Small Businesses Trump Dragons’ Den Summit – Highlights from Studio 40

Dragons' Den Summit in Vancouver - 2012We’re excited to say that Small Businesses trumped Dragons’ Den on Friday to cap off Vancouver’s Social Media Week! Chris and I presented Spokal on a live stage in CBC’s Studio 40 to some amazing entrepreneurs, including Den favourites’ Bruce Croxon (Founder of Lavalife) and Jim Treliving (True Creator of Boston Pizza), and honorary Vancouver Dragon Danny Robinson (Founder of Perch and Strutta).

Spokal was in good company. Among the 3 finalists were Kassandra and her partner Adam with a company that’s reinventing how people choose universities, and Patrick Harris, who’s trying to shake up the public transit advertising space. The event started with lessons from Bruce – “The road less traveled isn’t easy” – and Jim – “If you’re not using social media for your business now, you might never catch up,” followed by pitches from the teams.

Spokal Wins Dragons’ Den Summit!

After some deliberation, the Dragon’s awarded Spokal as the winner of the Dragon Summit, and we were presented a golden ticket to skip the audition line and appear on the Season 8 – a fun event to look forward to! Socialized does a good recap of the Dragon Summit, as seen on Twitter, and Maura (Founder of Strutta) did an interview with Guest Dragon Danny on what it was like to be a Dragon for the day. But since we all love looking behind the scenes, we thought we’d share a little secret with you…

Behind The Scenes – Our Journey To Studio 40

Most of you don’t know that for Spokal, the Dragons’ Den Summit started with a sandwich at Nesters. Chris, our CEO, loves their turkey cranberry sandwiches (they’re cheap, fresh and delicious). He was flipping through the newspaper while waiting in line, and read about the event in the Social Media section. Applications were due the next day, and being a veteran to 24 hour deadlines, we thought, why not?

Studio 40 - Dragons' Den Summit

Yes, it’s ironic that we found out about the event reading a newspaper –it was Social Media Week afterall – but hey, it makes for a good story…

It was our 3rd earling morning start to film in the last 2 weeks (we put a video together for the 500Startups accelerator and the National Angel Summit), and we were laughing as we set up the camera again – nothing says glam like morning sleep dust and a coffee buzz to shake off the previous nights’ 3am work party.

After some giggles about my over-exaggerating arm movements (apparently I speak with my hands) we put together something that resembled our business, did a quick edit, jumped on members from local Vancouver accelerator Launch Academy to vote for us, and then went back to building our business.

Four days before the event we got an email from CBCs Dragons Den producer Molly saying that we were in! The next day we had a 1 hour phone call to go over our pitch, and on Friday found ourselves wandering the halls of CBC trying to find Studio 40.

A Typical Friday…

After starting off in the wrong dressing room (we were politely informed we had to move because we were in “Micheal Buble’s room,” which we later found out was code for “Bruce, Jim and Danny’s room”) we strolled the halls counting the clock and trying not to get too excited about sharing Spokal with some of Canada’s leading minds.

Dragons Saw Potential In Spokal

The Spokal Team Looking Very Serious - Dragons' Den SummitWe loved the feedback from the Dragons. Bruce saw the opportunity (although we politely disagreed on our valuation) and Jim was really excited for us – he spoke with us after and told us to: “Keep doing what you’re doing guys. This is great, you’re going somewhere.” I also had a good chat with Danny, who encouraged us to refine our message and really explain,  in plain English, what Spokal does.  The feedback is valuable, and we look forward to putting it into action!

Check out more photos from the Dragons’ Den Summit on Facebook.

p.s. Gary Vaynerchuck Also Met Spokal!

In addition to meeting Gary Vaynerchuck the day before at Reach 2012 and picking his brain for 5 minutes about Spokal, it was a fantastic week as we tapped some of the top minds on how we can grow Spokal.

Now, with the next round of our beta rolling out soon, it’s back to the office for long hours and energizing conversations…

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  • Tera Kristen

    You got to meet Vaynerchuk! Jealous.

    I’m so impressed with what you guys have accomplished in the mere couple of weeks that I’ve known you. Good luck on season 8!

    • Alexandra Skey


      Great to hear from you – thank you for your support!

      I agree, the last 8 weeks have been nuts, we can only imagine what’s in store for the next 8, especially considering we’re releasing Spokal to the next group of businesses in 9 days, exciting times.

      Stay in touch, and keep us posted on how you’re doing!

    • Alexandra Skey

      I know!

      It was incredible. He gave us some great feedback on it, and we’re putting it to good use.

      Stay hungry,

  • June Maffin

    Well done Spokal! You’re getting closer and closer with each presentation to your dream. 🙂

    • Alexandra Skey

      I know June, it’s so exciting. We have a long way to go, and it’s great to see the support at such an early stage in our journey. Thanks for reaching out, it means a lot to us.

    • Alexandra Skey

      Thanks June!

      We hope so too!