Stories From the Den: Lee Roller, Custom Tattoo Design

Stories From the Den: Lee Roller, Custom Tattoo Design

Lifestyle | Posted by - August 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

From the minute I headed to the studio to shoot Dragons’ Den at 6:45 a.m., things went poorly. I had to navigate downtown parking, and I lost both my models last minute and had to ask friends to fill in. Once I walked into the CBC building there were people everywhere with props and large groups. The unknown made it more nerve-racking than anything. It wasn’t pitching my business or getting the investment that was hard that morning, it was wondering if I was in the right place, if my props were going to pass inspection to get on TV, if my clothes looked good for the set. But once the process began it all seemed to go by extremely fast. We had no idea what order we were going in or how long it would take. Furthermore we didn’t get to meet the Dragons prior to the shoot or even talk to anyone about the process.

As I was sitting in the staging room thinking about what I was going to say, I really didn’t feel nervous. I knew my business inside and out, which took a lot of the nerves out of the actual pitch.

As I was sitting in the staging room thinking about what I was going to say, I really didn’t feel nervous. I knew my business inside and out, which took a lot of the nerves out of the actual pitch. Once they called me up and we got ready to head in, I gave a brief pre-shoot interview where I explained that I was about to meet the Micheal Jordans of business. Having said that, you can’t walk on stage and be intimidated by them. I really tried to flip the thought around and think, “Hey they want to buy my business, so I’m in the driver’s seat.”

One minute into the pitch, the producer actually said, “CUT” and stopped the filming. I thought, “Seriously? You can do that?” One of the cameras stopped working so I had to go back up the stairs and do the first couple minutes of the pitch all over again. The nice part was once I got started again it only took a few minutes to get the offer I was asking for from Bruce. As soon as I had been offered a deal, I became very relaxed, which was good since the full pitch actually took nearly 1 hour. In all honesty I didn’t think the pitch could go any better. I got an instant offer from Bruce and shortly afterwards I had competing offers from multiple Dragons. When I first walked in I really wanted Bruce to be my partner because my business was based online and I needed his expertise in the market. Towards the end of the pitch, Jim came in and offered to partner with Bruce. This was my dream come true as they both brought things to the table that I didn’t have, and like they say, two hands are better than one.

After I made the deal with Bruce and Jim we walked off the set and I met a representative from Jim’s team. I basically signed a piece of paper that said I was obligated to the deal for a 6-month time period while they did their due diligence. At this time I was pretty happy. I had just finished my pitch and had 2 deals; as far as I was concerned this was a home run. The next few months proved to be anything but that.

I had tons of paper work to fill out for both teams. This consisted of things like sales to date, overhead costs, a full business plan, and contact information for my accountants and lawyers. My business plan was really well done and over 200 pages long. 2 months later the plan was over 300 pages and detailed on a level that I never thought possible. Everything was being monitored and counted down to the penny, even the cost of electricity in my home office.

We finalized the deal nearly one full year after the episode was filmed. The process was grueling and I really didn’t know if my episode would air or if I was actually going to seal the deal. After months of hard work with lawyers and accountants, we came to an agreement that was nothing like the deal on the show. I actually got almost 3 times the money for the same valuation. In the meantime, the guys have been very hands-on with meetings every couple weeks and frequent phone calls. The business has grown a lot since our episode aired, but appearing on the show did very little to help our business. With the majority of our customers being in the UK and USA, our clientele doesn’t really watch Dragons’ Den. However, the experience was great and it’s been a lot of fun. I actually did a follow-up episode where I got a dragon tattoo with Bruce. That was 10 times easier than the first taping because I set up the location; the producers and crew just showed up and 8 hours later we had a 3-minute segment. All in all it was a great experience and the business is doing well. 

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