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GoTire makes pitch to Dragon's Den


It’s tough to predict when opportunity will knock.

Craig Howes and Heather Murphy are counting on Jan. 13.

That’s when the Red Deer couple’s appearance on Dragons’ Den — a popular CBC program in which entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of celebrity investors — is scheduled to hit the airwaves. They’re optimistic the television exposure will generate national interest in their GoTire Mobile Tire Service.

The business, which Howes and Murphy started in 2011, is a mobile tire-changing and replacement service. GoTire also sells tires, performs auto detailing, and repairs and replaces windshields.

The concept has proven popular with many vehicle owners, and eight GoTire franchises have been sold to date.

Howes and Murphy decided that Dragons’ Den would be a great way to market their business, but also saw the value of enticing the show’s business moguls — Arlene Dickinson, Kevin O’Leary, Bruce Croxon, Jim Treliving and David Chilton — to invest.

“An opportunity to bring on an investor, any one of the dragons and/or many of them, it could catalyze the business,” said Howes, explaining that the dragons’ deep pockets could prove invaluable.

“As you’re growing, the one thing you can never do is underestimate the cash that you’ll require for growth.”

Earning a spot on Dragons’ Den was no simple matter, with most applicants eliminated during the screening process. Howes and Murphy submitted a professional audition tape and then went all out when invited to meet the dragons on April 25.

“Heather had actually done full reports on each one of the dragons,” said Howes. “We planned for six months; we had an advisory council.”

They spent $120,000 on a demo van, which they drove to Toronto and brought with them onto the set.

“One dragon, without saying who, actually ran out of his chair and jumped in and said he was quitting his day job,” laughed Howes. “He just wanted to have his own van.”

Howes couldn’t elaborate further prior to the broadcast, but said he and Murphy were pleased with the experience.

“An average pitch is five to 20 minutes, and we were on there for an hour and 25 minutes pitching.”

That pitch will be part of the Jan. 13 episode of Dragons’ Den, with the show to appear on CBC at 8 p.m. Howes and Murphy plan to share the experience with friends, business associates and others.

“We’re throwing a bit of a shaker over at the Westerner,” said Howes, adding that the party is expected to start at 5 p.m.

Thereafter, he and Murphy hope the phone will start ringing. They’ve developed custom software to receive and process franchise requests, and have set up a van assembly line and a training system that should allow 100 to 140 franchises to be operational within six to 12 months.

“We’ve spent nearly a million dollars,” said Howes, adding that 20 to 25 per cent of this total was dedicated to the Dragons’ Den bid and follow-up.

“When we made the decision to do this, it was very much an all-or-nothing decision.”

Anyone interested in attending the Jan. 13 broadcast party can call organizer Jenny of Lucky Day Weddings Inc. at 403-318-0826.

hrichards@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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