as one of its judges and was deemed by its producers as the “most eccentric of the Dragons”. Irv Teitelbaum, CEO & Chairman of La Senza Corporation, is quoted as saying: “Laurie was one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever known, inspiring everyone he knew to be the best they could ever be. His incredible sense of humor never ceased to entertain others.” Mr. Lewin’s astute intellect was matched only by his generous spirit. His commitment to the community and to those in need was deeply ingrained.

In 1995, he launched La Senza’s Charity Bear Program, which to this date donates proceeds from the sale of keepsake Holiday teddy bears to the Children’s Wish Foundation and to the Canadian Cancer Society. He also supported women’s shelters across Canada with donations of clothing. Another fundraising effort dear to his heart, was the Montreal Walk to End Breast Cancer for which Team La Senza was the largest registered participant group. His ongoing commitment to the Jewish community was also greatly appreciated.

Above all, Laurie loved life and loved people. At company BBQs and country fairs, he regaled children with rides on his vintage fire truck, enjoying himself as much as they did. His passion for sailing and motorcycling brought him great pleasure. He often pulled up to work on his Harley Davidson Road King, in full business attire.

Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Mr. Lewin began his career in the computer industry when he arrived in Montreal in the early 1970s and transitioned into the fashion world. The second child of Maurice and Beatrice Lewin, he worked weekends in his mother’s post wartime shoe shop where he quickly mastered the shopkeeper’s motto “Treat each customer like a valued guest in your own home”. A doting father, grandfather and stepfather, Mr. Lewin loved his family dearly and never missed an opportunity to shower them with affection. Over the years, his close friends from Montreal, St Albans (Vermont) and the United Kingdom became his extended Canadian family as he built lifelong bonds with them. Laurence Lewin, husband, father, friend and mentor to many, deeply touched us all, and his spirit lives on in our hearts.

Published in the Montreal Gazette on 11/13/2008

Delayed Episodes Reviews

November 4, 2008

Sorry in the delays in posting my reviews of the last two episodes (s3-e5 and s3-e6) as I have been spending lots of time on my little red brick house. (big smile)

CBC Dragons’ Contact Info

October 21, 2008

Some people have tried to get in touch with the Dragons by leaving comments in this blog. Well, you can now contact the Dragons directly as their bio & contact info are publicly listed so I don’t feel bad reposting them here. Good luck.

* Arlene Dickinson
email: arlened@openminds.ca
web: http://www.openminds.ca

* Brett Wilson
email: wbrettwilson@firstenergy.com

* Jim Treliving
email: jim.treliving@bostonpizza.com
web: http://www.bostonpizza.com

* Kevin O’Leary
email: info@olearyfunds.com

Note: Robert Herjavec’s contact info is not publicly listed in the above link thus it is not included here.

Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 4 review

October 20, 2008



Moxie Trades – Entrepreneur Marissa McTansey from Oakville, ON is the owner/operator of Moxie Trades which creates workwear for women.

Asking for 600K for 49%. Pink and light blue female sizes and styles work outfit. Sales 600K in last 2 years.

Jim encouraged the entrepreneur to reject a deal (600K for 75%) from Brett and Robert. No deal.

I don’t know about the apparel to comment but I suspect it is very competitive.


Martini and Manicures – Martin Younan has set up shop in London, ON where his business serves martinis while providing manicure and pedicure services.

Million dollar business. If I could drink that martini, may be I will feel better, but otherwise another “entertainment” segment. Sorry, waste of time to look at as a business.


Hardbite – Sepp Amsier from Maple Ridge, BC wants to sell his trans-fat and glueten free potato chips to a larger market.

Sepp is a Swiss trained chef. Tasty chips. In store for 5 years. Sales of 125K last year? Whole food, Organic Planet.

350K for 20%

Jim (and Robert?) made a deal for 350K for 50% Want a say in US market. And need key decisions making power.

How much is a bag of these chips?


Pristine Cart – Sergeo Hristovski from Barrie, ON is the inventor of Pristine Cart which sanitizes dirty shopping carts as you push them through the device.

Not a business. Sad to see the entrepreneur wasted $120K of his money on the idea.


Whale Tail – Myrna Brayford from Alliston, ON is the inventor of the Whale Tale, which holds books open for you while you read.

It is patented? Sorry, bad idea.


Walk and Rol – Gerald & Magella LaPierre from Quebec City, QC invented the Walk n’ Roll which aids mobility for patients with foot and lower leg injuries.

Oh no …


Jane Strap – Carol Clay from Nanaimo, BC has invented the Jane Strap which provides extra support for large breasts while you work out.

