If you’re reading this from Canada, chances are you’ve seen Janeson (JP) and her ‘bright light’ innovative product, the Magic Banana®, on the hit CBC TV series Dragons’ Den. They ‘starred’ on the very first episode and also in two other episodes during the 2006 inaugural season. Here are a few thoughts from Janeson, on her experience –
“It was an interesting experience, to say the least, presenting my product to the freshly-minted ‘Dragons’ on the platform of this brand new ‘Reality’ TV show. In 2006, precious little info was available in Search Engines about the show or the personalities, as the show was new to Canada and none of these people were yet known as Dragons (or Sharks!).
The names of the Dragons were revealed a week or so before the taping and, having a product like mine, it didn’t take much to fully grok the situation – with four men on the panel of five and only one woman, the probability that they’d comprehend let alone buy into my pitch was slim to none, no matter how important or great an idea it was. I’d have to go for the TV exposure.
Janeson Rayne presents the Magic Banana® on Dragons’ Den on CBC
When I first heard that Producers for this new CBC show were travelling across Canada looking for inventors, and that auditions were being held where I live in June of 2006, I was looking for a way to throw an anchor out to the future to help draw me forward. A serious flood I’d been involved with six months earlier had left me with frost-bitten and severely traumatized feet. Also, I knew that the way we’d been manufacturing the product was not sustainable – it was labour-intensive and we could never create and package enough product to get ahead of and be ready for demand.
The first six years had been busy and, even if not yet monetarily, the investment was paying off in many ways – about five thousand people at that point, both women and men, had experienced and benefitted from ‘the fruits’ of the Magic Banana® and word was starting to spread like wild-fire. I needed help to invest in and produce tooling and innovative packaging so we could manufacture in a sustainable way and start distributing the product, making it available to people everywhere.
The decision to go to the audition was made when, after having heard about the opportunity in the morning, a vision came to me while I was meditating in the tub that afternoon and the complete pitch was delivered in its entirety. It was a pitch to get on the show – not a pitch to get the dough – another pitch would be needed for that, I thought, but I felt certain that it, too, would arrive with ease if it was meant to be.
Rewind to the day of the taping: Just before a wee ‘dusting’ of ‘make-up’ backstage, it’s revealed that they want me to pitch the same way I had at the audition. The other pitch – the one for the money – is rusty but about as ready as it can be at this point* – and I think: ok, here we go – ‘game on!’
A Production Assistant ushers me over to an area and points towards where I am to walk, along a darkened catwalk and down some stairs into ‘the Den’. From the moment I stepped onto that walkway I felt like I was in one of those Haunted Houses at the fair – the kind where random things or people jump up and scare the dickens out of you. My senses were already heightened from an experience of ‘Ultra Reality’ – a family tragedy* – in the Canadian Arctic that I’d just returned from two days earlier and, having been given virtually no ‘heads-up’ at all, here in this darkened daylight environment, I really had no idea what to expect.
Looking back, I think we were all equally stunned by how it all went down – and my projections were way off – however, an interesting experience it definitely was, and an experience that continues in some ways to this day. The show appears to be enjoying never-ending re-run status – I’m amazed at how often people tell me ‘I just saw you on Dragons’ Den!’ – and I still get communication, mostly from women who have seen the show.
Of the communication I receive, two thoughts prevail: ‘Great idea – they missed out on this one, big time!’ and ‘I was stunned to see a bunch of grown men revert back to being 12 year old boys right before my eyes on national television!’
Watch the Magic Banana® on Dragons’ Den
Fast forward to 2008. I ended up finding other ‘Dragons’ who became my design and manufacturing partners, and we spent nearly 4 years in R&D before finally bringing our beautifully re-engineered and freshly branded product to market in March of 2012.
It’s been an incredible journey so far, and Dragons’ Den has been and continues to be an interesting part of it.”
Did you enjoy the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*One week after receiving the call from DD Producers saying I’d been chosen to come to Toronto to pitch my idea to the Dragons during the taping of the show in early August, I was preparing my financial projections* when I got another call, this one from my uncle Bryan: his 26 year old son Philip, my cousin, had been killed in a rappelling incident on Mount Thor. CBC News Story