#vizyourkids ~ keep kids safe

Lil Worker Safety Gear + Dragons' Den

Surviving the Den

A picture tells a thousand words (and they're all lies)

There you go. Evidence. I survived the Dragons' Den. What I'm not telling you is that they take your picture in front of this massive DD poster before you face the Dragons.

When you see someone on TV or anywhere else in the media you get to see them at their shiny best. Practiced. Polished. Primed. Perfect. Just like that picture of me. I want to let you know what really happens before all that.

Part of being an entrepreneur is dancing with fear so I'm going add notes below when I tackled something I had never done during this adventure. I'll highlight anything new like this: [NDT] for "never done this." 

Ok, time to rewind.


I decide to blast my trip to Toronto off in three days [NDT]. It's the kind of thing you do when you've got 3 young kids at home and a 2nd company to run. And if you're an entrepreneurial, "I love challenges" type of person, it's just how you do things.

Somewhere over Calgary I realize that I'm not actually going to Calgary and that the time difference may pose a challenge. There's nothing I can do about it so I shelve the concern and go back to running through my 60-second elevator pitch for the 2,392nd time. People around me on the airplane think I'm losing my marbles. They're probably right.

I land in a sea of people. Toronto. 3 hours earlier than home on Vancouver Island. The best way to get from the airport to my hotel is on the train, so I hop on a train head straight into downtown [NDT]. 

The train is empty which is nice because it gives me time to relax and watch the scenery. Haha, riiiiight. I don't watch the scenery. I call Alicia Woods to discuss tips and strategy in the Den [NDT]. Alicia pitched her wicked company Covergalls on Season 9 of DD and walked away with a deal and multiple offers. I get pretty jacked talking with Alicia and she really focuses me on what my main priorities are heading into the Den:

  1. Make it to air - treat the show like a $1M commercial for your business and, for God's sake, don't be boring. If you are headed for a win, win BIG. If you're headed for a fail (and you'll know if your pitch goes this way), fail BIG. Many boring pitchers that get deals don't make it to air. Instead, pitchers that fail to get a deal but are entertaining make the air. 180 pitches are filmed and only 90 make the air each season. You want to make it to air.
  2. Make a deal - you spend all this time writing, researching, calculating, prepping, pitching, revising. The Dragons in the chairs want to see you succeed. Don't get greedy. Your business isn't worth what you think it is. Stuff the pride. Make a deal.

Hotel Time

The Fairmont Royal York is a ridiculously nice hotel. I have no idea how I end up staying here. That's a lie. It's my first time in TO and, well, when in Rome.... I almost put out a post to the Lil Worker Safety Gear Facebook page asking for a free couch to sleep on for a couple of nights, I'm glad I coughed up the extra cash to stay in such an awesome place.

You'd think a guy would be able to relax in such sweet digs. I can't. I've run through my pitch 3,038 times and counting. I'm a nervy mess. Not to mention that my planned bedtime at 9pm is actually 6pm PST. Ugh.

I'm going to skip the part of the story where I get lost looking for a place to eat and wind spending $30 on a hamburger [NDT]. Man, that's embarrassing.

Back to 9pm (EST).

You know that feeling when you just can't get to sleep? You start counting the hours until you have to wake up? And counting keeps you up longer? Here's an incomplete list of techniques I try to get to sleep:

  • pulling my hair
  • meditation
  • hitting my head on a wall
  • showering
  • reading
  • walking outside
  • yelling into a pillow. 

Nothing works.

Fresh as a daisy

I watch the clock tick from 5:29am to 5:30am and the alarm goes. Sleepless night number two. There's nothing that gets me more pumped than taking on a major life challenge after staying up for 48 hours straight [NDT]. I'm as fresh as a daisy.

Time to head to the CBC studio.

I arrive about an hour early. You never know what hurdles life is going to throw in your way. I get to meet some of the other pitchers in the hall waiting for security. An odd thing starts happening. We all just start pitching each other. I mean, why not, right? The Wike guys have a freaking amazing bike that turns into a stroller. The FUUD guys have a super cool food delivery company. Kenn invented sweet ODii grabbing tools. These guys rock.

The Resistance

Let me stop you right here. This is important. I'm having a great time talking with my fellow soon-to-be pitchers, learning about their inventions and businesses. All of a sudden, this crappy voice pops into my head.

"You don't belong here," it says. 

"Look, these guys made a bike that turns into a frigging stroller. All you have is hi viz safety gear in super tiny sizes. Save yourself the embarrassment and go home now."

"You don't have the numbers to get a deal. The Dragons are going to laugh you off the stage."

The voice is real. It's the Resistance. I can turn tail and run but I bet that almost every other pitcher in the hall has similar thoughts running through his or her head.

If you really pursue something you believe in, something you love, you're going to hear the Resistance too. Fight it. Just so you know, we're all fighting it in one form or another all the time. Don't give in. Persevere. 


Before the CBC security lets us into the studio, all the pitchers are required to sign a 69-page non-disclosure agreement. I'm exaggerating a *bit*. I start reading this titan and decide to just flip to the back and sign it. What, am I going to just leave, jump on the plane and head home...? No freaking way.

James: 1
Resistance: 0

The Den

Now, here's every detail of everything that actually happened behind the scenes in the Den....




Oops, sorry.

I know you want to know how my pitch went to the Dragons went. Believe me, I want to tell you bad. It went nothing like I planned. Things got crazy. Kids. Cameras. Dragons. [NDT]. I've said too much. Remember that 69 page NDA? My lips are zipped. You'll have to tune in for Season 12 of the Dragons' Den to find out.

Fingers crossed. Toes crossed.