Yes. My special thanks to the CBC producers for showing us the breasts. (I won’t repeat my complain of wasting my time, ah, after all, other viewers may enjoy the breasts more than me complain about wasting my time.)


Tidy Trailers – Rob Livingstone & Oliver Wolf from Vancouver, BC want to franchise their growing trash removal service.

Asking for 150K for 30%. This business compete on price alone.

Jim made a deal: 150K for 50%.

If the entrepreneurs are making $100K per person (i.e. $200K for the business) each year, why do they want to sell? I question their business acumen in making such a bad deal for themselves. I also doubt if this business is a good one to get into if their strength is just “lower price”.

James Caan from UK Dragons’ Den on BBC Breakfast

October 18, 2008

Here is James Caan from UK Dragons’ Den on BBC Breakfast. Interesting interview.

The Hour: Kevin O’Leary & Robert Herjavec with George

October 17, 2008

Here is an interesting The Hour chat of Kevin O’Leary & Robert Herjavec with George.

By the way, here is the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Paul Krugman’s video Google Tech Talk on the subprime mess. And the Global Financial Crisis in the words of Nassim “Black Swan”Taleb (YouTube clip of his BBC discussion).

HT: DD Blog

Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 3 review

October 11, 2008


(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)

The following are my brief reviews and comments based on sneak peek of Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 3 pitches/ideas. The lead-in description sentences are from CBC.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t checked out the sneak peek episode yet. Why don’t you subscribe and watch the episode first.

STOP NOW! Watch the sneak peek first!


Eco Anti Freeze – These entrepreneurs from Delta, BC run a business that repurposes anti-freeze in Vancouver and they’re looking to expand.

This money making business looks good in the beginning but then their pitch and the knowledge of their business just failed to impress. A note on pitching, it is the entrepreneurs’ duty and responsibility to organize and present a well honed pitch that works for the occasion. If the investors are confused by your pitch, don’t expect them to just sit there and let you go on. They will and should interrupt. Why? If they don’t interrupt, that means you’ve lost them and lost their interest and their minds are starting to wander off and not focus on your pitch. So let them interrupt but be very prepared to have good answers.

Now, the fact that there is no patented technologies mean that this business’ competitive advantage is not durable. If someone sees money to be made, they will come in and have the ability to take over the market if they wish to. Of course, the business may still be a good small business making decent money. It is just not something for investors.


Buster Rhino – Darryl & Beth Koster from Whitby, ON are pitching their award-winning authentic southern barbecue sauce.

$536K sales last year, pretty good but unfortunately they didn’t make any money last year after expenses. Now, the product tastes good, according to the Dragons but Jim, the most knowlegable food expert didn’t invest cause me concerns.

I like the fact that Darryl, by cold calling, managed to land the product on the shelf of Costco.

So 200K for 51% of the company allows Robert and Brett the control of the business direction of the company and how the money will be spent (wisely). So it may work out as an investment.

I have seen successful UK Drgaons’ Den entrepreneur having a successful sauce business. And the national exposure of Dragons’ Den (first runs now, and repeat broadcast later) should create some good word of mouth and generate some free marketing and publicity. How much it cost for a 6 minutes national TV non-ad? Well, probably more than $200K! So good luck to the entrepreneurs, Robert and Brett.


Back Buddy – Cheryl, Crystal & Kelly McEwen are a mother/daughter team from DeWinton, Alberta have invented the Back Buddy — a handle that allows a person to put on lotion on their back.

Thanks to the DD producers, I get to look at the two beautiful daughters. A hobby business at best.


Steemee Wonder – Jerry Coogan & Joane Daoust from Montreal, QC have created their own way of making steamed hot dogs.

Haven’t sold any units. Sorry, this is not really a business.


Amphibicraft – David Murphy from Prescott, ON has invented the Amphibicraft — a multi-functional all-terrain vehicle.

Here is an advice to inventors: Your coolest inventions may not be of use to anyone. And your friends and relatives’ opinions don’t count because they are trying to be NICE !!!!

Better, buy and read the auto-biography by one of the best inventor and businessman alive – James Dyson. To all the inventors and aspiring inventors out there, it will do you well by learning a thing or two from James. He is good but it took him a long time and a lot of trials.


Bubbie’s Best – Lorne Morein, Taneen Khan & Mark Rutledge from Toronto, ON want to sell their kosher baby food to a mass market.

Three recent business grad with an idea that is too small in the higher competitive food baby food business.


Ski and Skate – Giovanna Giancaspro from Montreal, QC has invented a training harness to teach children to ski and skate.

The amount money that is asked of is just silly and unrealistic. This is one horrible pitch but one that entrepreneurs can and should learn a thing or two in the “What Not To Do” department. The Dragons were right in grilling her and questioning her.


