We Faced The Dragons on CBC's Dragons' Den!

We Faced The Dragons on CBC's Dragons' Den!

Hey guys! Xenia here.

Since the announcement of Threads’ Dragons’ Den air date, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about our experience, so I thought it would be helpful to write out a blog post about it.

Background / Decision to Apply

I remember Dragons’ Den from when I was a little kid, having watched episodes in high school and university. Since starting Threads, many people have suggested we apply to pitch, as it would be both great exposure for us, as well as an incredible opportunity to strike a partnership with some of Canada’s most iconic investors.

We actually were contacted by one of the producers back in January 2021, when they were starting to cast Season 16. They told us we were on a list of businesses to watch and that we should think about applying. I decided against applying that season as I wanted to wait until we launched our Threads For Men line, which was supposed to happen later in the year in September 2021. As you already know, one of our missions is to make hosiery for men more mainstream and one way we can do that is by creating broader representation through bringing more attention to it. I thought that having Threads on Dragons’ Den – talking about our brand and diverse range of customers on national television – would be a great way to do that.

The Audition Process

Fast forward to January 2022, when we saw that the auditions were open again for the new season, we submitted our application online. The application involved filling out a form along with recording a 60 second video of your pitch. In February, we were notified that we were selected to do a Zoom interview/audition with the producers. The producer audition was about an hour long with two producers from the team.

Threads auditioning in front of producers for CBC's Dragons' Den
(Auditioning in front of the Dragons Den producers via Zoom in my office)

In April 2022, we got a call saying we made it to the next round, which is the taped pitch to the Dragons! We booked a filming slot for the first week of May, which meant we had one month to prepare our pitch and get everything ready for the filming.

What We Did To Prepare

Between being notified that we were moving to the next round and our pitch date in front of the Dragons, we had about one month to prepare. To get an idea of what they would be asking, I watched a ton of different Dragons’ Den episodes, especially ones in the apparel sector. I also reached out to a few friends who had been on the show previously to get tips (thank you Three Ships Beauty, Good Food For Good and Willful!).

Here are the most common tips they shared:

  • Make your pitch fun, dramatic and TV-worthy
  • Know your numbers well
  • Have a reasonable valuation

We were paired off with one of the producers who worked with us to have our 90-second elevator pitch polished, get the relevant props, and prepare for our “entrance”. The way it works is that you have 90 seconds to give your elevator pitch and then the rest of it is Q&A by the Dragons. You can be in the den anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours (which apparently was the record for longest time in the den). Lastly, the final clip gets edited down to about 10 minutes (which is what you see on TV). I practiced my 90-second pitch in front of our team, as well as for family and friends! I had them throw all sorts of different types of questions at me in preparation for Threads’ time in the den. We also prepared little product baskets for each of the Dragons, so they could see our product and the packaging and touch and feel.

Threads product baskets for the Dragons on Dragons' Den
(We prepared Threads product baskets for each of the Dragons)

A Little *Drama* The Day Before

We planned to have two models with us - one female and one male. The afternoon before our pitch day, I was spending time with family when I looked at my phone and saw 3 missed calls and several text messages from our male model. He had just tested positive for COVID and was thus unable to model at our pitch the next day. This left us less than 24 hours to find a new model to replace him! Our entire team went into action, in search of a male model who could take his spot. After a few hours of phone calls and scrambling, we ended up adding Mason, who is a cheer teammate of our female model Brooklyn (who you may have seen in our other product photos). So, it all worked out in the end (phew!), but it definitely was a stressful few hours.

The Day Of

Our call time was noon, which meant that upon our arrival, we had to be ready to wait up to 8 hours to be called into the den! The time slots are vague due to the unpredictable length of each of the pitches scheduled during the day. We were given a makeshift room/area to wait in where we were able to practice using the props for the first time, which were made by the set construction team at CBC. Our producer that we worked with was based in Calgary, so we FaceTimed her and practiced the pitch a few more times.

Behind the scenes on Dragons' Den
(Backstage with Brooklyn and Mason, our two models, getting ready to pitch!)

Finally, we were called in and we had our mics put on. Walking into the set was super surreal! The entire segment was filmed in one take, with the exception of the walk-in and walk-out part. Our time in the den flew by. I remember walking out, thinking I’d been in there for 15 minutes, and one of the producers looked at me like I had five heads before telling me it had actually been 1 hour and 20 minutes! I guess I somewhat blacked out? Haha, not actually, but I felt like I could’ve been in there for a lot longer; there was so much more to tell about our story and the business.

Overall Thoughts/Reflections

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am incredibly grateful for this experience. I am so thankful for all the support I received during the prep and also in the weeks following our announcement and leading up to the big day! You can catch our episode on Thursday October 27 on CBC and CBC Gem (or watch it here after the airing if you can’t catch it live). Any other questions? I’ll be hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) the morning after the airing (Friday October 28) on our Instagram page.

I’ll be doing a Part 2 blog post after the air date to reflect on my takeaways and give some tips to entrepreneurs who are interested in applying for the next season.

As always, thank you for your support! We appreciate you so much and Threads wouldn’t be here without you guys!

All my love and gratitude,
Xenia

Threads Founder Xenia Chen on Dragons' Den


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