By: Brad Hampton Wallis, Co- Founder
On Thursday March 7th at 8pm on CBC, Daniel and I will be on the Dragons' Den Next Level Special.
Prior to filming the show and meeting the Dragons we had our favourite Dragons, as everyone does. We are happy to tell you they are still our favourites. While we can’t share anything about the episode, before it airs, we can share what was going for DTB Inc. at the time.
Getting the Phone Call.
Dan and I were sitting at our desks, quietly working, when he received a call. He answered in his usual way. I stopped working after he had repeated a very soft “uh huh” about a dozen times. I spun around in my chair and tried to get his attention but all I could do was stare at the back of his head. I wanted him to turn around and give some non-verbal signs of what was going on. He was totally engaged in the conversation.
“Yes of course,” followed by silence.
“We’ll make ourselves available,” followed with more silence.
“Yes, that is my email address, I’ll watch for it.”
The call ended. He took a big breathe, waited for a moment, and turned in his chair to face me.
“That was one of the producers from Dragons' Den. They’d like to include us in the current season of the show.”
We were thrilled! We gathered the DTB Inc. team and went to work getting ready. Daniel and I have always been surrounded with wonderful people. The team was definitely up for this challenge.
Get New Business Partner. Have Fun Doing It.
As Joan Rivers used to say, “I was smart enough to go through any door that opened”. Daniel and I love an adventure. Opening this door was certainly going to lead to an incredible adventure.
Aside from wanting to secure a new business partner, we also decided to consider being on the Dragons' Den as an opportunity to have fun and share our creations with the viewers.
During rehearsals there was a lot of laughter. Knowing someone well means knowing how to make them laugh very easily. Daniel and I have known each other and loved each other for almost two decades. This long relationship has helped us develop a shorthand; a banter between us. We often know where each other’s thoughts are heading and what the other will say before it’s said. My relationship, with Daniel, has taught me that the heart loves long before the brain is comfortable in the admission. I was continually reminded of this during the process. Rehearsals required patience and care because, while we were excited for the taping of the show, there were many things, behind the scenes, which could impact our performance.
Behind the Scenes at that Time.
Throughout the preparations, rehearsals, and the filming I was unwell. Very seriously unwell. The production photos show this clearly. For almost two years, prior, I had been wrestling with an unknown ailment. No doctor was able to make a definitive diagnosis and my health was deteriorating daily. During the weeks leading up to the shoot I lost 50 pounds. My days consisted of sleeping, going to the bathroom, and waiting. Waiting to meet with specialists who could not find a solution to the problem. Waiting to see if my health improved. Waiting to see if I could muster the strength to go into the office. Waiting to feel better. During this time Daniel came to my apartment, three times a day, to check on me. When he couldn’t, he arranged for friends to do so. He brought food, did all my dishes, laundry, walked my dog, and stayed by my side. All this while still preparing for the shoot, running our company, and managing his own life. It was a very stressful time for everyone on the DTB Inc. team.
I managed to make it through the shooting day. In extreme pain I stood with Daniel and gave our best presentation to the Dragons.
Two weeks after filming I was admitted to Mt Sinai hospital where I remained for four weeks. Daniel remained steadfast. During the first few days, when the medical team was checking my vitals every two hours, he sat with me and held my hand. As time passed he was present for every meeting with every doctor. I spent time in a morphine induced sleep and Daniel waited by my side. He spent entire days at the hospital, with me, as we waited to see if the antibiotics were going to prevent the c. difficile infection getting into my blood stream. Each day he’d leave and return to the office working through the night. He did this everyday until I was released.
The Place that Saves.
Suffice it to say a diagnosis was reached and, with the correct treatment I started to get better. I remain under the care of Mt Sinai to this day, and will for some time, as an outpatient. Recently, Daniel called to check in on me just as I had completed a scheduled check-up. I shared the new medical update and, spontaneously, I told him that I get shaky every time I return to Mt Sinai. He said that was understandable, it was the place where I had almost died. After a moment of silence, and knowing that I love a paradigm shift, he said, “what if, you thought of Mt Sinai as the place that saved you. I do. And I’m so grateful that they did.” I was walking at the time but came to a stop, breathed in, and then, standing on the sidewalk, I began to cry. Hard.
As I cried I thought of the extensive medical team which included a truly amazing chief physician, varied doctors of different expertise, a compassionate dietician, the astonishing nurses and support staff on the 11th floor. I thought of all my friends and family who rallied around. And Daniel, who spent every waking moment by my side. Their mettle, acumen, and the strength of character of these people, in that place, at that time is what saved my life.
What now rests deep in my soul is gratitude. Daniel was right, there was no need to be upset at having to return there for care.
The Day the Production Photos Arrived.
The definition of bittersweet is “arousing pleasure tinged with sadness or pain”.
It was bittersweet the day the Dragons' Den production photos arrived. Sweet because the DTB Inc. team genuinely had a great time leading up to and including the shoot resulting in some wonderful memories with our involvement in the show. Bitter because the production photos reminded us all of what was going on behind the scene at that time in our lives. A massively rare opportunity to succeed mixed with a terrifying moment of potential personal loss.
Ultimately, we don’t know how the episode will be edited together but, what we know for sure, is our part of the Dragons' Den Next Level Special will be great television, because the entire process of preparing, participating, and experiencing such a significant moment is a true testament of an unwavering friendship.