Quicksnap – David Reynolds from Halifax, NS has invented a snap for shoes which eliminates need for shoelaces.

Sold 15,000 units. Patented. Sold for $5 each. One entrepreneur put in $100,000 into the business.

$125K for 50%. Plus Brett will put an order (as a donation, I suppose) to buy one for each serving military members in Afghanistan.

Now, I have never made or sold anything to the military. But if the products are going to be officially used, don’t the clips (even small) have to pass some sort of DND testing process (e.g. temperature, chemical, durability, etc)?


Saxx – Like that story. The prize money. And the national and internet exposures must have helped. So this, to me, is a good reason to pitch on Dragons’ Den for some entrepreneurs.

CBC Dragons’ Den Sneak Peek

October 11, 2008

After sneak peeking two episodes of Dragons’ Den before it airs by simply subscribing to CBC’s Dragons’ Den newsletters, I am sold.

I think “subscribe to sneak peek” is a great way to draw Dragons’ Den fans’ attention and even love the show more to a dangerous level! I love these sneak peeks.

Now, I think CBC is also smart in opening up its shows (DD, Fifth Estate, The Hour, etc) this way to keep the shows’ fans informed and engaged. Keeping the audience and spreading to new audiences (friends of fans) when a particular show episode is really good and the links are forwarded.

If you live in Canada, subscribe to CBC’s Dragons’ Den newsletters and have a sneak peek of the next episode to be aired Monday.

Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 2 review

October 6, 2008


(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)

The following are my brief reviews and comments on the Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 2 pitches/ideas. The lead-in description sentences are from CBC.


CBC has decided to try something new by putting the episode on the internet before it is shown on TV. As a fan, I like the idea of watching the show before it is shown on TV. The fact that I still have the TV tuned at Dragons’ Den is a proof that it didn’t hurt the TV rating (in my household). :)


Canada Caps – Walter Bujalski from Toronto, ON says that his patriotic hats could be to Canada what the Sombrero is to Mexico.

Sorry, the cap looks ugly. And it is not really a business.


E-Student (estudent.ca) – Kathy DaSilva from Victoria, BC has developed software to help children learn.

250K for 30%. What Kevin put on the table was not an offer. So the only deal is from Arlene’s. Good to hear Kathy has a viable business with good sales ($500,000) already. The price Arlene offered (250K for 50%) might have been too low, but Kathy probably can use some good help from Arlene to help grow the business. Good luck Kathy.


ePawn World – Craig Benfield from Montreal, QC wants to take pawn shops online where people can buy & sell items they would normally bring to a retail pawn shop.

50K for 50%. A waste of the viewers’ time.


Lipstixx – Diane Mackie from Barrie, ON has developed this top-coat application designed to keep lipstick on longer.

Sorry, not interested. Cosmetic is just too competitive like the dragons said.


AFAST Supertank – Jason Eastwood from Calgary, AB wants to take old army tanks and convert them into fire fighting machines.

Jason seems to be quite nice but the Dragons’ critiques are very valid and I think the fire-fighting tank is just way too expensive to be practical.


Curling Stones – Joe Dumouchelle from Windsor, ON has invented a curling stone with wheels so you can play on dry surfaces.

Cute but I don’t see a business here.


Rim Roller – Paul Kind from Russell, ON has invented a device which rolls up the rim on coffee cups.

150K for 25%. Kevin’s comment is right that it is not to the coffee shops advantage to have customers claim more prizes. Paul has made $100,000 from this tool. May be Paul has a small business here.


Aerial Angles – Allison Williams from Ottawa, ON & Zay Weaver are fire eating acrobatic street performers who are ready to entertain the Dragons.

Nice to look at but I am very surprised that Brett made a $250,000 investment for half of the business. Brett’s view is that in a portfolio of entertainment and sports businesses, he can afford to have some failed businesses and as long as some of them are hits, then he might make money off the portfolio as a whole. For me, this is too risky a business and for $250,000 is just way too much to pay, in my humble opinion. The likes of Cirque du Soleil and creative and visionary people like Guy Laliberté are hard to come by. Mind you, I wonder if the publicity from Dragons can bring enough additional business for the Aerial Angles?


9th Oct, 2008 Update: Allison left me a comment with their website, so I have added their website and I also decided to include this pretty cool promo video. Good luck to them all.

W. Brett Wilson on “Experiences From a Survivor” – Prostaid Calgary

October 6, 2008

It may seem simple but we have to take care of ourselves (including our health) before we can enjoy the fruits of our labour.

