Penticton in the Dragons' Den

Ryan Lancaster, vice-president of Enactus at Okanagan College chats about the group
Ryan Lancaster, vice-president of Enactus at Okanagan College chats about the group's programs, including their version of Dragons Den for young entrepreneurs with Erin Hanson, general manager of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.
— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

Built a better mousetrap? Or maybe you have built a device that will revolutionize the solar power industry?

If so, you will have a chance to pitch your business idea next week when the producers of CBC’s Dragons' Den come to town to audition prospective guests for next season.

On Feb. 9, Dragons’ Den producers will be coming to Okanagan College’s Penticton campus for a day of auditions.

One group that is going to be especially interested is the students enrolled in the college’s business program, especially the young entrepreneurs participating in the Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise) volunteer group.

“We are volunteering at the Dragons’ Den, as we have done in past years. Traditionally, it has been held in Kelowna, but this year we get the opportunity to do it here in Penticton,” said Ryan Lancaster, Enactus vice-president. “I am very excited to get a chance to see how the program is put together from behind the scenes. It’s unfortunate that the Dragons themselves won’t be here, but we are hoping to still discuss with the producers some of the intricacies of the program and maybe what they look for from their contestants.”

The auditions, which take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., are public. Budding entrepreneurs should be prepared to pitch their business in under five minutes. If they can convince Dragons’ Den producers they are ready for their 15 minutes of fame, they could be invited to brave the Dragons face-to face when the upcoming season is filmed in Toronto.

Sheilagh Seaton is an Okanagan School of Business professor and mentor to Enactus students in Penticton. She feels the auditions should be a valuable educational experience for business students.

“I think it is always exciting for young people to see people moving forward with their ideas,” she said. “And to see how a simple idea can have an opportunity to turn into a successful business, how they can bring that forward, what do they need to do to get their product into marketplace.”

Lancaster hopes to use the auditions as a networking opportunity, to help further Enactus’ Young Entrepreneur program, which brings a Dragons’ Den-style of competition to middle and high school students.

“It is our goal to help those student entrepreneurs start up real business in the community,” said Lancaster, who hopes to learn about the opportunities for students to get on one of the show’s all-student specials.

“We could use this year as a networking opportunity as well as a research gathering opportunity to get the information we need to see what constitutes a quality idea or what you need to as a student applying to be on the show, what do you need as an application,” said Lancaster.

“I think for the business program, it’s an opportunity for our students to really understand what it takes to launch a business and the pressures involved in asking for financing,” said Seaton. “Our students can learn quite a bit from watching that program in terms of what kind of information they would need to provide to potential investors, in order to receive the funding they would need to launch their own venture.”

Not only have people from the South Okanagan presented on the show before, Seaton said, but Jim Treliving, one of the Dragons, has close ties to Penticton, which was the site of his first Boston Pizza franchise.

“I think it is close to home here, I think it is really exciting coming to Penticton,” said Seaton. “I think our community has a lot of investment in it.”

More information about applying to be on Dragons' Den is available online at


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