Two New Glasgow natives are about to enter the Dragons’ Den.
Jeff Davis and Seth Rozee are leaving early next week to pitch their business StashBelt on the CBC venture capital show.
StashBelt is a brand of high quality money belts, the pair developed that will hold a USB drive for important files as well as cash or other small items. Their belts are made by craftspeople in Kenya, where Davis was working several years ago as a journalist. The belts are designed to be used by people travelling who want to keep their items safe and out of sight. Last year the pair took part in a crowdsourcing campaign to help grow their business, with tremendous results.
“Our crowd sourcing campaign raised like $10,000 in one month,” Rozee said.
They found themselves scurrying to catch up with orders and now employ about 12 people in Kenya, providing much needed jobs in the impoverished country. They ship the product from a hub here in Nova Scotia.
The pair are hoping for the chance to expand even further as they compete for funding from the Dragons’ Den.
Rozee said it was actually a last minute decision for Davis to audition for the show. He was in Saskatchewan and heard about the opportunity.
“Jeff heard on a whim that they were in town doing auditions and wasn’t really prepared for it,” Rozee said.
Still, he was able to impress the judges enough to get the chance to formerly compete.
Aside from providing a lot of publicity for their business, Rozee hopes that this competition will give them the financial resources to move ahead.
“Like any small business we are under capitalized. We have a ton of opportunity but now need the funds,” he said. “We’d like to invest in some additional machinery for the shop to further mechanize the process and we’d like to employ more people. Our goal setting out has always been to create jobs.“
He and Davis have been busy preparing for the show even though they’re in different parts of the country right now.
“We’ve been meeting by Skype every other night and practicing our pitch and figuring out what our asks are and what we are going to do,” he said.
They’ve also been communicating with Dragons’ Den producers in preparation.
“The amount that happens behind the scenes is crazy,” Rozee said. “Most pitches on the show last for four or five minutes, but those pitchers were in front of the Dragons for an hour an half.”
This next season of Dragons’ Den will be a bit different with Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon both stepping down. Rozee said he’s looking forward to presenting before an new panel.
He believes their focus on making a profit while also being socially responsible by creating jobs in third world country will help sell their business to the dragons.
If nothing else he hopes it encourages other entrepreneurs in Pictou County.
“I’d like to encourage people in New Glasgow to follow their dreams and if they have a business idea that they should really go after it,” he said. “If we had never taken the first steps we would never have made it this far.”
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