Last year’s Dragons' Den Meaford winner Paul Bishop of Ride On Bikes has some advice for you as he shares his story and experiences participating in Dragons’ Den Meaford.
Bishop’s experience started by taking notice of a Call for Contestants poster in local stores. He was familiar with CBC’s version and thought it would be “a great way to win some money and receive some advertising,” he says, “We always had a dream of having a bike store”.
With some experience working at other bike locations and having started a business at home, mostly for the local cottagers, he decided to apply. Bishop first entered Dragons’ Den in 2011, (when a business plan was not required). He did not leave the 2011 competition as a winner but he did receive lots of feedback from the judges. Looking back Bishop explains that his business ideas were too scattered and needed to be concentrated on one or two major initiatives. He recalls one of the Dragons saying, “Meaford needs bike rentals”.
After spending two years networking with groups like ABBBE.com and Grey County Tourism he returned to Dragons’ Den in 2013, with a focused vision, and a business plan (as it became a requirement of contestants).
Reflecting on the business plan Bishop said, “It was a lot of work to do properly, but it helped us think about our market and who we would target. It definitely helped with the pitch to the Dragons because I had done my homework and was able to answer any of the questions they presented”.
Doing his homework certainly paid off as he walked away as the 2013 Winner with $15,000 worth of prizes. A year later Bishop says, “I am glad I participated in Dragons’ Den. It certainly helped to focus our vision and the prizes have helped us succeed as well. It is worth taking advantage of them. Participating in an event like Dragons’ Den increases your confidence as a business owner because you know you have the support of the community behind you – especially since we won the crowd favourite.”
With the 2014 Summer Season well underway the success of Ride On Bikes has continued. Customers travel from all over the area to have their bikes serviced, purchase some gear, and take a guided tour.
Bishop says they have hired two local youth for the summer to help keep up with the demand. When discussing the success of the businesses, Bishop says, “The ultimate satisfaction is working for yourself, doing what you love. There are not many job opportunities in our area, so make your own.”
What is his advice for anyone thinking of entering?
Start working on your business plan now.
The seminars and workshops are helpful to attend especially if you haven’t created a business plan before.
Focus on the main aspect of your business.
Don’t be afraid to present. If you believe in your idea, are passionate about it, and have done your homework, that will all come across on stage.
It is worth the risk.
A workshop will be held at Meaford Hall on September 3rd from 7 to 9pm for all interested applicants or those who are simply interested in creating a business plan. For more information about entering this year’s Dragons’ Den and to pick up an application package contact the Meaford Chamber of Commerce in person at 16 Trowbridge St. Meaford, over the phone 519.538.1640, via email email@example.com, or visit us online at meafordchamber.ca.