An Ottawa-based entrepreneur has taken to TikTok to detail her experience on the popular Canadian show Dragons' Den, pulling back the curtain on what really went on.
The show features small business owners pitching a panel of investors, with hopes of securing a deal. Sarah Abood is the CEO of Thawrih, an Ottawa-based inclusive activewear company that makes products like sports hijabs and turbans, as well as leggings, bike shorts and tops. Everything is made in Canada with recycled materials.
In her TikTok video, she explains what happened during her 2019 appearance on the show, which ended with Abood accepting a deal from Dragons Manjit Minhas and Michele Romanow.
While the verbal agreement they settled on wasn’t ideal, Abood accepted it with the hopes of renegotiating later. In the contract that was presented to Abood, it stated that the deals are renegotiable after the show. After she'd pitched the Dragons, a representative of Minhas reached out. Abood asked if they could renegotiate but they declined. Abood didn't hear from Romanow’s team in 2019.
She says she decided to take to TikTok to share her experience because she gets asked about it constantly, with many people believing the company has grown as a result of the investment depicted on TV.
I thought I’d make a video to share the reality of what happens and share my entrepreneurial story with TikTok. We weren’t too upset that the deal didn’t happen since we were grateful for the publicity it gave us.Sarah Abood, CEO of Thawrih
She adds that she was warned many times before going on the show that it’s reality TV and not an actual investment conversation.
“Usually when you talk to investors, you don’t pitch them in 30 minutes and make a deal on the spot,” she explains. “I wanted to set the expectations of my followers so they know that’s how it works.”
Abood did manage to connect with Romanow on Instagram in 2020, asking if she’d be interested in the product so the company could get feedback. She agreed and Abood sent her several hundred dollars worth of product. Romanow has yet to post about the company or provide feedback to Abood.
“Being a female entrepreneur, things are already more difficult,” she says. “The takeaway is that whether it’s a male or female business person, the outcome is usually the same. There is no women-in-business bond.”
Dragons' Den responds to Abood's claims
Since posting her experience on TikTok, Abood says the reaction has been both positive and negative. One comment accused her business of destroying the country, but there were many commenters who expressed gratitude for having a better understanding of how the show works.
“My video wasn’t a jab at Dragons' Den, I wasn’t trying to hurt the brand,” she says. “I was just really wanting to let people know the true experience of it and although deals don’t go through a lot of times, it is their money at the end of the day and they also don’t go through in real life investment talks.”
When reached for comment, Dragons' Den executive producer Tracie Tighe provided a statement via email:
"Pitchers are fully informed in advance that any deals made on Dragons' Den are unwritten, non-binding agreements. CBC and Dragons' Den are not responsible for any agreements or negotiations that take place after the show's taping."