Daniel and the Dragons’ Den

November 29, 2012

Impakt Protective Co-founder, Chairman and CEO Danny Crossman Lands Deal with one of Canada’s most famous VCs on popular TV show

Impakt Protective Co-founder, Chairman and CEO Danny Crossman (centre) with OCE Business Development Manager, Hindal Mirza (left) and Director of Applied Research and Innovation at Algonquin College, Mark Hoddenbagh. Crossman pitched the company’s impact alert sensors on Dragons’ Den, which aired Wednesday, November 28.

He entered the den and faced some of Canada’s fiercest venture capitalists head on. And, much like his biblical counterpart, this Daniel — Danny Crossman, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Impakt Protective — showed no fear, stood his ground and emerged triumphant (and with $350,000).

Alongside “enthusiastic hockey coach” and President/ VP Operations, Co-founder of the Ottawa-based Impakt Protective, Scott Clark, Crossman pitched the company’s impact alert sensors on Dragons’ Den, which aired Wednesday, November 28. 

Impakt’s technology Shockbox, is an easy-to-use sensor device that integrates into sports helmets to alert coaches and parents when a player’s head has been hit. A patented software algorithm then processes data sent to a smartphone app, providing information on direction and force of impact. All of this to help reduce damage from concussions and premature return to play, which is a key issue in hockey today, particularly in pro hockey — which is why some pro teams area already using Shockbox.

Crossman and Clark went into the Den with a strategy, targeting franchise baron Jim Treliving for his interest in hockey, internet entrepreneur Bruce Croxon for his IT savvy, and marketing maven Arlene Dickinson for her marketing advice. After a flurry of offers, it was Treliving, who is also the director of the Hockey Canada Foundation, who made the offer Impakt accepted: $350,000 for 10%. This was exactly the deal Crossman was seeking and he held out for it, even after there was some uproar from the Dragons over a high valuation and low equity stake.

While he admits he played up his refusal to budge on valuation a little for the cameras, Crossman also acknowledges that it was a move they had to make. “You have to be willing to walk away if you don’t get exactly what you wanted,” says Crossman. “It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but at the end of the day, I don't think any investor will do more lifting in your business that the founders will. It’s key to not sell yourself to the first bidder; dilution is a constant issue for start-ups.”

The deal, offered in April when the show was filmed, is still being worked through for due diligence. However, the company has already seen significant impact from being on the show. Last night as the show aired, Impakt’s website received 3,000 hits, a slew of emails and an influx of pre-Christmas orders for hockey season. Once the deal is signed, the company is hopeful the partnership with Treliving will help them address sensor regulatory issues and get sensors (and hopefully specifically their product) mandated in sports.

Though Dragons’ Den is a reality show, which comes along with all the added work for the cameras and a lot that ends up on the cutting room floor, Crossman says it’s still a lot like a regular pitch to VCs. 

His biggest piece of advice to any start-ups who hope to have their own moment in the Den? “Know your pitch and business plan plus financials inside out and backwards. But you should know those anyway!”

Watch Impakt Protective’s pitch on Dragons’ Den (last segment, starting around 35:30). Impakt Protective, supported by OCE through the First Job program, as well as by the  Centre for Commercialization of Research (CCR), was also recently profiled in an OCE success story in the 2011/12 OCE annual report.