Around 50 entrepreneurial Okanagan residents faced the producers of the Dragon’s Den on Wednesday hoping to nail a spot on the popular Canadian show.
Auditions for the ninth season were held at Okanagan College in Kelowna and the attendance was so high producers had to split up so they could see more auditions.
“We are looking for entrepreneurs, anyone who came up with their idea yesterday to people that have been running family businesses for like 10-15 years, anyone who is looking for cash to basically grow their business and take it to the next level,” explained Priscilla Sreedharan, Associate Producer on Dragon's Den
Sreedharan says throughout the day they had seen a variety of businesses, from fully formed and profitable businesses to people with just a creative idea.
“I would say the main theme of the day has been food; food, food, food,” laughs Sreedharan.
“We have seen everything food today and mostly related to the health food market; granola bars, cereal mixes, protein bites, protein bars and we've had beer.”
In fact that local Kelowna ‘beer’ was the company that really caught Sreedharan’s attention for the day.
“The company that really stood out to me today was 'Bone Beer.' They are a local beer company, from here in Kelowna, and basically their idea is to sell beer by outdoorsman for outdoorsman,” explained Sreedharan.
“So their branding is really cool lots of skulls for the hunting and fishing market. They were really great, they were just average Joes that were sort of like 'hey, I like beer and I like hunting and I like doing all these sorts of things’.”
Another local guy vying for a chance to enter the Dragon’s Den was Vernon’s Calvin Hoy.
After a long wait to see Producer Sreedharan he was able to sell his personally developed Mama Hogg’s Grilled Caesar Salad Dressing.
“I sold my practice two years ago and retired and I cook,” explains
Calvin Hoy, Owner, Creator and Operator of Momma Hogg's.
“I have developed hundreds of recipes over the years and there are two that I would never give out because I said one day when I retire I am going to bottle it.”
And bottle it he did. In fact, according to Hoy, his product is flying off the shelves in Vernon and Kelowna and he simply can’t keep up with the demand.
In his commercial kitchen that he rents from a local non-profit organization in Vernon, he is whipping up 40 gallons or over 400 bottles a week of the Caesar elixir.
“Now, I literally want to take it to the next step, national distribution,” said Hoy.
The story of how the name came to be is also a good one, all starting from his teen years where he competed in the free-style skiing circuit.
“In my first competition I entered, my last name was Hoy and the ‘y’ I wrote at 16-years-old looked like a ‘g’ and the announcer called me Calvin Hog for three days of the competition,” he laughs. “At 16 that stuck like glue, so to this day there are some people that still call me Hog.”
The producers of the show were pleased with the auditions from the Okanagan as well as the overall vibe.
“People are excited I think about the idea of getting cash to grow their business, or the idea of meeting the Dragons and possibly getting a contact to help them expand and those sort of things,” said Sreedharan.
There were no Simon Cowel-esque yes or nos or you’re terrible at the auditions today, just a chance to catch attention.
“There is no golden ticket on Dragon's Den, basically it is a really simple process here. They just audition to us and then we take it back to our team in Toronto, and then we all decide together who is going to come on the show.”
Those who auditioned in Kelowna can expect a phone call in the next three weeks as to whether or not they were chosen to go to Toronto to shoot Dragon's Den.
If you missed out on the audition Wednesday, interested entrepreneurs can always apply online for the show.