Prairie Merchant Corporation

Prairie Merchant Corporation

February 28, 2011 09:56 ET

Dragon With A Heart Leaves the Den

W. Brett Wilson Leaves Dragons' Den With Challenge to CBC to Evolve the Show; Continues his Support for 30 Den Deals and Charity Work for Canadians in Need.

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Feb. 28, 2011) - After three years on CBC's Dragons' Den, doing 60 plus deals in the Den and personally committing over $4.5 million in final deals with 30 Canadian entrepreneurs, W. Brett Wilson, the lead deal making Dragon, confirmed today that he will not return for the show's next season. With his departure, Wilson is challenging both CBC and the Dragons to take encouraging Canadian entrepreneurship to another level and to constructively criticize, guide and sometimes finance the pitchers venturing into the Den.

Wilson also hinted at starting his own show to celebrate Canadian generosity through philanthropy and indicated he will continue to step-up his own work to raise money for Canadians in need.

"The contract re-negotiations were complicated. The key issues were my availability and the use of show branding to promote Dragons' Den deals. We were very, very close to a resolution. But we fell short for several reasons, but mostly we just ran out of time, for which I'm obviously disappointed. I would have loved to have done at least one more season's worth of helping Canadian entrepreneurs' dreams come alive," said Wilson. "I remain very much committed to the concept of Dragons' Den, to the amazing Canadians that show up in the Den to be tested and challenged, and to the many deals I've done through the show. Every deal has been for an interesting product, but more importantly, all came from great entrepreneurs in the making, many of whom I continue to personally coach and actively promote." Selected highlights of Wilson's Dragons' Den deals and his ongoing work to support them, as well a high level summary of imminent public appearances are in the Backgrounder below.

"When I joined Dragons' Den, I told the producers I would continue – as I always have – to do deals with a social conscience and always with a tendency to invest in people over businesses, knowing that every business has speed bumps, and, that in the end, it's ones' key partners that are the primary determinants of the success or failure of an idea or a business," Wilson said.

"I'm proud of the deals I have done from the show – but even more proud of the journey these determined Canadians are on as entrepreneurs. I challenge CBC and the Dragons to ensure that the show's momentum in celebrating, encouraging and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship across Canada doesn't get lost in faux-business conversations with theatrical rudeness and irrelevant commentary and advice when the real opportunity is to encourage, participate and share in the entrepreneurs' journeys," Wilson confirmed.

"The future is bright for entrepreneurship in Canada. Dragons' Den fans tell me constantly that they are craving true follow-up shows – not superficial snippets of information. They want to share the true roller coaster of the business and deals done in the Den along with the updates on how people fared who got offers and turned them down – and of course those who were sent away," Wilson said.

Wilson is considering television programming focused on celebrating philanthropy in Canada. "I've been fortunate in my life to be able to give back, and in doing so I've met thousands of great Canadians who are giving their time, their money, and their hearts to great causes. I want to celebrate them and hopefully inspire others to give something back. I hope a national broadcaster will see merit in participating in such productions," he said.

In the short term, Wilson will finance, help produce and co-host a major fund-raising event for Canadian military families on March 2nd, 2011 in Vancouver and support other Dragons' Den related initiatives across Canada.
Details follow in the backgrounder below.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1) History on Dragons' Den

2) Dragon with a Heart

1) History on Dragons' Den:

- Wilson joined Dragons' Den in January 2008 by invitation, as a replacement Dragon, winning a tryout among a rumored 50 plus other potential Dragons. Initially advised the only "strike" against him was that he wasn't mean enough, he soon came to be seen as adding some "warmer blood" to the Dragon casting.

- Wilson appeared in 55 of the 75 episodes of the Gemini award winning Dragons' Den.

- In three seasons as a Dragon, Wilson completed just over 60 deals on air. After the required due diligence period required on any deal, he successfully papered and financed 30 of those deals, personally committing just over $4.5 million. 

- Taking a portfolio approach to investing in early stage businesses, Wilson accepted that while some of the Den investments will under-perform, many will vastly out-perform over time given the quality of partners and businesses he supported through the show.

- Wilson will continue to support his Dragons' Den deals with his merchant banking team at Prairie Merchant Corporation.

His larger Dragons' Den investments include:

3twenty Solutions Converting shipping containers into camps. www.3twenty.ca
   
Dr. Mist All natural body spray. www.drmist.ca
   
EcoTraction Ice and road salt substitute. www.ecotraction.com
   
FROGBOX A brilliantly simple reusable moving box. www.frogbox.com
   
Hillberg & Berk World-class fashion jewelry. www.hillbergandberk.com
   
Kelvin23 A classic home focused multi-tool. www.kelvintools.com
   
Modrobes Eco-friendly fashion clothing. www.modrobes.com
   
Moxie Trades Empowering women's workwear. www.moxietrades.com
   
QuickSnap Amazing shoelace "knot" replacement. www.quicksnap.ca
   
The 7 Virtues Perfume with vision and purpose. www.the7virtues.com
   
TrackItBack The only way to get it back! www.trackitback.com
   
UNO World's coolest motorcycle/unicycle. www.bpg-werks.com

Other investments range from ultra organic "soap nuts" to Elvis impersonator costumes and kids socks that snap together for washing.

www.wbrettwilson.ca - Wilson's personal website - will be re-launched shortly featuring updates on all of his investments via Dragons' Den.

2) Dragon with a Heart:

A) Operation: Western Front, March 2nd, Vancouver, BC

www.OperationWesternFront.ca

True to his ongoing commitment to philanthropy, Wilson is co-hosting, helping produce and financing a Vancouver based major fund-raising event for Canada's military families on March 2nd. Operation: Western Front will raise funds needed to fill gaps in government funding, and as deliver a thank you to those that have served and do serve. Seven of Wilson's Dragons' Den investments -- as well as one that is still in negotiation -- will be there to showcase their products.

B) Across Canada Appearances at The Bay with The 7 Virtues

www.The7Virtues.com

Wilson and entrepreneur Barb Stegmann, Wilson's partner in The 7 Virtues perfume line made from legal, sustainable flower crops grown in war-torn countries, will appear at The Bay Vancouver on March 2nd, Toronto on March 10th and Ottawa on March 11th as part of a national roll out of The 7 Virtues perfume lines (the first perfume – Afghanistan Orange Blossom - appeared on Dragons' Den in early Feb 2011).

C) Appearance at Enterprise Toronto / CBC Event, March 22, 2011

http://tinyurl.com/EnterpriseTorontoDD

Wilson will participate in a public Enterprise Toronto event on March 22nd in downtown Toronto with Dragon Den's panelist Jim Treliving to provide new entrepreneurs with advice on raising start up and growth capital from investors.

Contact Information