As a schoolteacher, I had many parents over the years ask me to create visual schedules, similar to what I made for the front of my classroom, to help their kids at home with morning and after-school routines. I did the research and discovered that there was nothing out there like it and decided to make it into a product. So I did extra tutoring and sold crafts to save up for the $1,400 I needed to make my first batch of product. I launched by word of mouth and somehow it became a viral discovery and was named the number one back-to-school must have in several media, including Parents magazine. I went from two to 26 to 67 stores and I was assembling everything at my kitchen table often until 3 a.m. Then my husband and I bought a booth at the Canadian Toy Fair and we picked up 20 more stores. Orders were coming in faster than we could keep up. I needed help to take the business to the next level. When we came home to Maple Ridge, BC, after the Toy Fair my husband googled Dragons’ Den and there was an audition that weekend. We did it and were asked to come to Toronto to tape an episode for season six. The plan was to look for expertise in manufacturing, distribution and marketing. We did our research on each of the Dragons and what they could offer. We took our three children who were 2, 4 and 7 at the time. It was a crazy experience. We were all sick with bronchitis and my youngest vomited when we got to the studio. I remember thinking it can only get better.
I stopped teaching last April because Easy Daysies keeps me so busy. We recently signed a licensing deal with a U.S. company and we are just about to launch in Australia, Ireland and France.
Going on the Den is the number one business 101 course you can take because it makes you think about your business in ways that you don’t when you’re caught up working in it. It makes you think about your numbers, your business plan, where you see your business three years from now, five years from now. When we got down the stairs and saw those stern-looking Dragons, it was intimidating. We were told we’d be on for anywhere from five minutes to 45 minutes and we were there for 48 minutes. We asked for $70,000 in exchange for 35% of the business and we incited a bidding war between all five Dragons before accepting an offer from Jim Treliving and Kevin O’Leary. One thing I respect about all the Dragons is they’ve worked hard to get where they are. Jim is a true example of that. Kevin O’Leary created an educational software program in his basement and sold it for $4 billion.
As soon as the taping was done and we were still on cloud nine thinking did that really happen, we met with the investors’ right-hand people who informed us of next steps and what the due diligence process would be like. Ours took about five months; we were told Easy Daysies was the first deal to be completed for season six. The deal did change in due diligence – in our favour.
We’ve gone from 67 stores when we taped the episode to more than 1,500 across North America. I believe it takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur. You have to be someone who initiates and instigates. Kevin O’Leary joked with me that I often beat him to things because I would guess at a CEO’s email address and email them not knowing it was someone he would have connected us with. I got us into Chapters before he could help us. I called Staples, made an appointment and we are now in Staples. It’s a crazy ride. I stopped teaching last April because Easy Daysies keeps me so busy. We recently signed a licensing deal with a U.S. company and we are just about to launch in Australia, Ireland and France. Whenever I’m asked to speak at entrepreneur events, I say you have to have an absolute passion for what you are doing because that’s what will sustain you. Easy Daysies is a product that is recommended by child psychologists, occupational therapists and physicians to families of children with special needs. I get lots of emails from families sharing how Easy Daysies has helped them. That’s what keeps me going at 3 a.m.
Elaine Tan Comeau
Elaine Tan Comeau is a mother of three young children, a wife, an elementary school teacher, and the creator and CEO of Easy Daysies, a multiple award-winning product line of magnetic schedules for children. Tan Comeau was recently awarded the 2014 Canadian Mompreneur of the Year. Easy Daysies was also chosen by Ford Company as one of nine of the 2014 Dragons' Den Driven For Success Companies that exemplified Ford's Four Pillars of Success. Here she shares what it’s like to enter the Den and pitch the Dragons and life after the CBC hit reality TV show.