Last May, Spray-Net founder, Carmelo Marsala, made the trip to Toronto to introduce our exterior painting company and unique permanent paint solution to the panel of sharp shooting entrepreneurs and savvy venture capitalists on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. By now, you can say that Carmelo’s somewhat used to being in front of the cameras. He’s won the 2015 Air Miles for Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and he’s been featured as a business success story on CityTV’s Breakfast Television. Entering the Dragons’ Den, however, where both he and his exterior painting company would be grilled by the fire of the Dragons, was a whole other story.
Here’s what Carmelo had to say when we asked him about his Dragons’ Den experience:
Q: You look pretty comfortable when it comes to being interviewed in front of the cameras. Leading up to your pitch, would you say you were calm, cool and collected; or a bag of nerves?
A: Haha of course I was a bit nervous because there are a lot of people who watch the show and as a fan myself, I’ve seen entrepreneurs get grilled and it’s 5 against 1. I’m not one to rehearse because I’m best in spontaneous situations. The most important thing anyone can do is be confident in the knowledge of their business… and I definitely know our business inside and out.
Q: How did you prepare for your pitch? Do you have any quirky pre-interview rituals?
A: My usual pacing. Everyone makes fun of me when I talk on the phone because I pace in circles. I should probably get a step meter to count how many steps I take when I’m on the phone. I guess the fact that I have to buy new shoes on an almost monthly basis says it all!
Its true! Carmelo right before his pitch:
Q: Was there a Dragon in particular that you wanted to work with? If so, why?
A: Jim Treliving. Spray-Net is a franchise model so it was clear in my mind that the king of franchising would naturally be the best fit for us.
Q: Tell us! Were the Dragons as cutthroat as everyone makes them out to be? Would you say you were intimidated in any way?
A: I personally don’t think they’re cutthroat. They have the right to challenge entrepreneurs if they’re going to invest in them. I would be offended too if I was sitting in their seat and someone came in unprepared by either overvaluing their business or being unable to answer important questions about their business. No one is going to just give you money because they like you and I understand that. For that reason, I was less intimidated.
Q: You had the opportunity to meet and speak to a handful of Canada’s most renowned and accomplished entrepreneurs. What did you take away from the experience?
A: When I first started in business, I felt, like a lot of entrepreneurs, that the struggles were unique to me. I now know what it means to work hard to hit your goals. I think this really allowed me to appreciate the Dragons’ accomplishments because, although everyone thinks having your own business is super glamorous, it’s A LOT of hard work. It was extremely inspiring to meet some of the best entrepreneurs in the nation and it was also reassuring that the dialogue wasn’t one-sided and that we were able to talk business on the same level!
Q: If you could chat over drinks with one Dragon, who would it be and why?
A: I really liked the new Dragon, Manjit Minhas! She was raw, transparent and sharp. Plus, who better to share drinks with than her? She manufactures beer and liquor for companies across North America!
Q: What advice would you give to a fellow entrepreneur preparing to enter the Dragons’ Den?
Q: Know your business inside and out, don’t overvalue your business and don’t be scripted and rehearsed because it’ll show. Just go in, have fun and the rest will just happen!
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