It was the second TLDSB Dragon’s Den on March 3, 2016. Sixteen judges and numerous grade 7/8’s from four TLDSB schools came together for a day of innovation, creative thinking, and collaboration. Students from Watt PS, Macaulay PS, Glen Orchard PS, and Muskoka Beechgrove PS presented projects after two months of work to a panel of ‘Dragons’. The panel of judges was comprised of local business owners and seasoned entrepreneurs.
Students were divided into groups of four with students from different schools. They used Face Time and Skype to collaborate on their projects and leveraged Google Docs as well. Groups met once for a face-to-face workshop half way through the project before the big day of presentations at the Muskoka Education Centre.
“The merits of this event are so great, because Muskoka’s biggest export is our bright kids,” says John Cooper, a Dragon who is perhaps best known for his contributions to Cooper Sports – Canada’s largest manufacturer of sporting goods in the 1970’s.
“Typically, students will leave for post-secondary education, get connected somewhere else, and see Muskoka as home – but believe there’s nothing here for them,” explains Cooper. “They come back for parents, grandparents, friends, and fishing, and think that it’s a great place to grow up, but not much else. So the idea of these youngsters today saying ‘Take a look at the technology and the needs in Muskoka! Maybe instead of flipping burgers, I’ll hire myself and start my own business with three or four of my friends.’ – it’s absolutely tremendous.”
When asked how he planned to contribute to the day’s events, Cooper stated that “Our number one responsibility is to be encouragers and to be helpful. I think we’ll see a combination of brilliance and naivety today. Our job is to reduce naivety by asking questions about where students would get financing, what a sensible profit margin is, and so on.”
Fred Hurd, a retired Executive from Canadian Tire, was also a ‘Dragon’ for the day. “I’m looking forward to seeing the presentations,” said Hurd. “I see tremendous potential in opportunities such as ‘Dragon’s Den’. If students can leave today with constructive criticism, they’ll gain a better picture of how things work in the real world and they’ll retain that. It’s the perfect age group, because their minds are like a sponge. I believe they’ll all learn a bit about the steps to build a business or market a product, whether they’re presenting or just listening.”
Many of the students left with personal contacts from the panel of judges, and invaluable marketing and business tips from some of our area’s creative geniuses.
Special Thanks to Judges:
Keith Montgomery, Investor’s Group
John Cooper, Cooper Sports
Daniel Bradbury, Web Design Specialist
Brenda Rhodes, Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce
Alex Tilley, Tilley Endurables
Lea Barker, Event Planner
Scott Turnbull, Professional Photographe
Barb White, Jr. Achievement Coordinator from Huntsville
Curt Dunlop, Operator of Griffin Pub
Fred Hurd, Retired Canadian Tire Executive
Don Mackay, Owner of Muskoka Highlands Golf
Miranda Britton, Jewellery Maker
Stuart Morley, Business Owner
Dave Hall, Retired Teacher
Rob McPhee, Business Development Specialist