So I truly appreciate Brett sharing his personal experience at Prostaid Calgary in his “Experiences From a Survivor” presentation (Google video).

Now, for the female entrepreneurs out there, I participated in the 2008 CIBC Run for the Cure yesterday and I’ve included some important information about breast cancer in my CIBC Run entry there.

I think there are some truth in saying “health before money”, so let me wish you the best of health.

Lessons on Patent Litigation

October 3, 2008

Until entrepreneurs have seen their patent(s) being challenged or infringed, they like to think having applied for a patent or having an issued patent means they are protected. Which is very far from the truth.

This is why I appreciate very much the effort of Mike Dillon, my blog friend and General Counsel of Sun Microsystems, in shedding light and educate us all using Sun’s own ongoing and current patent dispute with NetApps as example. Here is Mike’s latest (Oct 2nd, 2008) update on Sun’s NetApp litigation.

In some sense, the entrepreneurs’ technology or patent area may be very different from Sun’s but there are much core insight to be gained for those that are willing to learn.

P.S. You can find my interview with Mike here.


6th Oct, 2008 Update: NetApps’ patents claims are being further rejected left, right and centre.

W. Brett Wilson on CBC News

October 3, 2008

Here is Brett on CBC News.

HT: CBC DD official blog.

Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 1 review

September 29, 2008


(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)

The following are my brief reviews and comments on the Dragons’ Den Season 3 episode 1 pitches/ideas. The lead-in description sentences are from CBC.


The Dragons’ dynamics between Arlene, Brett, Jim, Kevin, and Robert works out nicely.


Fit 2 Touch – by Peter Pereira and Edna Melculj from Mississauga, ON

They are personal trainers who were making a workout DVD designed for couples when they ended up falling in love.

- Asking $100,000 for 50% of business. $24.99 per DVD. Sold 300 so far.

The couple are cute to look at but cute couple doesn’t mean there is a viable business.


KickSpike – by Darrel & Colleen Bachman from Penticton, BC

They have invented a golf shoe which solves the problem of ruined greens due to spikes.

- $1 million for 10% of business.

- Entrepreneurs claim to have obtain a solid worldwide patent.

* Final deal is five dragons split $1 million for 30% of company ** contingent ** on the entrepreneurs getting a licensing deal.

* I want to make a special comment on Brett making an initial deal of 25% and the discussions that came after. Ultimately, Brett asked the entrepreneurs if they would let him off that deal and have a new deal with all five dragons for 30% of the company, a potentially better deal with more expertise. It is important for Brett and I think it is the right thing to do in asking for the entrepreneurs’ release.

* Now, this deal is “contingent” on getting a licensing deal first. To me, it is very close to a risk-less “investment”. There is no investment, no money down, when there is no licensing deal.

I won’t mind investing $1 million for 30% of someone’s lottery tickets ** contingent ** on one of the ticket is a winning $30 million ticket. :)


Kuli Kuli – by Pedro Baquero from Toronto, ON

Pedro invented this booty-shaking game after watching videos on MTV.

Big smile but not a business at all.


Bee Gone – by Tom Filler from Kitchener, ON

Tom has come up with a unique approach to getting rid of bees.

Asking for $50,000. No go at all.


Pizza Pak – by Ron Fisher from Toronto, ON

Ron has designed a plastic pizza case that would replace cardboard boxes and help reduce waste.

Asking for $500,000 for 50%

Unworkable idea. Not worth my time to review and critique it. Jim said it all, returnable pizza box is a no go.

Very sad that Ron just doesn’t get it even Jim gave him a straight forward critique.


Wrinkles – by Shari Petro from Milton, ON

She has written a reality book for kids from the perspective of her pug dog, Wrinkles.

* $100K for 30%

* Oh, no. An entire business empire based on the dog Wrinkles. No go. Forget about it. Not really a business.

Kevin is toying with the entrepreneurs, as he likes to do it sometime. Bad habit dies hard, I suppose.


The Litter House – by Daniel Dykens & Robert English from Orangeville, ON

They have created a deluxe cat litter box that keeps mess & odour contained.

- $100,000 for 10% of business

Cute cat. But simply bad business. Worked on it for 8 years? a cat house for $80. Not a good use of time.


Hybrid Backpack – by Aphirath Vongnaraj from Winnipeg, MB

Aphirath has invented a backpack which can be attached to a bicycle.

$2 million for 30%. No good. And just bad.


Softshell Computers – by Raul Rupsingh & Steven Breath from London, ON

They are software engineers who have developed an interface for seniors to send & receive email & photos.

- 200K for 30%

- Touch screen. User interface. Beta tester use it for 10 months.

- Arlene, Jim, Robert – 200K for 50%. They’ve got connections.

