Dragon waffles on Wannawafel
Last year may have been the Year of the Dragons for Wannawafel’s Renaat Marchand but 2011 is anything but.
Last year Marchand travelled with his son Arno to pitch their waffle cart business to the millionaires on the hit CBC show Dragons’ Den. They succeeded in securing $100,000 from Dragon Jim Treliving of Boston Pizza franchise fame. All Treliving wanted was 50 per cent of the business. That’s where the Dragons’ Den story ends.
After seven months and mountains of paperwork nothing was happening.
Marchand says he was frustrated with the delay and began to rethink the whole deal.
“He was going to do everything for me,” said Marchand.
So after a reality check, Marchand backed out of the potential deal. This turned out to be a good thing because it allowed Richard Larkin to enter the picture as a partner in the flesh.
“This Dragon is really doing it,” said Marchand of Larkin.
Larkin has a solid and successful background in franchising as well as being a business coach and entrepreneur.
“We watched the show and my wife said, ‘you really should talk to this guy.’” said Larkin.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The two men met at a social media event in Victoria and started talking. Larkin will take on the marketing, sales and financial aspect of the business while Marchand will deal with the operations and quality control end.
They are interviewing potential franchisees and getting so much further ahead than was possible with the previous arrangement with Treliving.
"I never even got a chance to talk to Jim,” said Marchand.
Regardless of the failure to make things happen quickly with Treliving, the show sent so many potential franchisees into the fray that they are still going through the more than 1,500 emails. They hope to roll out 10-15 waffle carts this year and open a few storefronts in prime locations in larger cities across the country. They have even received inquiries from overseas, from places like Indonesia, Dubai and Singapore. Going on the show was not a bad thing in any way, says Marchand.
“Everything is possible, I notice now,” said Marchand. “When I went to Belgium I knew it was going to work, I learned so much. I’ve always been curious, like a windmill turning with the wind.”
His daughter Dana, his spouse Krista Spinoy, as well as his son Arno are all involved in the business in various ways. And with Richard now in the picture Marchand says, “I’m accepting Richard in my life. I feel really comfortable.”
They plan on making Wannawafel the McDonalds of the waffle business.
Larkin said he was attracted to the business because he “liked the people behind the business.”
“Let’s build a company based on performance,” says Larkin. “We’ll go 50/50 only when it’s really successful.”
The potential franchisees are in a fortunate position in that their investment will be between $50,000 to $55,000. Inquiries have come from young couples wanting to start their own businesses to people with millions to invest.
“I look at this as a real opportunity to do something significant,” said Larkin. “We’re going to see a growth here, I’ve never had this kind of jump start. It’ll get interesting.”
“I’m the type of guy who always goes for challenges,” said Marchand. “I want to make my life as interesting as possible. We’re taking all our life experiences and taking them to this business - we’re flexing our business muscles and enjoying it.”