In his quest to find out what happened to entrepreneurs who appeared before the Dragons on Dragons’ Den, Rick Spence of Profit Magazine (now ProfitGuide.com) caught up with, Dundas, Ont. entrepreneur Dave Hachey.
Rick wrote “Never confuse a Dragon. Even if it means bringing a horse to a TV studio.”
A lesson that Dave learned when he appeared in front of the Dragons with his dog and a vacuum-bathing system for horses. …. Even though Bailey, a black Labrador, had been specially “dirtied up” for the occasion, the Dragons were clearly thrown off. “I like you, I like the dog, I like the product,” said Robert Herjavec of the Toronto-based Herjavec Group. “But I don’t know if I like the business.”
Even outspoken Kevin O’Leary had trouble assessing the pitch by Hachey, who was requesting $150,000 for 20% of his business. “I never have a problem making a decision in between crap and good,” said O’Leary. “But I’m in pain thinking about this decision. And for that reason, I’ve got to say I’m out.”
In the end, all five Dragons rejected Hachey’s deal. And he’s a happier man because of it.
An inveterate tinkerer, Hachey got into the animal-grooming business when he owned a hairy Newfoundland dog who always smelled—even after a rigorous shampoo. “No matter what you did, you couldn’t get the smell off of her,” says Hachey.
The problem is that animal hair is naturally resistant to water—so shampoos rarely reach the dirty skin. Hachey adapted a carpet-cleaning wand with a comb that penetrates to the roots, where it sprays pressurized water from multiple nozzles. “It cleans from the skin up instead of the top down,” he says. He added a vacuum head to suck up loose hair and water, creating a fast-drying bathing solution.
After patenting his invention, Hachey quit his job as a purchasing manager in 2005, took out a mortgage and formed Anivac Corp. (now Ogena Solutions) to sell his cleaning systems. His first target: dog groomers. According to Hachey, just 7% of dog owners visit commercial groomers. Surely a faster, easier system would multiply their market share. “I invested $40,000 in the dog market, but I didn’t do enough research,” he says. “The groomers were hostile. They said it was the dumbest thing they’d ever seen.”
With time and money running out, Hachey got a new idea. If dog groomers wouldn’t buy his idea, he’d prove its worth by opening his own shop. In January 2007, he opened the Animazing 15-Minute Pet Bath Centre at a strip mall in Burlington, Ont. It bathes up to four pets at a time, for between $30 and $60. The store broke even in its second month.
But Hachey never wanted to get into the service business, so he began targeting the show-horse market. Bathing horses is a big deal: conventional scrub-downs require a separate stall in the barn, consume 100 gallons of water and rarely reach ground-in dirt that can cause career-ending skin infections. Marketing through horse shows and trade shows, Anivac reached sales of $500,000 in 2007.
Still, Hachey wanted more. He hoped to sidestep those dog groomers by producing a consumer product for washing dogs at home. He applied to Dragons’ Den to raise $150,000 to develop the new product, but his appearance didn’t go well. First, Hachey got stage fright and couldn’t speak. When the producers let him start over, he had trouble explaining why he’d brought a dog to demonstrate a machine for cleaning horses—and the Dragons never got a clear idea of his market plan. “I really screwed up,” he says.
Brooding on his failure to entice the Dragons, Hachey e-mailed the president of the U.S. company that manufactures his machines and asked for help. (He was too nervous to phone.) The supplier agreed to meet the following week. Admiring Hachey’s work ethic, the supplier wrote Hachey a cheque for close to $80,000 to get things moving.
Hachey asked how he could repay such generosity. “You’re going to keep buying machines from me, aren’t you?” the supplier asked. Says Hachey: “We’ll be buying machines from him forever.”
After Hachey’s pitch aired on Dragons’ Den last fall, Hachey says his phone rang for two weeks with folks offering to invest. But he no longer needed them. Last fall, he signed a worldwide distribution agreement with Australia-based Equissage Pty. Ltd., which produces physiotherapy products for horses. With more time and cash to focus on Anivac’s consumer business, Hachey expects to debut his $150 home dog-washing system next spring. “That’s where the market is,” he says. “It’s going to be massive.”
Hachey laments his failure to get his message across to the Dragons—but he doesn’t regret it. The experience led him to make the call that got him the money he needed without giving up equity. And he wonders how many other entrepreneurs have willing partners like his who are just one phone call away.
Source: Profit Magazine http://www.profitguide.com/uncategorized/dragons-den-the-magic-touch-29445