Nicolette Richer can’t say much about how her trip to the Dragons’ Den to pitch her expanding Whistler restaurant, The Green Moustache, went. But she can share the harrowing story of the journey to CBC Toronto, where the TV show was filmed last April.
With her friends, kids, husband and mother-in-law in tow, the entire crew began to feel ill on the plane. “My two little ones on either side of me vomited on everyone and everything and all over me,” Richer said. “(After) we had to race around Toronto to find food and supplies (to make dishes to serve the dragons) and race down the street carrying everything. I was the only one to not get hit. I had to nurse everyone back to health.”
Still, she said, the ordeal was worth it. Whistler has seen an inordinate number of local businesses pitch to investors on the Canadian reality TV show. Richer said she tapped into the expertise of local Dragons’ Den alumni, like Love Child Organics and Nonna Pia’s. The appeal, she said, is just how much publicity the show can give a company — regardless of whether they score a deal.
“The experience of going to pitch for the dragons makes you a stronger entrepreneur,” Richer said. “You have to pull up your boot straps and get in there with all the information you need to know. We have heard from people who have had pitches on Dragons’ Den… They said that after it aired, people can get up to dozens if not hundreds or thousands of franchise requests.”
The timing for The Green Moustache was right; the company started out with one “organic juice and live food bar” in the Village three years ago, but since then they’ve opened up five other locations with their sights set on franchising throughout the rest of B.C.
“Since we opened we’ve had requests from all over Canada and the U.S. (to franchise),” Richer said. “We weren’t ready to enter those markets; right now we’re focusing on B.C. Once that model is strong and set and fool-proof, we’ll expand across the country. It’s all part of a bigger vision. We had this huge vision of increasing the number of organic farms and lowering the number of pesticides that enter our community members’ bodies. It’s more about that than how many restaurants we have.”
One other advantage they had on their side when heading into the Dragons’ Den studio: a former dragon, Bruce Croxon, is a regular customer who offered a little insight. “I’m a researcher through and through,” Richer said. “I called (Croxon) up and said, ‘Can you give me any pointers?’ Whistler is an entrepreneur magnet. We probably wouldn’t have started without the support of other entrepreneurs.”
While Richer isn’t allowed to speak about the outcome of their pitch, locals will soon be able to see the results when the episode airs next Wednesday (Feb. 15).
The Green Moustache is hosting a viewing party at the Whistler Brewing Company with tickets on sale now for customers who would like to attend. Proceeds from the party will go towards the non-profit society the business started in September. It offers workshops and in-school programs teaching healthy eating.
Richer’s advice to future entrepreneurs pitching to the show: “We went in there to be ourselves and be as honest as possible and not sell a concept that would get a deal, but sell who we are. I think it’s important entrepreneurs
Catch The Green Moustache on Dragons’ Den on CBC (TV and online) on Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. For tickets to the viewing party visit greenmoustache.com.