An Edwards Graduate Enters the Dragons Den
Release Date : February 03, 2011
The three Saskatchewan graduates also known as 3Twenty Solutions and the original winners of the first ever W. Brett Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence I3 Idea challenge, have shared their idea with a national audience, appearing on CBC's Dragon's Den, which aired on February 2, 2010.
Bryan McCrea, an Edwards School of Business B. Comm., still recalls how the company began, when he volunteered for the Wilson Centre and met Evan Willoughby to form 3twenty Solutions, a company that designs and builds mine site accommodations, specialized storage solutions, exploration core shacks and site offices out of old shipping containers, retro-fitting them into living quarters or workspaces.
According to McCrea, the experience was a lot of fun. Although most Dragon's Den pitchers would attribute the anxiety of the pitch as the greatest hardship, the accounting graduate describes the most difficult challenge for them was getting the container into the studio. With the standard 40-foot container too large to fit in the studio, they needed to reconstruct a customized 10-foot container. As a new company with a limited budget, they were very grateful to receive sponsorship from Cameco and their other suppliers.
After getting the container into the studio, McCrea elaborates on how they waited for two hours in the green room, until finally walking onto the scaffolding and being greeted by the five Dragons with 20 video cameras surrounding them. "You have to just seize the moment and pitch your heart out like you're pitching to an investor, whether it be in Saskatoon or Toronto, it doesn't really matter, it's just a place where you're selling yourself and your business, so that's what we did."
The three Saskatchewan graduates won the hearts of the Dragons within minutes of their pitch, with Robert Herjavec stating "This isn't my business, but if no one else gives you the money, I'll give it you because I just love you guys!" Not only did 3twenty Solutions get a deal, shaking hands with Brett Wilson on national television, but actually receiving more than they initially asked for, $115,000 for 25 percent of the company.
McCrea credits his education at the Edwards School of Business for his entrepreneurial success, "I'm really thankful I've got the solid accounting background and a very strong education that has helped me tremendously. When it comes to finance and accounting, I can crunch numbers with the best of them, which is crucial in some of the situations I've been in. The Dragons really praised the University of Saskatchewan and were impressed by us and our business acumen."
The company receives continued support from previous professors such as Lee Swanson, McCrea's former professor of entrepreneurship, who occasionally asks the 24 year old to speak in his class. The young entrepreneur says those opportunities are great, not only for the professor to encourage students to take the class, but also for the company to profile itself.
McCrea further emphasizes how both Edwards School of Business and Wilson Centre have been instrumental in his preparation for the broadcast. "Before we went to the Dragon's Den, we set up several ‘mock' Dragon experiences. We invited some of the people that have supported us, both in the business community and the Edwards School of Business. Sanj Singh and Lee Swanson both sat in and pretended to be Dragons. They helped prepare us for the actual Dragon's Den. There are a lot of reasons to be thankful for the Edwards School of Business and the Wilson Centre."
To hopeful entrepreneurs looking to start their own company, the 2009 Edwards graduate shares four things he has learned on his road to success. "First, find the right team. I couldn't imagine going at this business alone. Look beyond the borders of the classroom walls, elsewhere on campus, even SIAST. Look around the world and find people you can start a business with. It's much easier to do with someone else than on your own. Secondly, ask for help. We have not been afraid to ask people for advice, guidance, or help and we've established an advisory board. I've got several business people that I'll phone to ask them what they think I should do. The third thing is do it while you're young. It's much easier to take some risk and be an entrepreneur and not pay yourself much at all or even nothing for that matter, when you don't have too many kids or a mortgage that you can't afford. The last thing is do it in Saskatchewan. It is a tremendous place to be an entrepreneur and there's tons of opportunity in this province. Saskatchewan is a good place to be."
3twenty has recently sold North America's first ever shipping container mining camp to Claude Resources, a gold-mining company. A 22 person camp is currently being ice-roaded up to one of the Claude Resources sites, northeast of La Ronge, SK. Ambition and success is evident in Edwards students as the first ever container mining camp goes down in history as being established by a 2009 graduate from the Edwards School of Business.
Website : www.3twenty.ca