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Show gets GoTire going

A few minutes of prime-time television exposure has really set the wheels in motion for GoTire Mobile Tire Service.

The Red Deer-based business was one of the investment opportunities featured Sunday evening on Dragons’ Den, a CBC program in which entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a panel of business moguls. Founders Craig Howes and Heather Murphy received a positive response from the dragons, followed by an even more enthusiastic reaction from prospective franchisees.

From the time the show aired until 1 p.m. on Monday, 147 franchise requests had come in, said Howes. The business’s website had about 3,200 visitors on Sunday night.

“Since them, it’s doing nothing but been doubling and tripling.”

He and Murphy have been told that it takes about two weeks before the full impact of an appearance on Dragons’ Den can be measured.

And with the episode scheduled to be rebroadcast this Wednesday at 8 p.m. — the program’s regular time slot until recently — they’re looking forward to another spike in interest.

“It might be equal to or even potentially more than the Sunday market,” said Howes.

GoTire is a mobile tire-changing and replacement service that also sells tires, performs auto detailing, and repairs and replaces windshields.

Howes and Murphy pitched the concept to celebrity investors Bruce Croxon, Kevin O’Leary, David Chilton, Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving on the Dragons’ Den set in Toronto on April 25.

They offered to sell 20 per cent of their business, which is designed to be sold as franchises, for $175,000.

Croxon and O’Leary agreed to pay $218,750 for 25 per cent.

Howes explained that the price reflected the value of Croxon’s and O’Leary’s personal brands, as well as the cash they would provide.

When O’Leary shook hands with Howes and Murphy, he commented that they had delivered “one of the best presentations we’ve ever seen.”

“That was a very touching parting comment,” said Howes. “

When he gives a compliment like that, it’s gold.”

However, the parties have since been unable to finalize the deal, Howes confirmed on Monday.

After diligent negotiations, he and Murphy decided they weren’t willing to make the compromises necessary to put a comprehensive agreement on paper.

“I can tell you that it was a very interesting negotiation process.

“Dealing with venture capital, you want to walk into it eyes wide open.”

That hasn’t stopped the common-law couple, and some of their friends who invested in the business, from pushing forward. They’d sold eight franchises prior to the Dragon’s Den episode.

Howes said they’ve kept the lines of communications with Croxon and O’Leary — and other prospective investors — open. You can never have too much capital when trying to launch and build a new franchise, he explained.

Regardless, they have no regrets about their Dragons’ Den venture.

“It’s unquestionably one of the best investments we’ve ever made,” said Howes.

The more than 80 minutes he and Murphy spent on their presentation to the dragons were edited down to fewer than 10. But Howes said they were satisfied with the result — which they watched with about 250 people at a broadcast party at Westerner Park on Sunday.

CBC has already raised the possibility of providing an update on GoTire in a future edition of Dragons’ Den.

“We are 100 per cent open and looking forward to that,” said Howes.

He’s optimistic they’ll sell all of the 147 GoTire franchises earmarked for Canada, and noted that inquiries are coming from a number of other countries.



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