Lesson from the Den: Failure doesn’t mean you should give up

Failure: it happens quite often in the Den. Your company’s valuation could be off, you could have insulted a Dragon, or the product may need more development. Whatever the reason, coming out of the Den empty-handed does not feel good, but that’s not always a bad thing.

In Season 10, Adam Paulin’s failed pitch in the Den turned out to be the catalyst for his business. He pitched a wearable weight-loss technology to the Dragons for a $50,000 loan that could be turned into equity in the future. To show the Dragons exactly how the technology worked, Adam invited Joe Mimran to dip his feet into ice water to mimic the effects of Thin Ice’s shoe insole.

Watch the pitch!

[thinice]

While the demonstration managed to surprise the fashion mogul, lack of research and development into the product left him (and the other Dragons) with cold feet — literally.

Another problem: The company had yet to launch its weight-loss product, so the only collateral Adam could offer the Dragons for a loan was his condominium. “I don’t want to take you out of your house,” said Michael Wekerle. “Get equity. Don’t get debt.”

The season 10 dragons of Dragons' Den sit in their chairs while Manjit tells a pitcher to change his business.

Although the Dragons didn’t like his product, they liked Adam — Manjit Minhas even urged him to shift his talent to other endeavours.

After the Den

It takes a handful of months before what’s taped in the Den goes to air. Between keeping the outcome of his visit in the Den a secret and figuring out what to do next, those months were “the most stressful” of Adam’s life.

During this time, Adam said he thought about the Dragons’ advice and was even tempted to abandon being an entrepreneur altogether, but it didn’t seem right to him. “I really hate quitting,” Adam said. “I’ve only done it a few times in my life.”

Sticking to his guts, Adam set out to prove the Dragons wrong by rushing to create a crowdfunding campaign for Thin Ice. “I learned everything I could about crowdfunding in as short a time as possible,” Adam said. “I spent like a fiend on marketing prep and a lavish launch party. I even had employees working out of my condo on weekends.”

Dragons 2, Adam 0

“Unfortunately the Thin Ice campaign failed miserably,” Adam said. “I had failed twice in a very public way now.”

After feeling more defeated than ever, Adam turned to a trusted mentor of his.

“I was looking for pity, but, to my surprise, he gave me the complete opposite. What I got was a much needed kick to the balls. He’d been through worse than I had.” said Adam. “Yes, things were bad, but the only way I could truly fail is if I gave up. I knew I had something with Thin Ice.”

A man in a vest hold his arms up. He looks strong and confident.

(Pictured above: CEO of TIGMOTION Ltd., the Korean distributor of Thin Ice, wearing the first prototype weight-loss vest.)

Adam went all-in for a new-and-improved crowdfunding campaign. Wiser from previous campaign mistakes, the restructured Thin Ice team (Adam and one other) learned to hit the critical mass at the beginning of the campaign and rode that wave of momentum throughout. Plus, the duo motivated campaign backers to share the crowdfunding for Thin Ice through referral contests and stretched goals.

And it worked. In 45 days, Thin Ice managed to raise almost $800,000 CAD.

What’s next?

Thin Ice has began manufacturing an upgraded version of their weight-loss vest — a sleeker style that can be worn under everyday clothing. Aside from the Thin Ice 2.0, Adam and his team are taking their idea global.

He says Thin Ice has garnered massive distribution volume requests, which they’re now trying to convert to licensing deals in every continent of the world (aside from Antarctica).

“We're also speaking actively with armies and police forces about orders of a modified version of the vest to keep their personnel cool in extreme conditions,” Adam said.

Looking back, Adam said his experience in the Den taught him a lot about perspective.

“I’m very happy I got the chance to pitch to the Dragons,” Adam said. “The sense of urgency and burning desire to vindicate myself after the pitch caused me insane amounts of stress, but they did accelerate my business and personal growth by many magnitudes.”

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Video: Thin Ice pitches wearable weight-loss technology.

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