Kelowna men pitch business idea to Dragons’ Den producers

Corey Jmaeff and Shawn Wudrich pitched their product, Bone Beer, to producers of CBC-TV's Dragons' Den Wednesday.

Corey Jmaeff and Shawn Wudrich are passionate about the outdoors, hunting and beer.

It’s a combination a lot of people take an interest in, although few would  put their day jobs on the back-burner for them.

The Kelowna duo, however, are learning that following one’s passion may just be the key to success.

Around 11 months ago they started producing a lager called Bone Beer, which is marketed to people who share their love for the simpler things in life.

“Some of our best memories are going outdoors… fishing and hiking,” said Wudrich. “And then the best part of the day is sitting around the campfire.”

If it sounds a bit redneck-y, that’s OK.  Wudrich said there’s no better time to be a redneck than now, thanks to TV programs like Duck Dynasty.

Hunting licences in B.C. have risen for the first time since the ’80s, and those kinds of stats go hand-in-hand with Bone Beer sales.

Since starting production at the old Hiram Walker site last year, 260,000 cans of Bone Beer have been sold. Their cans have been placed in every private beer store in the Okanagan, said Jmaeff, and in five years, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be in every beer store across Canada.

“And it’s not just about the beer,” said Wudrich. “It’s also about conservation.”

Five per cent of their net profit is dedicated to the BC WIldlife Federation.

Listening to the two rattle off stats about dollars, hunting licenses and wildlife funds is both dizzying and compelling, and it seemed to catch the attention of  producers with CBC-TV’s Dragons’ Den, who were in Kelowna Wednesday for a one-day stop..

They asked for $150,000 so they could ramp up production, and get into every store, long before the five year deadline.

“They asked the right questions and we had the right answers,” said Jmaeff.

Associate producer Priscilla Sreedharan and Richard Maerov were the Dragons’ Den Associate producers in Kelowna for  auditions.

They gave participants five minutes to pitch their idea for  financial backing of their business ventures and an invite to the Dragons’ Den  where they’d face  the show’s five venture capitalist Dragons.

“We want to see energy and passion,” said Sreedharan.

Earlier she noted that pitchers have become more savvy as the show has progressed.

“Kelowna is one of our busiest stops,” Maerov. He was unclear how many local entrepreneurs have made the cut to the final stages, but said there were a fair number.

In the morning, there were several dozen hopefuls lined up. They won’t learn who made the cut for a while yet, but those who do will have to be prepared to make the trip to the Toronto studio between March 24 and April 17.

Kelowna Capital News