Our CEO and inventor of halal nail polish, Dr. Umar Dar, shares his personal experience of being the first halal nail polish and cosmetics company to be featured on CBC's Dragon's Den.
This Valentine’s Day marks the one year anniversary of Tuesday in Love’s appearance on Canada’s Dragon’s Den (the Canadian equivalent to Shark Tank) and I thought I’d share what the experience was like as well as how it affected my personal attitude towards business.
I remember watching the very first season of Dragon’s Den back when Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec were on the panel. Therefore, we were very excited when we heard that one of the original dragons, Arlene Dickinson, would be back on the show along with Jim Treliving (also an original dragon).
The biggest fear about being on the show isn’t whether or not the producers will like your initial pitch or idea. In fact it’s not even whether or not you may forget what you’re supposed to say in your pitch. Rather, it’s whether the dragons find a loophole or problem with your idea or business model and go after it, leading to a public televised crash and burn. Let’s be honest. As viewers (myself included) one of our guilty pleasures of watching the show is simply to see who gets ridiculed or humiliated on the show in front of millions of people nation-wide. And it may not be that the business idea was bad, or even that the product they are pitching is flawed. It can simply be that they forget how to bring real value to the table and are looking for an honest business relationship with some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs and business people.
We all want to think that we have great ideas and can make great leaps and bounds in the business world with our hard work and effort. But being on Dragon’s Den is more than pitching an idea. It’s about understanding the relationship between businesses and investors. It’s about understanding that the investors on the show have already been in your shoes and have already faced the early struggles of building their empires. Now they want to grow their portfolios and help other entrepreneurs reach their goals with their help and experience. However, business is a two way street and an equal give and take. Dragon’s Den isn’t a charity show, and the dragons aren’t there to hand you a cheque and hope that you’ll somehow turn it into a million dollar payout. If we take a moment and put ourselves in their shoes (yes, their very expensive shiny shoes), ask yourself how you would feel handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars simply based on someone else’s desire to “take their business to the next level”. That’s where numbers come into play, and why you keep hearing people say “KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!”
To an investor, numbers are pretty much the only real set of facts that can help them determine whether or not the investment is worth it or not. Sort of like the way a professional athlete gets drafted based on his performance history. The better the numbers, the more likely he’s a good investment to bring aboard. And given the right tools and training, he can lead the team to a championship.
For me, having my wife Farah with me on the show was like having my MVP with me. She knows our numbers inside out. I like to think of myself as the other half of the team that brings the scientific expertise to the table. But that’s just half the game. The other aspect that’s often overlooked on the show is the presentation of the business. Dragon’s Den is a television show, and when people watch television, or any other source of media they don’t just want to be informed, they also want to be emotionally touched. And I think for that reason our story resonated not only with the dragons but with the millions of Canadians across the country who tuned in to watch. And this brings me to the hardest part of being on the show – sharing my personal story.
The general rule in business is to never show your vulnerability. However, sometimes that vulnerability and personal struggle becomes the foundation of your brand. In the case of Tuesday in Love, that very love story embedded itself not only in the name, but in what our company stands for. I like to think that out of a simple act of love we built a brand that allows people to share kindness, sympathy, appreciation, and love with others. And through our charities it’s also a way for us to share love around the world with those in need. Tuesday in Love is not just a bottle of nail polish, it’s also a way of saying “I love you.”
Standing in front of the dragons was indeed a very surreal experience. But it did solidify one very important thing for me. By having the opportunity to explain to them what halal nail polish and cosmetics were, as well as why providing these products for Canadians was important, it made me realize that the Canadian dream was indeed alive and well. I truly believe that we live in a country where opportunity is all around us if we look hard enough. And although our country isn’t perfect, we live in communities that celebrate our diversity and welcome dialogue from all walks of life. Canadian entrepreneurs are living in a time where we have an incredible opportunity to make our mark in the world, and it’s important for us to show support for one another along the way. Canada is a country that flourishes with diversity, multiculturalism, peace, and tolerance. Something so beautiful can only grow because its roots are embedded in love.
You can watch our episode of Dragon's Den (Valentine's Day Special) on Canadian Netflix: Season 13 Episode 17.