We're thrilled to announce two new Dragons for the newest season of Dragons’ Den: Lane Merrifield and Vincenzo Guzzo.
Having conquered land, sea, sky and the world of virtual, Merrifield is excited that his next new reality is to take on the Den and his fellow Dragons.
If you have kids, Merrifield may already be a household name without even knowing it. He’s a creative genius and virtual game changer for youth, tweens and teens. Soon after creating Club Penguin, the world’s largest children’s social network, Disney came knocking with both a purchase offer and a job. At 28 years of age and just 18 months after launch, Merrifield sold his first company for a cool $350 million and accepted his next challenge as one of the youngest executive vice presidents at the Walt Disney Company, where he grew Club Penguin to the billion-dollar brand it is today.
Eager to return to entrepreneurial life, he moved home to Kelowna, B.C., in 2012. He launched FreshGrade, a learning assessment tool that connects teachers, parents and students to help both personalize and improve learning. It is currently being used in 80 per cent of districts across Canada. One year later, he founded Wheelhouse, an organization that invests in and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs through mentorship, access to capital and connections to global business networks. One of their first projects was the creation of a $35 million, 100 thousand square foot state-of-the-art innovation centre in his hometown.
Lending his hand to up-starters, Merrifield also keeps his influence in the corporate world by sitting on the board of Spin Master, the University of British Columbia’s board of governors and was appointed to the B.C. premier’s technology council.
For fun, he steps fully out of the virtual world by taking in all that the real world has to offer. Merrifield is an avid motorcyclist, snowboarder, hiker, diver, wake surfer and pilot. In fact, while most business meetings happen over coffee, his happen over Okanagan Lake in his private twin-engine plane — flown by him.
Over the years, his teams have won dozens of awards including a prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) award for Club Penguin. Merrifield has received an Honorary Fellows Award, a Business Leader of the Year award from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and he was also listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter's Top 35 Executives under 35.