Creative minds attempt to woo Dragons’ Den producers in Victoria

Dozens of entrepreneurs, artists and inventors attend Victoria audition

Ryan Lockhart explains his drill bit product to Dragons' Den executive producer Tracie Tighe

Ryan Lockhart hopes his drill bit invention, made with a drinking straw, a light switch faceplate screw and a candle, will one day become a household product.

The Victoria resident’s dream brought him to the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, where he joined dozens of entrepreneurs, inventors and artists in auditioning for producers from CBC’s Dragons’ Den TV show.

Lockhart hoped to stand out with his lockHARD drill bit, which fits in the top of most screws. He hopes his device, which won’t strip a screw, will become the standardized bit used by carpenters and electricians in Canada.

When he made the prototype, he channelled his inner MacGyver – a television character who could solve complex problems with everyday items.

“I took the screw, stuck it in the end of a McDonald’s straw, poured candle wax inside, let it fill up, froze it, cut it off and took it to a machine shop,” said Lockhart, who has sold almost 6,000 bits. “There will be no reason for an electrician to change bits again.”

His pitch in last Saturday’s audition was requesting a $10,000 investment to manufacture and market his product, in exchange for a 50-per-cent share in his company, Lockhart Innovations.

Those who auditioned will find out in a week and a half if they will be invited to pitch their ideas to the dragons in front of the cameras in Toronto, beginning April 12.

The competition is fierce.

Between 3,500 and 4,500 people audition for the show every year. Of those, 250 are invited for filming, though only half appear on the show.

A relatively small number of pitchers strike a deal with one or more of the wealthy investors, who include Kevin O’Leary, Jim Treliving, Arlene Dickinson, Robert Herjavec and Bruce Croxon.

Just when producers think they’ve seen every type of pitch imaginable, still more creative ideas come through their door.

“There’s every kind of spectacle,” executive producer Tracie Tigh said, from an opera singer to fire eaters to medieval jousting. “Canada is rife with entrepreneurial talent.”

This national audition tour, specifically, is turning up some incredible business ideas, said associate producer Amy Bourne.

“I think going into season seven, people sort of know what to expect a little bit more,” she said. “So you see the pitchers come in with really high-calibre pitches.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

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