They see a business in this but I don’t. I guess thats why they are investing in it and I am not. :)

Some videos to watch before DD starts in 2 days

September 27, 2008

Here are some fun and cool videos to watch before CBC Dragons’ Den is to start in 2 days.

Two more weeks till Season 3

September 15, 2008

Wow, it is only two more weeks till Season 3 of CBC Dragons’ Den starts on Sept 29th, 2008. I am very much looking forward to watching and reviewing some pitches and businesses.

Now, may be I am too strict on this (I think I am stricter than CBC), here is what I have been telling Dragons’ Den entrepreneurs who want me to feature them before the season starts.

In keeping with my “tradition” of not featuring any entrepreneurs (whether they will surely be on TV or not on TV), I am sorry that I won’t be able to feature your business. [...]

As I have been telling all aspiring Dragons‘ Den entrepreneurs that I’ve come into contacts with, I admire every single one of them as they had taken the challenging first step to try to create a viable business. Some will be more successful than others, but that is the nature of business.

First Tax Fraudster on Dragons’ Den?

September 9, 2008

Well, this is a case that shows why due diligence is extremely important. I just noticed that Vancouver Sun has reported in June 2007 “Promoter of SmartCD nailed for tax fraud, fined $75,000“. (or visit this June 20th, 2007 CanWest MediaWorks full Canada.com link to read full article)

I remember when I spent 2+ hours to do my due diligence/research on SmartCD (see my season 1 episode 5 review), I wrote as bluntly as I could without getting myself in any potential legal trouble of saying the SmartCD technology is likely unworkable. Here is an excerpt from Vancouver Sun’s June 2007 report (or visit this June 20th, 2007 CanWest MediaWorks full Canada.com link to read full article),

The [Canada Revenue] agency said that to generate refunds under the federal Scientific Research and Experimental Development program, Ross submitted $385,359 in expenses he claimed had been incurred by his company, Systemhac Corp., which is developing the SmartCD.

These expenses included payments to employees who never received the money, and photocopies of cheques and invoices that proved to be forgeries.

During a search of Ross’s home and the offices of his accountant, CRA investigators found a cheque that had been altered with correction tape. Photocopies of that cheque had been provided to CRA to support Ross’s tax credit claim. Had the claim been accepted, the company would have received a $134,876 tax credit to which it was not entitled.

On June 4, Ross pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud in Robson Square Provincial Court. On Tuesday, he was fined $75,000 and given a 12-month conditional sentence.

Here is a YouTube clip of Arie Ross’ Dragons’ Den contest entry.

Here is Arie talking to Sean.

Patent Examination: The Search

August 8, 2008
Dragonfly by Buck!

Dragonfly by Buck!

OK, Dragons’ Den fans who read this blog know that I have a thing for patents. Readers uninterested about patents can skip this.

Most inventors are very sure that their patents are solid and will give them “world” protection. Of course, looking at patent protection objectively, patent strength varies in degree (from real solid all the way to some invalid patents) and there is, strictly speaking, no such thing as a “world patent“. At the end of the day inventors still need to pay and apply to obtain patents from each and every countries that they want patent protection (in this brief entry, I won’t go into the details of PCT or talk about Japan). And inventors sometimes do “unintentionally” claim they have a patent when they only have a patent application (quite a difference between the two).

In the following blog entry, a patent examiner shares some insights and what he/she considers as “The Most Important Part of the Process” – The Search.

P.S. I should also link to one of my favourite free online video about patents, “How to Review a Patent Application?“.


August 6, 2008
Dragonfly by Buck!

Dragonfly by Buck!

Although it wasn’t quite Jodie Foster‘s kind of Contact, I was a bit surprised and delighted to be contacted by an excited season 3 Dragons’ Den entrepreneur whose business is going to be featured in the season 3 premiere.

Now, I haven’t taken much time to review their website and stuff but they already have a website built, a facebook fan group created, a facebook event/party to remind their friends/fans to watch the show.

So I consider the above steps as the basic minimum things Draongs’ Den entrepreneurs should be doing to promote their businesses/products (regardless of whether if the entrepreneurs got invested by the dragons).

Of course, if the products are any good, they should be ready for sale before the new season of Dragons’ Den starts. Entrepreneurs, the time to debug and test your e-commerce/online selling system is now! NOT after your episode is aired and you find out, oops, there is a bug in your e-commerce system! After all, it will be kind of nice to use your Dragons’ Den exposures (with tens of thousands viewers across the country) as free TV ads and help new fans of your products spend some money when they have the urge to do so (right after seeing how cool your products are on national TV).

Good luck and have fun.


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