UPDATE - the episode aired and it was CRAZY GOOD. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. If you have seen it, WATCH IT AGAIN!!!  http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/pitches/lil-worker-safety-gear


Now, how many times did I write [NDT] up there? A lot. Was I freaked out about doing some of them? Yup. Did that stop me? Nope. 

Don't let the NDTs stop you.

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Kids safety gear = "BEST CONCEPT" finalist!!!

Lil Worker Safety Gear is a #SBBCAward finalist!

Thank you all for supporting our run for the BEST CONCEPT Small Business BC award! My line of kids' safety shirts, vests, fleece and jackets made it right to the end of the competition, narrowly missing the top spot and taking home the trophy!

I had a great time, made a whole bunch of connections and got some invaluable experience going through the award process. Special THANKS to my friend Jesse from ArctiCup and Cathy "The Connected Woman" for their advice and company during the awards ceremony!

I'll admit that the best part of all this was continuing to spread the message to #vizyourkids to parents and guardians everywhere! Let's continue to make kids VISIBLE and SAFE wherever they go!

PS - I'll be taking Lil Worker Safety Gear into the Dragon's Den to look for some major league help in April! Stay tuned for updates!!!

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Zacady does TREE WORK!

Zacady is a young boy who LOVES to work and he can do ANYTHING. He wakes up when his clock turns yellow. That’s when he knows it’s time to RISE AND SHINE. He eats a BIG breakfast so he has LOTS of energy to get the job done!


After breakfast Zacady throws on his work gear and yells “BYE BYE MOMANDDAD, SEE YOU LATER!” as he heads out the door.


Today is a really really really exciting day because today Zacady is working as a tree worker! Tree workers use gigantic boom trucks and climb super high to cut down dangerous trees! Chainsaws and ropes are tools tree workers use on their jobs. Massive wood chippers mulch up the tree branches and haul them away! WOW, this is going to be a COOL day!

The boom trucks are GIGANTIC trucks, and there is lots to do so Zacady makes sure he gets to work early. He flies the boom up in the air to make sure it’s safe to use for the day. He sharpens the chainsaws so they cut wood fast and straight. He even takes out the garbage!

When he pulls the boom truck up to the dangerous tree, Zacady puts out his “MEN AT WORK” signs and cones off the work area so everyone knows to STAY BACK. Work zones are DANGEROUS and if you’re not working on a site you need to give the crew LOTS of room to get their work done safely!

The tree crew has a tailboard meeting about how they’re going to take down the dangerous tree safely and Zacady writes it all down to make sure everyone knows their job. Today Zacady’s job is to go up in the boom and cut the tree down! SO AWESOME!!!

The boom goes up really really really high, and Zacady goes right to the top of the tree. He slices the branches off on the way up and then cuts the trunk wood into chunks on the way down. He always asks his ground crew “ALL CLEAR?” on the radio and doesn’t drop anything until his crew answers “ALL CLEAR!” to make sure they are all safe!

The tree has been cut and the boom is cradled again. “BLOMP BLOMP” Zacady honks the horn TWO TIMES and waits for the crew “ALL CLEAR!” before moving it ahead to finish chipping up the tree branches. The crew all give Zacady THUMBS UP so he knows it’s safe to move the truck.

After all the branches are all fed into the MASSIVE wood chipper, Zacady grabs his really really really HUGE chainsaw. He uses his saw to cut down the tree stump. “MWWWHAAA MWWWHAAA MWWWHAAA” WHUMP! That tree stump is DOWN! It’s SO FUN and he’s glad he got to work early and sharpened the saw because the saw is SUPER SHARP!!!


Now that the tree is down and everyone is safe it’s time to go dump the wood chips and park for the day. Zacady unhitches the chipper, honks twice “BLOMP BLOMP!” and backs up to the wood chip pile “BEEP-BEEP! BEEP-BEEP! BEEP-BEEP!” The chip box on the truck lifts really really really high and all the chips fall out. Nice work Zacady!

After dumping the wood chips, Zacady hooks the chipper back up to the boom truck and drives it back to the park spot. Once they’re parked the crew goes over all the equipment to make sure it’s ready to work again tomorrow. The fuel levels are checked. The saw gas and bar oil for the chainsaws are filled up. The chipper is greased up. Everything is ready. HOLY SMOKES that was FUN!

Back at home Zacady helps Momanddad get dinner ready. He worked hard today and he is HUNGRY! At dinner he tells Momanddad all about his day as a tree worker. Momanddad are IMPRESSED!

Zacady goes to bed early, he is TIRED from another BIG WORK DAY. He needs to get really really really good sleep so he’s ready for work tomorrow. Good night Zacady, see you in the morning!

REAL safety gear for kids. Because growing up is tough work.

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Lil Worker Safety Gear has been nominated for Small Business BC's "BEST CONCEPT" award! The award is for, ahem ahem [insert mature voice], the best new company in BC which has "a phenomenal and viable idea that's going to make an impact." I think inspiring people across North America to #vizyourkids and protect their children's priceless lives is a pretty phenomenal idea that's sure going to make an impact! If you agree PLEASE CLICK THE LINK AND VOTE FOR US!

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I Held Love

your tiny fingers danced in the dark
I held your foot in the palm of my hand
body curled up in mine
I stayed still
I held my breath
and listened

I look back now
and see Us there
warm bottle
rocking chair
slowly swaying into sleep

I think of the all times we fought
the things we said
the Beings we’re not
biting, scratching, clawing mad
I don’t have to be that Dad
the future not yet set in stone
a lesson learned before we’ve grown

your tiny fingers dancing in the dark
I hold your foot in the palm of my hand
body curled up in mine
I stay still
I hold my breath
and I promise not to forget
to bite my breath
and love

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