Sometimes it’s not the destination that’s most important, but rather the journey. At least that’s how Chilliwack’s Brent Poulton feels about his Funky Tails pitch to top Canadian business gurus on CBC’s Dragon’s Den.
Poulton said he came up with the idea of selling ugly canine Christmas sweaters with matching sizes for their human counterparts a few years ago while watching an episode of Dragon’s Den.
“We saw (the show) and thought ugly Christmas sweaters would be perfect to sell in our (pet) store. But we couldn’t find any anywhere, so we came up with the idea to make our own,” explained Poulton.
Poulton’s been selling his Funky Tails sweaters for about four years, focusing on online sales through his website and wholesale. He now has nearly 100 retailers carrying his ugly canine Christmas sweaters. But friends kept encouraging him to go bigger. So when auditions for the Den rolled into the Valley this spring, Poulton stepped in and pitched his idea.
Three days after auditioning, Poulton learned he was selected to go in front of the Dragons themselves. “Not everyone ends up on TV,” said Poulton. “You need to be good for TV to end up on TV,” he continued, explaining how less than a quarter of in-person pitches actually end up airing.
After receiving his invitation into the Den, Poulton booked a flight to Toronto where the show is located. Filmed in April, Poulton didn’t learn until mid-November that his pitch would be aired in Thursday night’s holiday-themed episode.
Of the six Dragons—Arlene Dickinson, Joe Mimran, Manjit Minhas, Michele Romanow, Jim Treliving, and Michael Wekerle—it was Dickinson who showed immediate interest in Poulton’s Funky Tails sweaters, offering him the $15,000 he was asking for within minutes.
“I have never done a dog investment. This one I’m going to do! I’m going to give you exactly what you asked for,” exclaimed Dickinson, recalling a previous ugly Christmas sweater idea that netted co-Dragon Treliving a 3200% return on his initial investment.
“I love it, I don’t need to talk about it,” Dickenson added. “Nothing says love for your pet like dressing like your pet.”
Overall, the experience was a good one for Poulton. “I think it was worth it. I would’ve been just as satisfied even if I didn’t end up on TV.
“Not everyone gets to do something like this,” he said. “Even just the feedback I got from these highly successful (entrepreneurs) made the experience totally worthwhile.”
And although Poulton’s original pitch was for ugly Christmas sweaters, Funky Tails is diversifying its pet-wear, carrying sweaters for every season. Visit www.funkytails.com to check them out.