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News@Ivey · Dawn Milne

Ivey entrepreneur scores deal on Dragons’ Den

Nov 27, 2019

Elliot Kimelman

You could say Elliot Kimelman made a splash while pitching his product, C-Spray, a chlorine-eliminating multi-use spray for swimmers, on CBC Television’s Dragons’ Den. He brought swimwear models and even conducted a chemistry test to demonstrate the product. His efforts paid off.

The HBA ’20 candidate received several offers from the Dragons and accepted one from Michele Romanow. His ask was $100,000 in return for 10-per-cent equity. She offered the full amount in exchange for 40-per-cent equity and a royalty of 10 per cent of the retail price on all future C-Spray sales.

The two are still discussing the details of the financing. Kimelman first auditioned for the show in March and then pitched to the Dragons, and made the deal, at the CBC studio in Toronto on May 11. His recorded segment aired on the November 14 episode of the show. While Kimelman could not discuss the outcome or details of the experience prior to the pitch airing on CBC, he now says it solidified his interest in entrepreneurship.

“After being on Dragons’ Den, I decided to pursue entrepreneurship post-grad. The experience helped a lot because it showed me this is something I can excel at and I really enjoy spending time on,” he said.

Since his pitch aired, Kimelman said C-Spray sales have spiked and he has received an outpouring of support from swimmers, the entrepreneurship community, and his HBA classmates.

“The attention has been really incredible,” he said. “I am gracious and excited that so many people around me believe in the product and in me as an entrepreneur.”

The moment of truth

Kimelman said there were some tense moments during the pitch, especially when the Dragons questioned how he calculated the company’s value. It made for an entertaining episode and a great learning experience.

“It was a tension-filled moment because, at that point, I wasn’t sure if they would be making a deal because they didn’t like the valuation. What brought me to the finish line was, even though the valuation wasn’t as accurate as they would have liked, they were buying into the product and me,” he said. “The pressure was immense, but it was an incredible learning moment and training for future pitches and meetings with executives and investors.”

Thanks to Ivey’s HBA program, Kimelman is accustomed to performing under pressure. From 48-hour reports to case competitions, he has already had to think on his feet.

“Although pitching on Dragons’ Den was challenging in the moment, I know C-Spray so well that I was comfortable with the questions. Whereas, at Ivey, you’re challenged with problems that you weren’t expecting,” he said. “My year in HBA1 definitely helped me to prepare for the pitch, especially in being able to preserve your face in moments of crisis.”

A partnership in the making

Since his Dragons’ Den pitch, Kimelman has been building relationships with distributors and retailers and will be working with Romanow on plans to increase C-Spray sales. Even before the pitch, he said he’d hoped she would invest because her company, Clearbanc, has experience with product-based startups.

“Michele and her company have a lot of experience in branding and marketing new products. Even prior I had a feeling that, regardless of who made an offer, Michele would be one of the top choices for me,” he said.

And while Kimelman is now focused on finishing the HBA program and growing C-Spray, he’s already looking ahead to his next business idea. He hopes to launch a second startup after graduation.

“Having this experience on Dragons’ Den sets me up for a lot of exciting things. I want to pursue entrepreneurship now while I’m young (he’s 20) because it’s a great time to take risks,” he said. “I can't wait to use what I learned in school to help propel me forward as I continue to grow through my entrepreneurial pursuits.”