LavaGrip

Sponsored Content with: BDC

​When winter comes roaring in, Canadians from coast to coast load up with road salt so they have a better chance of getting their car out of their icy driveway and avoiding slips on slick sidewalks.

​However, salt, salt blends, and other products that melt ice often come with their own problems. They’re effective only up to certain temperatures and have to be applied over and over again. Even worse, many are highly toxic, killing plants and grass and corroding pavement, clothing, footwear, and even cars themselves.

​CanLava Mining Corp developed a substance called LavaGrip that solves all those issues. The company owns and operates the Nazko Cone lava mine in B.C. There, a deep carpet of black pumice can be found, and it’s this jagged volcanic glass that makes LavaGrip so effective.

​Unlike sand, which is naturally round and will roll as forward pressure is applied, LavaGrip offers superior grip on wet or icy surfaces. It’s also completely natural, making it a “green”, eco-friendly product.

​Formerly known as Anti-Slip and in use for over a decade, LavaGrip has been recognized by Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and tested in conjunction with the BC Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

​Having developed a strong foundation, CanLava’s founders were ready to take their company to the next level and snagged a coveted spot on Dragons’ Den. The outcome may have surprised some viewers, with ​Ricardo and Dave being offered two deals but deciding to walk away without either of them.

​Robert Duffy, Vice President, Growth & Transition Capital, BDC, says the team’s appearance in the Den led to other unexpected turns.

​“Off the top, I thought this was a unique business that clearly has a lot of growth potential,” Duffy says. “I was surprised to see some of the Dragons go out as quickly as they did. I thought Ricardo and David did a great job showing how effective the product is on ice, but what really won me over was when the entrepreneurs proved how organic the product is by mixing it into a glass of water and drinking it! That really solidified the fact that it is not harmful to the environment like our current alternative, salt. There is a huge green trend going on these days and despite the learning curve required to educate customers, I think it was a mistake for a few of the Dragons to bow out without another thought.

​“In the mindset of an investor,” Duffy adds, “I would have wanted to know what other plans the team had for the volcanic product. David and Ricardo seemed pretty quiet regarding their plans to diversify into the market. Perhaps having a broad plan could have helped win over some confidence with the Dragons.”

​Diversification is an effective way for a company like CanLava to expand; so are business growth loans like those offered at BDC. However, there are all sorts of other considerations that entrepreneurs need to consider when it comes to mapping out their future, as Ricardo and Dave showed in the Den.

​“Being able to calculate the cost of capital being offered on the spot is critical for an entrepreneur,” Duffy says. “In this case, I believe the entrepreneurs made the right, but rare call, to walk away all together from the offers presented. However, I’m left wondering why they didn’t bother to counter either offer at all. Not every business that enters the Den has millions already invested. Not to mention, they’re already on store shelves. With a bit more time, I think they’ll be able to secure a deal with an investor that makes more sense for both parties.” Ultimately, Duffy says, the partners handled their decision with grace.

​“I would encourage any entrepreneur to maintain that level of professionalism throughout their pitch,” he says. “You never know if you’ll have the chance to pitch again at a better stage of development. At this current stage, I think going away, executing on growth, and then coming back to see the Dragons will allow them to raise capital on better terms.”

This is paid content provided by or produced on behalf of BDC.

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